This article, written by Carmichael Lynch Relate Executive Vice President Beth Garcia, originally appeared in PRWeek.
The extreme burden of the pandemic has taken its toll on us all.
However, in the day to day we’re learning that working moms have been stretched more than most.
For me, mom of three girls aged 7, 9 and 12, the pandemic has driven, challenged and pushed me in ways I would have probably laughed at a year ago.
I thought I was already juggling it all, from client meetings to pitch presentations and business travel to soccer tournaments, dance recitals and science fairs. I had no idea.
While the things likely won’t ever be “normal” again, I have experienced a strength, resiliency and adaptability I didn’t know I possessed.
The past year was really hard. But I’ve been able to show three curious girls how to balance uncertainty, set boundaries and demonstrate empathy.
We bonded together through the hard patches, loneliness and fear. I live in Austin, Texas, where the pandemic met a cold snap this spring, freshly testing both our personal reserves and the power grid.
My girls watched as their mom did her best to demonstrate consistent drive, energy and focus to keep the family running.
They’ve gained perspective and compassion. We practiced gratitude for what we have and developed resilience against the things we knew we were sacrificing for a greater good.
My girls had a front-row seat to what it takes to “adult” and I couldn’t let them down. Tactics I’ve embraced throughout my life to manage stress became ever more important this past year, along with a few important reminders.
Do what you can when you can. Sometimes work or homework happens at night and on the weekends. We decide when work ends and our personal life begins and vice versa – and sometimes that can get blurry. At one point or another this past year, we’ve all needed to step away to make space for ourselves, our families, our feelings. There’s a quiet, essential strength to be gained in setting, and honoring, boundaries.
Make like Elsa and let it go. It’s okay if your house isn’t clean. It’s okay if the laundry is piling up. Or that one email or homework assignment gets tended to a little later. You’ll get to it. Prioritize what needs to be accomplished, communicate what you need to and let the rest get done when you can do it.
Whether in person, from 6 feet away or fully virtual, community matters. My friends and colleagues have encouraged me, supported me and listened to me. They’ve made me a better mother, wife and professional. Showing my girls that they can rely on a network of friends to support them in tough times is a lesson that will carry them through good and not-so-good times their whole lives through.
Environment matters. I lead our agency’s home and design practice, so it’s probably no surprise that my home is my sanctuary. Small changes to my living and work spaces like wall color, lighting, changing up seating or even adding a plant in a corner made a big difference in the face of a lot of days that felt the same.
A strong body equals a sound mind. In the early days of the pandemic, when gyms closed, I marveled at the number of people outside walking, running and biking. Moving my body – whether in a Pilates class or an evening walk around our neighborhood – has allowed me to model a practice that’s relieved stress and helped me stay focused throughout my life. Being able to take a walk with my girls or even have lunch outside was a way to slow down and appreciate the many little moments in the last year for which I’m grateful.
For 12 months we’ve been on a journey that I never would have asked for – but it’s also one that’s strengthened our character. We grew as a family, a connection that’s far deeper than just our shared Wi-Fi.