Parenting advice during a pandemic. | Handel Group

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The Worst Version of Myself

Mom mom mom mom mom mom mom mom mom mom….

It was 10am on day something of god-knows-how-long school will be canceled. I had my phone in one hand looking down at every text that came in for a fix of news or an update from a friend. My 4-year-old who had been up since 5:45 had just finished breakfast. I asked him to wash his hands, he jumped up, grabbed his stool and ran to the sink where I was standing and he started pulling the faucet, “na na boo boo” as he wriggled and hit my nespresso frother off the counter, breaking apart on the floor.   

On a normal day, I may have just gotten annoyed. Today, I lost it. I started to scream like that crazy mom you see on Instagram. “Jonah! Stop, stop, stop! Get out of the kitchen!” And the voices in my head, or as we call them at HG, our inner dialogue, started their own chorus. They went something like this: 

I can’t take anymore of this, it’s only 8:30.

OMG please stop talking. 

When is this f*cking virus going to end. 

What if my nanny has “C” and she can’t come help me, I am going to lose it. 

What if my nanny is a carrier and brings it into my house.   

What if I get “C” and it’s me and him, and I can’t take care of him?  

What if I already have “C,” my throat kind of hurts and I have a headache. 

As the thoughts got louder, I got more anxious. The more anxious I got, the more short tempered I got with him. I was yelling at him for being too loud, getting pissed that he was making a mess, and irritated that he was literally hanging on my leg. At that point, I honestly didn’t know what I was more fearful of, the pandemic or my son.  

Then, some other scary thoughts started pouring in. These were different. They had more weight and evidence behind them. HOWEVER, these particular, spewing theories of mine didn’t appear to me as grossly generalized truths, they were THE truth, and I was fast proving my whacky theories and developing a plan for each one.  

See for yourself:

I am going to have to take a leave of absence. I can’t f*cking work if I am mom-ing all day.

I can’t do this by myself, I am going to have to drive somewhere where there is no “C.” OMG  I am going to have a nervous breakdown. 

He is way too hyper to stay inside if they quarantine us. 

One more “mom” and I’m going to lose my sh-t.

The more news I consumed, the worse my behavior got and I only wanted him off of me and away from me. I was getting angry, mean, and short tempered. I quickly became the worst version of myself. I was acting like a junkie,  looking at my phone for a fix of news, trying to stop my kid from wanting more attention and, all the while, holding on by a thread. 

And guess what? 

My son did exactly what I did. The worse my behavior got, the worse he got. Hell was my reality and it was a quick entry.  Faster than this pandemic hit us. 

One evening, he wanted to play hide and seek. It was a LONG day and I only wanted him to go to bed. As I started to pull his little body off the sofa, he held onto the pillows tighter and tighter. I grabbed his arm firmly. He bit me. 

That was it. My inner HG light finally switched on. I could see light again. This is exactly what dogs do when they are scared. He is scared and he needs me to be a better version of me. I don’t have to be the best, but I owe it to both of us to do better than what was showing up as his mom. 

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I reached out to my coach (yes, coaches have coaches) and we put me in mom bootcamp. I had to put some strong promises in place if we were going to get through this.  

At HG, we have a basic principle called promises and consequences. This principle kicks bad behavior in the arse quickly, because we as human beings can be pretty poorly behaved. 

Everyone has bad traits and behaviours and while you may be gasping at mine because  maybe they are a far cry from yours, I can all but promise that you have a few of your own. Maybe you’re sitting at home junking out on CNN, downing a bottle of wine a night, or mindlessly munching Sour Patch Kids from old halloween bags. Yours may even suck worse than me. 

Promise number one was to talk back to my inner dialogue right away and if I started to spiral, my consequence was 30 jumping jacks. 

Talking back to your negative inner dialogue or thoughts and consequencing your bad behavior is like being your own insta coach. And because fear DOES spread faster than the virus itself, I had to instill some other very strong promises: 

  • If I get set off, besides jumping jacks, I owe HIM an extra book. 
  • I stopped reading memes and opinions from friends on Instagram. 
  • I silenced all group texts so I could choose what to read. 
  • I get 15 minutes of news per day, I can divide that up any way I want to. 
  • I watch comedy or rom-coms only. 
  • I have to plan out meals for the week on Sunday evening. 
  • He can wear pj’s all day, I can’t say a thing about it. 
  • Dance breaks are a daily requirement, preferably with my son. 
  • Morning hugs + cuddles are imperative. 

I also had to debunk my own duh-mb theories and my head’s morbid plans about my present and future situation. Obviously, all the crack news I was listening to was not helping. I had to look at what was possible and get creative about my time and my resources. With no nanny and no family support system, this WAS going to be a challenge, BUT it’s time for all of us, including me me me me me me me me, to author or create what it is that we want. As they say, if you know the game, you can win the game. 

I get to decide who I want to be and how I want to show up for my son and for this wild ride we are all on. What my son does is less important than HOW I am behaving with him. He’s 4, I’m…nevermind. 

Obviously, I was the one who needed the pull-ups.  

After a few days we started to get into a rhythm. Look, this is not easy and I am not saying this will go without speed-bumps and time-outs (mostly mine), but I am being a nicer, prouder person, and I can go to bed happily knowing that I can do this. 

We are all in time-out right now but let’s be the best humans we can about it.