PPD on the Rise During Pandemic and Worldwide Protest - A Therapist Shares 7 Best Tips on How to Keep Your Head Above Water
I think it's the craziest time I've ever lived in: the Corona crisis. Who would have ever thought the whole world would be shut down by a giant flu virus? I most certainly don’t want to downplay this, because Covid-19 is as real as it gets. My husband is a surgeon and is currently working intensively on the best possible care for all the Corona patients in the hospital. This means that new bed spaces have to be made everywhere in order to create more places in the the ICU. In addition, all nurses, maternity nurses, midwives, police officers, supermarket employees, garbage collection services, teachers, and many other professions work hard to keep our country going. At the moment there is a lot going on in the USA (racial violence, police brutality, and protests). But also outside America, a lot is happening. In The Netherlands where I live for example, supporters for #blacklivesmatter took to the streets and there were a lot of protests. There is so much going on in the world right now. It can sometimes feel like the entire world is on fire. When you’re going through this pandemic, while homeschooling your kids and also constantly seeing the news, it makes finding positivity or some time to unwind very hard. So how do you keep your head above water as a parent during these challenging times?
We are suddenly home teachers
Since most of us parents have been at home, suddenly our multitasking ability is being called upon. Working from home full-time and having your kids there 24/7 can be challenging. But we are also renamed as a home teacher all of a sudden. Something I have not aspired until the Corona virus hit our country hard. But moms do it anyway, because this is how we roll. We put our backs into it and just go with it. In addition, this uncertain situation we’re currently going through is challenging. We are chronically overwhelmed by the care for our children, the household, work, the fear of infection and the constant stream of news that enters your house through your TV, tablet and phone.
How am I going to manage all of this?
It is completely understandable that it sometimes can feel like you are almost drowning. Many mothers ask themselves daily: how am I going to manage all of this? The homework schedules are being send to you whether you want them or not. We get e-mails and messages all day long, tips and tricks on how we should tackle this quarantine situation as a mother. Does this make us happy? Not necessarily, I think.
If you have just become a mom or dad, this period is completely intense. The initial period after giving birth is already intense, let alone if you also get a Corona Crisis as a gift on top all of that. The hormones are rushing through your body, you barely sleep and you have to get used to your new role as mom. Add that to the cramps your baby is having and the enormous sense of responsibility you experience, you can probably imagine new moms are having an especially tough time. Because, new parents are struggling enough as it is after giving birth and have their hands full handling everything, having a pandemic on top of all that is really a lot to take.
7 best tips to get through the current challenges
Whether you just have given birth or already have older children or whether you have one child or a whole bunch of them, these are the 7 best tips to get through the current situation in the world as well as possible:
1. Develop a routine that suits you as a family so that you get more regularity in your days. This way you and your child (ren) know exactly where you stand and you can also get some peace of mind every once in a while. So, for example, you can have a cup of tea on the couch while your baby is sleeping or the older children can watch TV and you can catch your breath for a minute.
2. Set a timer when you need to feed your baby, when your kids have to do their homework or when something else important needs to happen. Any help is welcome, so just set that timer. That's not weird, that's just being smart.
3. Don't be fooled by everything you read on social media or news sites. It is very tempting to search all over the internet for the latest information regarding Corona. That gives a sense of control. But actually this is nothing more than creating false sense of security for yourself. The pandemic will not all of a sudden change if you consult the CNN website twenty times a day. This will costs you a lot of energy. And you need this energy for yourself and for your family.
4. Try to accept that you will not know or understand everything there is to know about homeschooling right away and that this is completely fine. You don't have to know everything all at once, mama! And although it seems as if some mothers seem to handle it all effortlessly, that is not the case. Those other moms are struggling too, really!
5. Talk to friends and share your experiences with them. Sometimes it can be a huge relief to have a nice chat or let your tears flow. You don't always have to be strong. The recognition that you find with other mothers who are in the same boat can be so nice. Laugh together or shed a tear: everything is allowed!
6. Plan half a day during the week (or one per hour) for yourself. No, that is not selfish and no: this doesn’t make you a degenerate mother. I understand that this can be very tricky mid Corona crisis, because you and your partner work a lot from home. Or, if one of you has a vital job (or perhaps you both have). As a mom you also have to be able to recharge and that is only possible if you make some time for yourself. Do what feels right for you or whatever makes you happy. For some moms that could be sports, for others reading a nice book. There are many options for home workouts on Youtube for example or reading the latest books on your e-reader. The most important thing is, that you can recharge and regain your (mental) strength!
Image via Eyeswoon
7. Embrace the uncertainty and despair that you sometimes feel during this challenging period in your life. The harder you resist fears, gloom and loneliness, the harder you will make it for yourself. The pandemic might be forcing you to have a new balance in your life right now. For both you and your partner, this Corona crisis takes a lot of getting used to and, moreover, putting up with. So, if you keep looking for confirmation or comparing yourself to other moms or families, that will probably make you feel even more insecure. Try to say to yourself, "I am a good mother for my child(ren)" or "Well is good enough, it doesn't have to be perfect all the time." If necessary, repeat this a couple of times a day. Be kind to yourself! That really, really helps!
Need a helping hand?
If you have read the above and feel like you’re fully recognizing this and could use a helping hand, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I see a lot of moms through Zoom or Skype and help as many moms as possible who are currently struggling postpartum during these incredibly stressful times.
Tilda Timmers is a Netherland-based Dutch therapist specialized in supporting moms going through PPD, a mom of two little girls and an author of a book 'This is Postpartum" launching worldwide on June 16th. Find her practice here and more about her book here.