#MMInspire: Thriving not just surviving during COVID-19
In March 2020, many of us suddenly had to change our perspective and mindset on life as parents. Fast forward to now, and we’re still in a worldwide pandemic—that isn’t going away anytime soon. But in the midst of parenting during COVID-19, many of us have found ways to juggle our daily expectations and more importantly some of us have found ways to bring positivity into how we manage our daily lives as well as how we connect with our extended families.
It’s important to be able to embrace both the challenges and the changes they bring to our lives as much as we can but also feel the loss of what we had before.
For the next few months, we’re launching a new feature series on moms in our masalamommas community who are doing just that and finding ways to pivot to help their families thrive during this pandemic. Perhaps it’s a new journey, a new project or how you’re balancing the needs of your family with your own. If you know a mom or are a mom who fits the bill, please get in touch at email@example.com
This month we feature Seema Desai, who wears a lot of hats—wife, mom, dentist, and yoga teacher-in-training, to name a few. For Seema, a mom living in Austin, Texas, yoga, mindfulness towards ourselves, each other, and the planet are her biggest passions. Her journey as a mother did not start as she expected. She found yoga as relief from postpartum depression, and as time went on and her yoga practice deepened, the mindfulness began to flourish. She finds mindfulness during COVID-19 as one of the ways to help her family be centred and Thrive. On her own blog she also talks about accepting fear, teaching kids to problem-solve with kindness and finding ways to include self-care in her routine.
1) What are the biggest changes you’ve had to make in your family home since COVID?
I feel like the biggest challenge we’ve had to face is uncertainty. We know so little about the virus, really–how it affects kids versus adults, or what the long-term implications (if any) there are, both mentally and physically. We don’t know how long the pandemic will last, and it’s affected us all in such unimaginable ways. So, having said that, the biggest CHANGE we’ve had to make is to learn to make friends with uncertainty–to let go of expectations in so many ways. My kids have had the opportunity to learn what it’s like to let go of the expectations/desires to meet friends often, or go out to restaurants, or take vacations, and find center and happiness within themselves and our family/home.
As someone who has chosen to stay at home with my kids and keep them virtually learning, I have had to let go of lots of expectations of my kids, my husband, the housekeeping, and most importantly, MYSELF. So often, WE are the ones that are standing in the way of us experiencing true gratefulness or experiencing life for the way it really is, and not through the tainted lens of our own realities that we create in our minds. I’m finding, not surprisingly, that if I’m centered, it’s much easier to help keep my family centered. Easier, though certainly not easy! 🙂
2) What are some of the things you do as a mom to keep your kids positive?
We make time every day for meditation, surya namaskar (sun salutations) and affirmations, especially on weekdays before school. My husband and I make sure that they are getting enough sleep, and that they’re eating lots of whole, plant-based foods. I am a huge believer that sleep, diet, and movement are key players in keeping your mind and body balanced, healthy, and optimized. Keeping these constants, and having a routine, gives some structure and predictability, leading to less mood swings caused by lack of sleep, sugar crashes, etc. I also have a goal of letting them get some sun for at least 15-20 minutes a day, as Vitamin D is imperative for health, and being in the sun is a great way to boost mood. We’ve also let them do silly things like have dessert before dinner or create silly characters which we play (Mine is Mrs. Teabiscuit, a Mary Poppins-esque British-Indian woman with a weakness for made-from-scratch pumpkin muffins and chai). We’ve camped out in the backyard, ordered in food from their favourite restaurants occasionally, and had movie nights.
I think so far, though, my favourite thing that I do with the kids is a special journal that we share. I have one for each kid, and we write anything we want, from sharing fears to silly drawings. It’s a safe space that provides non-judgment from either side, and plus, it encourages their spelling, writing, and critical thinking skills. When we’re ready to hand it off to the other person, we “hide” it somewhere in their room as a surprise! It’s so special and fun.
3) Many parents have had to pivot in their work or home to have a different mindset, and some of started something new or a new venture, can you share anything you’ve done to pivot during this time? How has it changed your mindset, outlook?
I had already pivoted before this in terms of my own work/new venture, but now, given that I don’t have any time away from the kids to get work done uninterrupted, the biggest change I’ve had to make is letting go of any expectations as to what “should” get done that day.
If something is really important, I prioritize it, meaning something else gives that day; maybe my yoga session is only 20 minutes instead of a full hour, or I don’t get the dishes and laundry done, or my husband steps in to help with school.
But if it’s something that is important to me but isn’t urgent, it goes on a list of things to get done when the universe tells me it’s time and it’s energetically aligned with everything. We can’t control everything, nor should we try…though I’m as guilty as anyone of trying. Reminding myself of this, gently, and trusting that things will work out in the best possible way, is what has gotten me through the pandemic so far.
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Today was a hard day, for both me and the kids. Tensions ran high. Things were said. No amount or type of mindfulness exercises seemed to help. But when Big Emotions calmed down, we took time to reconnect. To reassure each other that no matter what, we love each other and that we ask for forgiveness for our words and actions. Sometimes that’s all we can do. For all the parents and kiddos doing school virtually, hang in there. You’re doing great! #backtovirtualschool #backtoschool2020 #mommyandmeyoga #newschoolyear📚 #realmotherhoodstories #beginagain #reconnectwithyourkids #reconnect #mindfulmama #mindfulmamas
4) How do you maintain connections to your extended family during this time?
I’m fortunate in that my extended family is very close. We have agreed that the only people we will see is each other and make adjustments as to who that is accordingly. For example, some of my nieces/nephews are doing in-person school. We use more caution when it comes to meeting them and their parents. But we see my parents-in-law and sisters-in-law regularly, who are quarantined from pretty much everyone except for us. My husband does a lot of the grocery shopping, too, since he’s the one out and about for work already and will often pick stuff up for my in-laws if needed and drop it off, therefore minimizing how often they leave to get groceries.
5) How are you staying culturally connected to your roots, identity during this time?
I love reading them books about our culture. Now that it’s time for Navratri and Diwali, that’s what we’ve been focusing on. We also do a lot of yoga, we speak in Gujarati whenever we can, and we all love Bollywood songs and movies. I also try to make Indian food often.
6)What’s your motto for yourself as we go through this pandemic and what’s your message for other moms?
Trust yourself and trust the universe. Trust the process. Do one thing every day that makes tomorrow better. It could be as simple as getting a full 8 hours of sleep or taking a few minutes to just breathe and be. These seemingly small, mindful choices can have a HUGE impact when you step back and look at the big picture. Remember, we’re playing the LONG game here, especially as parents. So, if you’re going to do something, do it mindfully, with as much love and kindness as you can for each other, the planet, and most importantly, for yourself.
Ways for readers to find Seema:
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