Sara Haines, the mom of three kids under five—Caleb Joseph, one, Sandra Grace, three, and Alec Richard, four—and co-host of ABC's The View, had a very unique perspective on life before she even became a parent let alone being a parent during a pandemic.
"Before I had kids, I always said that being present in the moment was a goal in life," says Haines, 43, who is married to Max Shifrin, an attorney. "Now that I have kids, they're a presence and you hope you can be present. Then a pandemic hits and all you have is presence."
To be the best she can be during this intense time, which includes being the only View co-host working in the studio, which enables the crew and camera people to remain employed, Haines says she tries to find ways to 'handle myself kindly.'
"I'm better when I take care of myself first," she says. "It's harder to do that now because in staying safe, we took away the self-care so many people had. Still, I have to prioritize and ask myself 'what am I doing for me, Sara.' Not mom, not wife, not any of the other hats I wear, in order to be my best for everyone else."
Read on for more on how Haines is making this work:
What's your biggest self-care go to?
I try to raise my heart rate. I have an Apple watch and the 30-minute activity ring is a huge goal for me. As someone who has battled dips in morale and happiness, I've found that when I'm active—not because of a bathing suit I want to fit into but for the hormones that are released when I raise my heart rate—that's the foundation of my day-to-day happiness. It's easy to find ways to increase your heart rate. You can run in place and watch TV. You can do jumping jacks. I've gotten creative with this.
It's more than just getting 10,000 steps a day?
It's way beyond that. I realized that lightly walking around was nice and it does help, but the difference between when I spike my heart rate, like really get up there for a solid minimum of 20 minutes, I find that my whole mental perspective changes. And I find all sorts of ways to make this happen. For example, when I bring groceries inside, I'll take one bag in at a time. It's a little silly but I run up the stairs each time I grab a bag and I make multiple trips. Another thing I do is to park far away from the supermarket. One: I'm not good at parking which means I'm not great at getting solidly into a spot—so I park far and get some exercise plus I decrease the odds of hurting another car when I park near another!
With three little kids, it must be a little chaotic in your house.
I would say that even calling it controlled chaos is an oxymoron. As an orderly Virgo, the chaos that is kids is something I could never have prepared for. I literally have diagnosed OCD in regard to organization, but parenting has taught me way more about myself than maybe I've taught my kids. The phrase I use in my head is 'it's good enough.' At the end of the day, I look at a room and if it's nowhere close to how I want it to look I just stop, pause and say 'It's good enough for today.'
Has there been an example of that recently?
We were decorating our tree this week and Sandra was playing with a snowman ornament. It shattered and I heard the glass break. The little girl in me heard my mom sternly saying 'what are you doing?' Instead, I said 'It's OK.' I thought why not turn this into a feel-good moment and find a way to make her smile in a way that I didn't when I was growing up. So I told her we'd find another. We now have a date to find a new snowman she can put on the tree. It put new meaning to that moment and helped her understand that it's going to be okay.
The pandemic certainly puts these moments into perspective.
It puts all of this in perspective. I find I'm so irritable and short-tempered by this forced presence. Max and I are trying to be more aware of that. That's the luck of having two people in a family anyway, that moment where you can say 'I can see you're at your wit's end; I've got this.' When one of us is at our worst, usually the other one has enough in the tank to take us to the goal.
What's your biggest message to moms right now?
The best advice I've ever gotten and I have to tell myself this every day: 'Treat yourself like your best friend.' We so often show up with grace and compassion for everyone else and we're so much better at being someone's best friend than we are about caring for ourselves. Putting other's interests first is draining and doesn't make for long term sustenance and health. I think there's no perfection. Remember: 'It's good enough for today.' Be kind to yourself.