Mental Health Day
Hello anxiety my dark old friend…
Today marks World Mental Health Day, and for all of us surviving the pandemic we know it has been a true testament to our mental strength, especially for those with children. Does anyone remember the days before the pandemic? Knowing you can comfortably visit an open space to burn off energy after giving your child candy? Not having to avoid eye contact with your neighbor for also having suffered loud yelling and running around inside? As a parent to a now 3-year old and 5-year old, I’ve done what any parent would do for their children, and that is to adapt even during the toughest times. My children were the light in these dark moments and it was my mission to keep them bright and joyful throughout.
If I wasn’t superhuman before, I’m now what I like to call myself “one bad mother.” I want to always be that superhero for my children even if that means talking about some of the scary stuff that’s happening in the world, and admitting that I can be scared too. Keeping the dialogue and answering any unsettling questions in a “friendlier” way was a skill I sharpened during the start of the pandemic. I chose to highlight the fact that we are trying our best to keep ourselves healthy, and our friends and family healthy as well. I would try to turn things into a positive, for example, we get to see Daddy more now that he’s working from home, we get to play more games together, or give permission to take out every toy in the toy box even if that means the dog will get ahold of them. Less scary and more fun was our new rule to live by. I know children love spending time with their parents, and this was a sweet reminder of something I sometimes often forget.
One of the many things I learned during the dark days of quarantine was the new level of boredom and anxiety that set in. Parks got closed, and maybe we should put playdates on hold for a while. Oh my goodness, how are two toddler boys in an 800 sq ft apartment going to blow off steam?? I shortly realized that you know what, it’s okay to be bored, tear the house apart or let out a swear after stepping on a minefield of toys. And like many parents I strive to limit screen time. Some may consider this a form of torture, but I took this as an opportunity to watch my children learn, create and be more independent. I loved the quiet moments sitting on the living room floor where we would play games, do puzzles, make costumes, or build a fort to get lost in. Afterall, boredom generates creativity.
I’m grateful things are slowly picking up again, after a year of remote learning we’re back in school, I think this is great for our overall mental health. As we take a few steps forward and sometimes a few steps back, I have to remind myself we’ll power through. We’ll reflect on staying positive and I’ll pride myself in being the rock my children need during the good, bad, and ugly. Stay strong and Happy Mental Health, you got this!
This piece was written by Kate. Kate’s a NYC parent of two young boys, ages 3 and 5 and fur baby, Mr. Biscuits. She lives in the West Village with high school sweetheart and now hubby, Dylan. When not working or managing the school shuffle, Kate is running, cycling, painting, or as her children call it, “sitting in her lounge chair” (aka the couch). She loves a good laugh and literally dances like no one is watching.