How turning off the News The last 6 months, Made me a Better Parent and Person

How turning off the News The last 6 months, Made me a Better Parent and Person

Unless you live under a rock, you would have missed the Global Pandemic since March of 2020. I know I am not alone in confessing it was a dark time for me and my sanity. Everywhere I turned was bad news. Turning on the local news or reading the newspaper was an anxiety-driven event. I would mentally prepare myself for bad news, but somehow, my psyche was never fully prepared for how bad things got. If you lived anywhere within a 50-mile radius of a city, you were hit with the worst of it, because not only were you watching the news which was ridden with death tolls, but the sound of ambulance sirens was constant and the sound of empty streets was deafening.

My parents lived in Corona Queens, not far from Elmhurst hospital, which was ground zero for death tolls. In their apartment complex alone, several neighbors passed. The world was filled with despair, many of us tried to hang on to hope by listening to positive and uplifting podcasts like “Some Good News with John Krasinki’, or comedy specials on Netflix.

Simply said, it was our generations’ equivalent of WWI & WWII. Never in our lifetime had we experienced anything more earth-shattering than the year 2020!

I was battling with the worst bout of anxiety, PTSD, and sadness (possibly mild depression), I had ever felt in my life. I was beginning to think there was something severely wrong with me. I was jumpy, paranoid, would cry all the time, and stopped eating (just to name a few of the things happening to me!) The worst part was it affected my ability to be a functioning parent and human being. That is what hit me the hardest. Children at any age need you a lot, but as toddlers, their very existence depends on having a mentally and physically healthy adult to take care of them. My thoughts would spiral about how bad I was doing this whole parent and life thing and it put me in a very bad place. So, I made the conscious decision mid-way through that summer, to turn IT ALL OFF. You heard me right, I turned off my TV and I stayed as far as I could from my iPhone, to do anything but the most essential tasks.

Now, many might think this was naive. How could I live in a bubble, when people were dying and the world was in a state of chaos? Well, It was the only way I could get through life. You might think this would completely alienate me from knowing what was going on, but this was not the case at all. My husband who has a stronger mental fortitude for bad news kept me abreast of what was going on in the world. With the caveat...he would filter out anything but the most necessary things I needed to know.

I recognize not everyone has a partnership like this at home. But to be honest, it almost didn’t matter, because through my friends, family and other sources (from time to time reading periodicals and websites of trusted sources)...I was staying very informed.

What’s even better is that I was spending and creating some of the best memories with my children. I get teary-eyed when I  think about it now. Among some of the most wonderful things I got to do with all the mental space I was saving for my family:

Picked up baking, oh yeah, the weight came right back on. But if you don’t think making rainbow cookies with your kids is fun, or watching glitter sprinkles of sugar cover a gingerbread house like magic- you would be dead wrong!

I started cooking. And I mean cooking. Discovering new recipes was an exciting adventure. I made some of the best meatballs I have ever made in my life! (Hint; The secret is you don’t want them to be too dry when you’re forming them so don’t add too many bread crumbs, they should look a little runny. Also… dried-out old bread is FANTASTIC!).

We picked up new hobbies. The Cincinnati Zoo was one of the few zoos to do virtual tours with their animals. We had a blast watching these videos. Afterward, I would take drawing paper and finger brushes and we would each do a rendering of our favorite animal at the zoo. We also picked up yoga! Cosmic Kids Yoga was a fantastic resource for online yoga courses, and I fully participated in these classes too! It was a reminder for all of us to practice mindfulness, this is something that helped me get through my roughest patches.

We had dance parties. Do you know when you dance in the shower like no one is watching? That’s exactly what we did. Spotify has a station called ‘Kidz Bop’ that has the current 50 top songs in a kid-friendly version (ie: No cursing). If you’re ever in a bad mood, turn off everything you have going on, and turn this on and have a dance party with your kids. I promise you...nothing will shake off a bad mood faster!

But most importantly, I took more time to be present with my family. Not fake present, having my mind go to the next ten chores I needed to do after they went to bed. NO, present, and this, in turn, made me a better parent and person.

These days, I still prefer to listen to educational podcasts rather than watch the news and I’m truly in a better place. For some, the struggle still exists so do NOT feel judged for doing what you need to do to get through a difficult time! It helps to share your feelings with a doctor and/or community of friends and family.

If you have advice on things that helped you get through a difficult time, share it in the comments below, or tag us @mommabear_usa.

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