Last Friday, I exited my email, closed my laptop and said goodbye to another week of work. I was ready to start my weekend (and dare I say, even try to relax a little bit).
It was a fleeting thought however. I exited my office to discover the living room floor covered in dolls, play-doh (which had been smashed into the couch) and snack wrappers placed on every surface in the house. Half eaten lunch plates were abandoned on the table and the kitchen counter was nowhere to be seen.
My husband, who is a first responder, was at work for the next few days. The house was going to take hours to uncover—even with help from my purple friend, Barney, singing his motivational cleanup song. Dinner, baths and bedtime were on deck. It was a noodle and nuggy kind of night.
Honestly, this has been our regular routine since the beginning of the pandemic, especially because I work from home and my girls stay at home. The house and (at times) my sanity experiences an unkempt transformation. If my husband is working, it may take the entire weekend to bounce back from the mess—only to begin the cycle again the following week.
The burnout I’m experiencing is real and I know I’m not alone. The pandemic has taken a toll on the mental, emotional and physical health of mothers everywhere. All we can do is take-it-one-day-at-a-time.
With Mother’s Day (MD) approaching this weekend, my goal is to be present and appreciate the time with my girls. Likewise, if you’re on the official MD planning committee, or you’re a mother simply wanting to enjoy the day, here are a few ideas to keep things simple and fun.
The night before MD, get all of the essentials out of the way.
“Mom, I don’t need a bath tonight,” my toddler said. I touched her hair. It felt like sandpaper.
“Did you just dump a bucket of sand on your head?” I asked.
“Nooooo…” she responded. She averted her eyes and smiled. I peered into the backyard to find the sandbox lid tossed to the side.
Kids know two things: how to get dirty and how to make a mess. So, put the sticky, sandy, adorable creature(s) into the bath and let them play. That way you don't have to worry about it the next day.
Prepare lunches and snacks the night before. This knocks another task off the to do list prior to MD. This will help minimize the time spent in the kitchen and free up more time to get an Arnold Palmer in mama’s hand.
Avoid the mess. Take the kids out for the afternoon.
“Can we go on a walk to the grass field?” My oldest asked.
“Yeah, mama. Can we go?” My toddler looked at me with giant puppy eyes.
The grass field is an easy yes because it’s walking distance from home. The girls can run free, the sunshine can kiss our cheeks and I can sit back (even just for a second).
After being cooped up for a year, it’s a gift to get out of the house. Pack snacks and a lunch and go visit a local park (ie. it can be the lunch that was prepped the night before). Or, walk to the nearest grass field and throw down a blanket. Think simple and easy. The win is that the house isn't being destroyed while you're out.
Ease into the end of your day.
Continue the theme of simplicity into the end of your day and order dinner ahead of time. Dishes on MD are only there to cause heartache. Avoid dishes at all cost. Instead, invest in a local business or grab a pre-made meal at the grocery store and take dinner and dishes off the to do list. The result is a clean sink, more cuddles with the kiddos, time for yourself and maybe even another Arnold Palmer.
When showing appreciation and gratitude for loved ones, especially mothers, don’t overthink it. Keep flexible plans to help create space for any mama to relax and enjoy themselves. Whatever you might be envisioning for the day, hopefully these ideas will help.
One final note. As wisely said by the maternal health advocate, Liya Kebede, “The world needs our mothers.”
So, for all those mothers out there, I see you. Take a moment to breath and recognize how awesome you are. You are doing a great job and you are enough. Thank you for everything and enjoy your special day.
Happy Mothers Day.