What a hard season to parent in. I have found this past year particularly difficult. Motherhood can seem monotonous on a normal day, but throw a pandemic in there and the monotony can feel next level. Repetitive tasks day-in and day-out, coupled with the feeling of being cooped up at home.; we can’t break away or recharge in ways we were used to.
When we first locked down, I felt immense gratitude. I was thankful for the province-wide restrictions that would keep us safe and homebound. Not long after our first lockdown, we had our third (and final) baby. Having the kids at home for the first five months of Nash’s life, provided for a sibling bonding experience they wouldn’t have otherwise had. I was caught up in the throes of newborn life, still working 20+ hours per week (from home), all the while attempting to facilitate virtual learning and trying my best to provide stimulation and structure for our six and four year old. I found contentment in the challenge of my ability (although not always effective) to juggle it all.
The kids returned to school in September but we would soon lock down again. I felt like I was riding a wave. The light at the end of the pandemic tunnel was unpredictable. I felt like my world revolved around nothing but the caregiver role and domestic tasks and I was not okay with it. I was not okay with it because I could not tap into the traditional, albeit ‘extra’, forms of self-care that would allow me to duck-out for a break; to come back recharged and happy to dive back into the day-to-day routine. Guys, we have been doing so much of the same for so long. I felt bored, frustrated, angry and resentful. It impacted my interactions with everyone under our roof and still does if I don’t manage the monotony. I am incredibly grateful and I oftentimes refrain from verbalizing any struggle right now because it feels so petty, and so small compared to the challenges, pressure and stress that others are faced with. However, I have come to realize that everyone’s experience within this pandemic is unique, and there is nothing wrong with being vulnerable and admitting your struggle. It is worthy of acknowledgment. I want to normalize that is is OKAY to not love the monotony of motherhood in lockdown.
I think you either thrive and enjoy the monotony that motherhood can be in pandemic life, or you don’t fair so well (my hand is flying sky high). I have found that if I only live and breath monotony , it negatively affects my mindset. You too? Then read on for suggestions on how you can reduce your experience of monotony during lockdown.
1. First and foremost, ask yourself what tasks you REALLY need to be doing everyday. Yes, I am suggesting that you let go of any task that does NOT need to find its way onto your daily to-list. There is an element of letting go with this one, but there are things we can all let sit. Designate a particular task to a specific day of the week. You won’t find me wiping bathroom sinks or doing laundry daily. Friday’s I wipe the bathroom sinks, and when everyone is on their last pair of underwear I start the washing machine. Simply put, I divy tasks up.
2. Tap into an outlet that allows you to fuel a passion, learn something new or pursue a side hustle. Think about filling those small blocks of time you have with something that stimulates you. It gives you a break from the seemingly routine daily tasks, and you walk away feeling recharged.
3. This one is obvious but something we fail to do; ask for help, or even delegate. Whatever floats your fancy, offload a few things. Our children? They are so capable, and enjoy contributing to the household. That other partner? I’m regularly reminded that they can’t read our minds, so let them know what they can help with. Helping hands relieve some of the routine tasks, and get everyone contributing.
4. Finally, and this one is must. Schedule a timeout. Either have someone spell you off, or rise a little earlier or go to bed a little later to carve out time for YOU. There is so much value in filling YOUR cup. Read a book, paint your nails, call a friend, move your body. You know what you love, but make this a priority.
Pandemic-friendly options are where it’s at to break-up and offset the monotony. Right now we have to be creative with how we do that. I own my mindset and know that managing it is an inside job. I know the difference between merely living and breathing the monotony OR designing my day to manage it and it’s resulting impact on my mindset. This new normal requires our creativity, and our ability to conjure up different solutions. It means leaning into being a work-in-progress and that is okay!
Be realistic with what needs to be done. Explore an outlet that taps into a passion or interest. Be okay with asking for help, and make taking time for yourself a priority. When the seemingly mundane routine tasks are spiced up with even a smidge of excitement or a brief change of focus, your mindset will thank you – promise.