I am done living in crisis mode

I would obsess over news reports and death rates and the endless cycle of bad news. I decided—I can't live this way.

family playing board game in coronavirus quarantine

A couple of nights ago, my husband and I decided to have burgers for dinner. As my husband grilled and the girls played around him in the backyard, I was in the kitchen slicing veggies for a salad. The windows were open and the smells of the grill and sounds of my 4-year-old chattering floated around me. End-of-day sunlight streamed into the kitchen, creating yellow puddles of warmth our dog stretched out in.

It felt so peaceful and happy.

It felt normal.

I noticed my shoulders had relaxed.

My mind had stopped racing through an endless loop of questions and worries.

For a moment, we just were.

Life has felt so wildly different lately. Infused with a lot of fear and uncertainty. I wouldn't be able to sleep the night before I had to make a grocery run. I would fret over every potential germ that could get into our house. I would obsess over news reports and death rates and the endless cycle of bad news. I decided—I can't live this way. I had to switch out of crisis mode for my own mental sanity.

I realize my privilege at even being able to make that transition—we both have jobs we can do from home, I was already homeschooling my oldest daughter and I have consistent (albeit delayed) access to safe, healthy food and other basic necessities.

I don't mean to say I think the situation has gotten any less dire or that it is any less important to continue to comply with the recommendations of trusted health organizations to stop the spread of the coronavirus and protect those around us. I don't mean that I think this is any less of a crisis than it was last week.

For me, the change is entirely internal. Instead of fretting over every next step, constantly worrying and wondering how the situation will evolve and what I should be doing, I'm taking a step back. I'm living differently, but not unbearably. I'm missing how things were, but I'm also able to maintain a sense of normalcy for my kids that even I can buy into now and then.

Since then, those moments of "feeling normal" have popped up a bit more. Maybe it's when my preschooler and I are working on an art project or while my 1-year-old is doubled over in giggles as I tickle her belly. Maybe it's at the end of the day when my husband and I not-so-guiltily decide to watch "just one more episode" before we go to bed. Maybe it's dozens of tiny, insignificant moments that I suddenly realize I don't take quite so for granted anymore.

Of course, things aren't normal right now.

We're still socially distanced from all our friends and family, relying on technology to keep us connected (and keep us from going batty). We're still home, pretty much all day every day as my husband and I try to find a new rhythm of both being work-at-home parents who never really get a break. I still worry every time I have to leave the house to pick up groceries, or any time a package arrives on the doorstep about what germs we could be bringing into the house. I still worry about when my husband has to go back to work, even just for a day, next week.

My worries haven't vanished, but I do feel like I've finally stepped out of crisis mode.

Put simply, I think I've adapted to this new way of living for now. I automatically factor in at least a week's wait time for my grocery pick-ups. I keep a mask and gloves in my purse and an extra set in my car. I wash my hands often and disinfect surfaces daily without thinking twice. I exercise daily, take it easy on my skin and hair and am mindful of taking care of my teeth because I don't know when my next doctor appointments will be.

I look for virtual activities to fill my calendar and plan online playdates to occupy my very social little girls. So much of life has continued on, mostly as usual, despite the seismic changes happening outside our door.

I'm fortunate to be able to do this. I know it—and I'm feeling extra grateful for that blessing these days.

Of course, it's not a perfect science. That same night we made the hamburgers, as my husband tucked the girls into bed and I watched a show, a commercial came on showing all the incredible healthcare workers risking their lives to keep so many of us safe. Within seconds I felt fat tears rolling down my cheeks, the tightness in my throat clenching in a silent sob.

No, things aren't actually normal right now.

But for my own mental and emotional well-being—my own mental and emotional stamina—I'm welcoming those moments that feel almost normal.

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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