A few days ago, I had a bad day. The stress of the previous few months finally got to me, and I just broke down. I was upset for so many reasons, but one thing really got to me: the guilt.
I’ve been feeling a lot of guilt lately. Guilt that I’m not working hard enough at my job and not putting in enough hours. Guilt that I’m not spending enough time with my kids during the day and doing Pinteresty crafts or preschool lessons; instead, I’m working and ignoring them. Guilt that I’m living so far from my parents and unable to help them out. And guilt that I’m feeling this way. After all, when there are so many people who have it worse than me right now, I should be feeling grateful, not guilty!
I texted my husband and a few friends and told him that I wasn’t sure how I was going to keep this up. How was I going to continue working full-time, with a husband also working full-time in a demanding, client-facing job, PLUS taking care of two kids under the age of 4? And if I’m feeling this way, what is it like for parents who are not as privileged as we are?
I know this is a sentiment that many parents must be feeling right now. If you’re having a difficult time, please know you are not alone. It’s not easy. It’s okay for us to not feel okay every day. So many of us are having a hard time. And while each day will be different — some days will be easier than others — on the days you’re feeling down, here are three things to keep in mind.
Warning: this is not your average tip sheet. There will be no: Make a schedule on a white board. Change activities hour by hour. Wake up 15 minutes early and do a breathing exercise before starting your day. Plan interactive meals. While those lists may be great for some (kudos to my mom friends who are rocking these right now), these do not address an important issue — how we’re really feeling.
Additional note: I can’t take credit for these words of wisdom, they’re from my family and friends who I’m so glad I texted.
On the days you’re feeling guilty that you’re not spending enough quality time with your kids.
Advice from my husband: No, you may not be doing a new activity every hour and planning lessons for each day. But you’re spending more time right now with your family than you have over the past year. You’re eating meals with them, putting them down for naps, getting them ready in the morning. You’re not rushing out the door, missing breakfast or dinner because you’re heading to an early meeting or working late. The kids will remember that — that you were there.
On the days you’re feeling bad for feeling down because you know that you are lucky considering everything going on.
From my best friend, Melissa, another working mom: Don’t feel bad about feeling guilty. Allow yourself to feel what you feel. Your circumstances are yours — if you’re feeling like it’s hard, it’s because it is! Take a few minutes, feel what you feel, and then give yourself a reality check and give thanks. (In the words of Lisa Loeb in this children’s song, “Guess what? It’s okay. Go on and feel what you feel today.”)
On the days when it feels like you’re failing at everything:
From my friend, Cuoghi, a doctor: You’re doing the impossible right now. Remember you aren’t just working from home. But working from home with kids. During an international pandemic.
Cut yourself some slack!
Oh yeah, and one more thing to remind yourself (from me):
You are not alone. YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB. Just please stop hoarding toilet paper.