Anxiety, Expectations, and Pressing Pause

This unprecedented time has been teaching me something new every day. Every day I try to find out what I can take away from this pandemic. My most recent revelation is that my anxiety is heightened by my expectations. I don’t know about you, but when this whole thing started, I immediately decided that I needed to become the best teacher ever finding every possible fun activity for my students. I was enticed by the idea that we did not have to stick directly to a curriculum and finally had a bit more flexibility. I was spending hours trying to figure out ways to make this all fun and exciting for my students. Before I knew it, it was like so much that I take on in the past. I felt like I was burning out quickly…and it was just week 2. At the beginning of all of this, I also thought that I was going to work to be the best mom ever during our time quarantined together. I was going to set up work stations in my home for each of my three kids, myself and my teacher husband. We were going to work gloriously through all of our assignments and online classes and everyone would be as on task as we are when we are all away at our respective schools. Guess what…that has yet to happen. Of course, I blamed myself for the lack of structure even though I equipped everyone with paper, binders, a cup of freshly sharpened pencils and work spaces adorned with pretty table clothes. I also started looking at this time as an opportunity to get every nook and cranny of my house cleaned and organized just like I had always dreamed of doing while driving home from work so many times. I thought that this was the opportunity to get all bills paid and a system of organization created like no other! I wanted to be the Julia Child of dinner making and have fun breakfasts on the table when the kids came downstairs because, after all, that is what I always told myself I would be if I ever got the chance to work from home. Oh, did I mention that I also conjured up the idea that I would become a work out champion and lose 20 pounds by week 3 of this whole thing???

Well, as you can imagine, not one single part of my day looks anything like these expectations. Most days start with me picking up the living room from whatever everyone has left behind the night before. Breakfast is usually cereal or toaster strudels made by the kids themselves. The house is picked up and some rooms have gotten some deep cleaning, but then they tend to get messed up pretty quickly. Last night’s dinner was frozen pizza and chicken nuggets and because of other nights like that, I have gained 5 pounds. My anxiety most days has been pretty high to say the least.

However, I did realize something yesterday. My lesson for yesterday is that this is not a “vacation” or time off. See, this time is not anything that any of us could have prepared for. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be a work from home mom during a pandemic. Never could I have imagined teaching my 6th graders from a fold out table in my dining room. Never could I have prepared for any of this uncertainty. Never could I have prepared for being the mother of kids during a time when everyone is trying to live every day while worrying if they or a loved one will be the next to get sick. What I need to learn in this time and what I hope that everyone can learn….. we need to take a pause. We need to remember that while we may be home and have some time away from work, we are also dealing with a pandemic! We are dealing with scary news at every turn. We need to take this time to take care of ourselves and our loved ones in the best way that we can. We may never get (and hope we don’t get) this time again. It is ok not to get every big project that you think you need to get done completed. It is more than ok to take a nap in the middle of the day so that you feel rested. It is ok to snuggle up with your kids and watch a funny show rather than make them sit for hours doing online school work. Teachers, it is ok to lower your expectations for yourselves and your students when it comes to the lessons that you are sending. None of us know what others are going through right now. Everyone is behind closed doors. While we may be connecting more through zoom meetings and Facetime chats, we don’t know how this is really affecting others. So, my goals have changed for this time. My new goal is to use this time to recharge and rest so that when we are all able to go back to living, we can do so with great vigor!! I am going to tell myself every day that it is ok not to have great expectations for the day. It is ok to work on me and to rest when I can. It is ok to worry more about checking on the well being of my students each day rather than sending them long and involved lessons because their mental health is more important right now than anything else. My dear friend and yoga teacher Mari, from Soul Candy Project, always reminds us in class to press pause. Learning to do that in yoga helps us to remember to do this in our every day lives. I am going to really start taking that advice! I hope that you will too!

Here is my latest mindful minute video that will help you to press pause today! Have a great day!

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