I have five kids between the ages of 8 and 15. I don't know about you, but being home with all of the kids 24/7 is certainly not what I had planned for this spring. This is uncharted territory.
Now more than ever, moms, we need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves. Do something for you that has nothing to do with work, kids or the craziness of the news and social media. Get up an hour before your kids do, grab a cup of coffee or tea, read a book, do some yoga, meditate, write in a journal, take a bath—whatever works best for you.
As a recovery coach, one thing I would encourage you to be mindful of is whether or not you're leaning on alcohol as an emotional crutch. Things feel stressful right now, and we all need more support—the thing is, you can choose what kind of support really works best for you.
In the past month there's been an absolutely huge uptick in booze jokes and memes directed towards moms.
Wash your hands, but fill up your cart with booze.
Drink a quarantini.
Our homeschool teacher has been suspended for drinking on the job.
I get it. Five years ago, my "self-care" routine during this kind of disruption would have included stockpiling wine and champagne to take the impending edge off. Now that I'm sober, I am able to see things differently and I wanted to extend that perspective.
I love a funny meme as much as the next person, but why do we find "mama needs a drink" memes funny? Imagine a world where we were making these kinds of jokes right now:
The cigarette aisle is going to be just as empty as the toilet paper and hand sanitizer aisles, amirite moms?
I'm home with my kids for the next 6 weeks—send Clorox and cigarettes!
I may be out of Lysol wipes, but I have enough cigarettes to get me through this quarantine!
Not quite as funny, right?
Alcohol is already one of the leading preventable causes of death, killing more Americans than all other kinds of drugs combined. During this pandemic, the mental and emotional stress of social isolation, financial distress and uncertainty may be causing Americans to drink even more than usual. Alcohol sales were up 55% at the end of March, and online alcohol sales were up a whopping 243% in the week ending March 21. Even people who typically only drink on evenings and weekends only may find it easier to drink more right now. Alcohol is also being used as self-medication, with people drinking a much higher than typical amount to dull fear and panic during this stressful time.
The irony is, alcohol is far from the best coping mechanism during this pandemic. Alcohol is not good for your immune system—drinking less improves your health and immunity. Alcohol is also a depressant and can make your anxiety about this situation (or any situation) worse in the long run—drinking less, not more, helps reduce anxiety.
Healthier coping mechanisms to turn to include exercise, sleep, eating right, connecting with friends and family, watching a funny movie, reading, reaching out for help when you need it… and being honest with yourself about how you feel, and how you want to feel.
For women, this is especially important. Drinking more alcohol doesn't even come close to being the solution or support mothers really need in terms of the mental load of motherhood and all that's on our plates, especially during this pandemic. It's already the case that mothers don't get enough support in the U.S.—we're expected to do it all, and then a big glass of wine will solve our problems—but we know this isn't true.
I'm certainly not a prohibitionist. My husband drinks occasionally, as do most of my friends. If you want a glass of wine, go for it! I'm not asking anyone to stop drinking. I'm questioning whether we're using a pandemic to glorify and justify drinking more than we typically would—or whether drinking will really make this situation better, no matter what all of those memes say.
Let's all take the pressure off of ourselves to be perfect parents and teachers right now. Honestly, if my kids are relying on my memory of American History to succeed in life, they are going to have problems. But they aren't, and there is so much opportunity here! Think about all of the life skills that our kids can learn. We can show them how to do their own laundry, make family meals, organize and sort through clutter, and help run a household. We can also show them that it's possible to get through a pandemic by finding healthy ways to deal with the stress.
At the end of this time, whether it's two or six months, if we've failed at the lesson plans and online tutorials, but have spent the time slowing down and getting to know our little people, we will be better for it. I know our kids will be, too.