Finding Hope and Balance as a Parent in “The New Normal”

Article by: Heather Baird
Account Manager – Employee Benefits

This is for the other working mamas, dads, and caregivers out there.

Going into 2020 none of us could have foreseen the changes our lives have endured over the last year. The terms of the year have included “unprecedented times” and “our new normal”. There has been nothing “normal” about this year! As a working mom of three small children, this year has been a roller coaster of ups and downs, and if I’m going to be honest, there have been a lot of down days. I would say we’re surviving our new normal rather than conquering it most days. Early in the pandemic, I saw this quote: “In the rush to return back to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to” (Dave Hollis). Meditate on that for a minute.

As women (kudos to you men as well), many of us are inherently givers. We take care of our people, spouses, children, family, neighbors, friends. We do this to a fault, and sometimes to the detriment of our own health and well-being. By the end of many days, I find there is not enough energy left for me. Self-care? What’s that, and more importantly what does it look like for me? After my third child was born, I finally took time for myself and began seeing a therapist. I remember she looked at me and asked, “Do you think you’re depressed?” I remember pausing a minute and saying, “Probably, but I don’t have time to be depressed!”

Looking back, I laugh. It’s so true. How many of you are tired? Our culture has become so goal-oriented and driven we’ve lost sight of balance and rest. It’s become a badge of honor to be overworked and exhausted.  We work long hours at our day job and then jump right into our other roles at home. It’s a whirlwind of go, go, go, and turning around and doing it again the next day.

As a child of the ’80s, I remember the days when it was a big deal to rent a movie at Blockbuster on Saturday night realizing you would get an extra day free. That’s right; businesses were closed on Sundays. What a novel idea, a day of rest. What if we went back to that concept and allowed ourselves time each week to truly rest? To forget about the laundry and dishes and instead enjoy a good book, pick up a hobby, or spend quality time with our loved ones.

I’ve heard people say that an addict needs to hit rock bottom before they come to a place where they can start their journey towards healing. This year has brought me to my knees on more than one occasion, and I’m realizing that sometimes it’s not until we’re in our darkest moments that we finally start to see the light. The light was always there, we were just too busy and distracted to see it.

As hard as this year has been it’s been extremely enlightening. “They” say in every storm there is a blessing. I’ve finally come to a place of realization that I need healthy boundaries and structured balance in my life, and I’m finally taking the time to figure out what self-care looks like for me. It’s my heart’s hope each of you take the time this pandemic has given us to reflect on your lives too. Don’t go back to “normal.” You deserve better than normal!

Most importantly, know you are not alone. There is nothing normal about this. It’s chaotic and stressful, but we’re all in this together. It just looks and feels different for each of us. That mom down the street or on social media may look like she has it all together, but I guarantee she struggles too. If you’re struggling and don’t know where to start check-in with your HR contact, benefits administrator, or primary care physician to see what resources are available. As dark as your days may seem there is hope.

And for that mama in the drop off lane whose kid is having a meltdown or hasn’t showered in two days, this is for you, “I respect parents who have it all together, but parents who stumble in to drop their kids off at school, looking like they just got attacked by a flock of angry birds? Those are my people!” (author unknown)

Mental Health | United Way 211

Mental Health – 211 Maine