Recharge and Reset Expectations – A Working Parent Perspective
Written by: Rosa Moore, Working Mom & CFW Fitness Professional
The importance of recharging in this pandemic has become a challenge for all parents. In my position of being a single mother of a 3-year-old boy, I have had to think outside the box to find time for me. Prior to COVID-19, I used to recharge during my workout sessions before and after work, come home and read a book as my toddler listened. We had a schedule we followed Monday through Friday, weekends were saved for errands and outside activities with unlimited time. Now, everything has changed and I am on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with my toddler. No more daycare, no more playdates, no more planned sport activities, no more park interactions, no more Chuck E Cheese, no more family visits. In this blog, I will share how I’ve tried different approaches and some succeeded, and others not so much.
Before quarantine, my son’s usual wake up time was 6 a.m. Now, he may sleep until 9:30 a.m. or sometimes he wakes up whenever I do. He normally would nap daily around 2 p.m. The first week of quarantine, he napped maybe three times the entire week. On the days he would successfully nap, I would try to do-it-all, finish online courses and study, workout for 30 minutes, sit down to drink some tea and if I had some time left, watch a show. Many days, I didn't have “me time” because he would wake just as I was shutting down my laptop.
Early on, I realized my son’s attitude would change when the television would be on in the morning, so I decided to use TV time as a one time a day reward. Now, we keep all electronics shut off for half the day. Play time features different activities that will challenge his brain and provide some physical exercise. Play time includes working on puzzles, building his train track, and racing Hot Wheels cars. We also find time for arts and crafts – finger painting, coloring books and Play-Doh, Seems simple, right?
- Planning doesn’t always work.
My son would get very agitated at times and showed no interest in the activities.
We would get through some of the activities, but not all. He was more interested in just being around me. While I love the extra time with my son, this made it harder for me to finish my cleaning and organizing. To compromise, I would include him in my daily chores and activities.
When I was online reading and studying, I would have my Bluetooth connected so I can focus and clearly hear the lecture while my child ran laps back and forth. Eventually, he would rest on my shoulder, many times falling asleep on my lap.
We kept going outside minimal. On really nice days, we would venture out into the backyard where he can chase the dogs and run around as much as possible. Dancing became a great form of exercising indoors, as well as following me around the house. Playing hide and seek and performing soccer drills ended up being our workouts. Occasionally we go on bike rides in the neighborhood.
Staying up late.
Many occasions I would stay up later than I should because it was the only time I would get to myself. Becoming a night owl affected my sleep schedule and this new habit wasn’t working well for me. I decided to change my schedule. I joined online study groups for specific days, so my son would get use to me being away from him for some time, meaning I wouldn't be giving him the attention he normally would receive, so he started being more independent. He will go get his own snack when he gets hungry before meal time and he is communicating more verbally by being specific on how he is feeling. Having obligations helped me wake up earlier and get more things completed, and my son started to learn to play alone when he would see I was working on my laptop.
I like calming music and I decided to make it part of our daily life. I keep music playing in the background as we sleep and while we have quiet time. The soothing sounds have helped calm my son down and he has been more relaxed throughout the day. Thus far, this has been the one thing that always works for us. My son has been listening to classical music since inside my womb and it’s what I have used to bring my thoughts and mind to ease. The music helps keep me calm down and slow to react in a negative way. Taking those deep breaths before addressing the issue really helps! I use this method when my toddler misbehaves.
Since we are physically isolated, we have set up virtual playdates and meetings with loved ones so he can see them and talk with others. Being an only child, my son craves interaction with other kids his age. Explaining why he can’t go outside and play with his friends in the neighborhood is challenging. We have arranged to-go pick up food and go on car rides during the week to get outside.
Balancing work, childcare and self-care is always a struggle, but being a single parent during COVID-19 has increased the daily challenges. Maintaining your cool while being overwhelmed with everything you need to do is not easy. We have had our struggles and I’ve tried to focus on the positives as well as work on patience.
Maintaining my peace has been a challenge, but with daily reading and focusing on what I need to work on myself, has helped me remain calm. Some days are better than others, and we are focusing on one day at a time. Every day comes with its own challenges.
Let’s enjoy the view from our windows as the sun rises and sets on the day, as the birds sing and the storms roll in at night. Get a breath of fresh air as we go out to get our mail and feel grateful for being alive. Make a list of the things we have and to learn and appreciate every little thing we have!