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Parenting during Covid-19 presents plenty of challenges. There are many obvious downsides to having to quarantine with a baby: the pain of losses (of grandparents meeting a new baby, of celebratory “firsts”, of an outside world to explore freely), the isolation, the anxiety surrounding the unknown.
But in a time that is keeping soon-to-be and new mothers at home more than others, many moms are finding creative outlets for connection, joy, quiet time, and more.
In essence: There are silver linings to be found.
Here, a few of them that you are free to enjoy.
Even small breaks for walks outside the house, trips to get groceries, or bike rides have helped Cady Henry, a 34-year-old mom in Liverpool, NY find moments of mental clarity. “I allowed myself to mourn the loss of what I thought our son’s first spring and summer would like,” she says, noting that the breaks also give her a few minutes a day to focus on her health.
(Plus, research finds that even 15 minutes or so in nature is beneficial for mental health for both adults and children.)
Support is a crucial part of new motherhood, now more so than ever. But in order to get the support you need during a global pandemic, you have to be a little bit creative. When Lauren Arabia, a 31-year-old mother based in Old Bridge, NJ had her baby in December and shortly thereafter entered quarantined, she felt anxious and isolated. “I felt alone and had little to no support from my mom friends,” she says. But after joining a virtual mom’s group via Disney, she says she found “one of the kindest souls I’ve ever met.” Arabia started an online workout regime with her new friend, connected with other likeminded moms, and now feels support even though she’s never met her new friends in person. “A lot of them are doing the first- time-mom thing with me and some of them have babies born the same month. It’s been a blessing to have that group.”
Henry notes that she’s personally made a big effort to keep up with therapy via Zoom, her son’s music classes (which were moved online), and she regularly FaceTimes with friends who have children.
Support can come in all forms and even though virtual support will always feel different than in-real-life connections, it’s an important branch for health and wellbeing and can keep you connected in a world where it’s all-too-easy to feel alone.
Pregnancy isn’t always all celebrations and feel-good moments—and the postpartum period can present challenges galore. But you don’t need to stay quiet about the hard parts (in fact, it’s super important to speak up if you’re struggling).
“I’m finding comfort and a silver lining through using my voice,” says Maddison R., a 32-year-old in Toronto who says she hasn’t loved her pregnancy experience so far. “Maybe if I start saying things aloud to friends and family, people will open their eyes to how we don’t need to keep quiet and just be thankful. I’ve had a lot of great open conversations with my pregnant and mom friends. This has made me realize that we all have our struggles, so I feel less isolated.”
When you don’t have a lot of energy left, you start to realize where exactly you want to spend it (as well as where you may have been wasting it). Henry, for one, notes that she and her family have spent many slow and lazy days together just being—and have learned to say “no” when they don’t want to do something.
“I don’t feel obligated to make plans or do something just because someone asked. I am creating boundaries to protect my mental health,” she says. “When the world is stripped away from you, you really realize who and what is important.”
Hope White, a 28-year-old in Baltimore, MD with a soon-to-be eight-month-old says she’s brought the beach inside to her daughter via a Cheerios sandbox, she journals to try to remember the small moments from days that seem to run together, she taught herself how to crochet to make her daughter a baby blanket, and she pours her heart into learning about baby food and gentle parenting.
“I’m just trying to soak up every ounce of time with my daughter,” she says. “I've turned my attitude into gratitude for all of this precious time with my daughter locked inside just enjoying and getting to learn and grow together.”
How you appreciate the small, everyday moments will vary. But anything from soaking in a quick, five-minute skincare routine that makes you feel good to taking a few phone-free moments every day can help keep you connected to the present moment.