By Payel Mukherjee
“Everyone is talking about how working mums are having trouble staying at home and finishing their duties. What about us stay-at-home mums? We are not working but we are working all the time to manage home chores, husband, kids etc, all together. It’s crazy.”
That was the conversation I had last week with my dear friend Shilpa, a stay at home mum with two kids. It was a similar sentiment shared by other stay-at-home mums I spoke too, ever since the lockdown started. Suddenly, the peace times and me-times, when the children and spouses were outside the house, had evaporated. The common feelings everyone spoke about were related to being overwhelmed, irritated, tired and overworked.
Given that the lockdown is not going away tomorrow, and there are responsibilities to be handled as a primary care giver, it’s important for stay-at-home mothers to find a workable routine. After all, it’s a darn tough job to take care of home, kids, spouses, pets etc.
So, here are a few simple suggestions to survive this period while keeping your sanity intact. Who knows, you might actually enjoy this period once it’s over.
Plan your day
Get a planner and organise your day beforehand, so that you know what to do when. It’s easy to lose track of time when kids and spouses are at home, and so planning ahead will help. This will help put some sort of structure in your life, and prevent you from feeling overworked at the end of the day.
Move away and take it easy
When everyone is at home, things are bound to get messy and exasperating. Move away when you feel the tension mounting even if it means locking yourself inside a room for a while. Fix your ‘on’ and ‘off’ times so you can be on your own while someone else looks after the children. Remember to be flexible and relax the house rules once in a while. Let it go and let it be and overlook little slip-ups by the kids.
Relax, exercise, and pamper yourself
If you are having trouble switching off from everything, try some relaxation techniques to help you settle down at the end of the day. Some breathing exercises or relaxation audio clips can help keep stress, anxiety and panic at bay. Make time to eat your meals at mealtimes and stretch your body. Fitness brands, and even local gyms and yoga clubs, are putting out great exercise videos that can be done from home. So, get active today.
If you are the main person in care of childcare and homework, try not to lose patience. Showing your resentment and anger will only worsen things. Remember things will get better with each passing day as you get used to this route. Your space is getting invaded and that is bound to rattle you. But with time and practice, you will learn to settle down and find your own space. Also remember to give each other space and dial back on expectations.
Have fun with kids
Now it’s a great time to enjoy more family time, if that’s what you have been missing. Give your kids some control as well. They are always more willing to take initiative when they know it was their idea. Let them lead and try not to get too involved.
Delegate work and do not micromanage
Engage your kids in the house work. Let them clear the clutter, make their beds, help you in folding and keeping the clothes away, laying the table and even helping out in the kitchen wherever they can. Work will become easier and it’ll be a great way to bond.
Sometimes a bit of ‘me-time’ is what you really need. So, soak in a hot bubble bath, pepper it with essential oils, light some candles and sip on your favourite beverage to unwind. Or just put on Netflix, Hotstar or Prime and watch a great series.
Connect with other moms
Start a dedicated hour (or even 20 minutes) on a video conferencing site, inviting one or two other mums to your own cozy party in front of their laptop or phone. This could be the best way to get your me time and have some fun as well.
Enjoy this time
Finally, know that this time shall pass and the world will go back to being normal. Hence, take a deep breath, load up on the patience and enjoy the time that you are getting with everyone around.
(Payel Mukherjee is the founder of Justwords, mother to two daughters, and a Darjeeling tea addict)