Being Intentional In a Time of Chaos | East Texas Moms

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A few weeks ago, I opened up Google to find more information about the Coronavirus.

Initially, I didn’t have much of a reaction and thought “what’s the big deal?”

Fast forward a few days and then a few weeks and I’m sitting in a completely different place where the word intentional  is taking on an entirely new meaning.

As we’re stepping into social distancing as a community, I’ve noticed unexpected reactions and emotions in myself…most noticeably on Sunday. The day I was attempting to adjust my vacation plans, work plans, and move all my therapy appointments online for the time being.

Of course, that same afternoon my baby wouldn’t nap without being held (which is NOT like him- he’s my happy sleeper baby!) and I found myself stuck in his room with lights off, fans on, and noise machine on…. and no phone.

At first, I spent time trying to figure out how to telepathically communicate to my husband to bring my phone to me or how to slip out into the living room with my three year old playing cars with his dad to get my phone without waking up a sleeping baby.

But then I looked at my sleeping almost-one year old’s face and everything else melted away.

For a minute. For a minute I was 100% wrapped up only in the sweet face of that sleeping babe.

But as I sat staring at my sweet, sleeping baby, I began to notice my mind simultaneously racing to all the texts and emails I needed to respond to, what scheduling adjustments I needed to look at, or worrying if we had enough milk? eggs? cheese? I haven’t done my weekly grocery trip yet and I hear all the things are gone!

But when I noticed my body tensing and that familiar ball of anxiety in my chest, I would turn my attention back to my baby’s sleeping face and really search his face. Once my soul settled a little, it became easy to study his long lashes, the curve of his round cheeks, his little fingers wrapped around his “papi”, the slow rise and fall of his chest as he breathed deeply, sleeping safely in the comfort of his mama’s arms.

My baby will be one on Friday and I have no idea how that happened so quickly. I don’t get to rock him to sleep or hold him while he’s sleeping hardly ever, so I decided to be intentional about soaking up this sweet moment in the midst of chaos.

Noticing the Chaos in the Chaos

During times like the Coronavirus outbreak and social distancing/quarantine/community precautions, it can be difficult to recognize our own internal chaos in the midst of actual external chaos. Especially as moms, we have to be “on”… we have to know the answers… we have to figure out schedules and meals and work and laundry and life doesn’t stop just because the world is shutting down around us.

In times of chaos, we don’t often get to stop to notice what’s going on internally.

But, it’s important that we do. It’s important that we attend to our internal world so we can best attend the ones around us. The ones that depend on us.

This list is not exhaustive, but it is a list of some common signs and symptoms of anxiety and it’s meant to get you intentional about tuning into yourself- your heart, your mind, and your body right now. If you notice any of these things in yourself, it’s time for a break, mama!

  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • sadness
  • anger
  • depression
  • tension in your body
  • tightness in your chest (feels like trouble taking a deep, full breath)
  • restlessness
  • trouble sleeping
  • obsessing about the news, constantly checking your phone or computer or tv
  • trouble concentrating
  • trouble eating
  • hyper-focusing on: food, body, weight, health, work, cleaning, organizing, your child’s schedule, etc.
  • feeling disconnected or “out of” your body

Before going into my baby’s room, I was intensely irritated by my three year old being- ya know, a three year old. Seriously, I was having one of those mom days where I was hyper-irritated by all the things. I even noticed that I felt that way towards the baby- like why won’t you sleep like you normally do, dude?!

It took the unintentional act of being stuck in a room with a sleeping baby and no iPhone to distract me to notice that my anxiety was ramping up… and up… and up.

Being Intentional in a Time of Chaos

Intentional has been a word that’s been prominent in my life the last few months… it’s a desire I have as I often feel internally and externally disorganized. Seriously… one of my biggest life goals right now is to do Walmart grocery pick up on the same day each week.

But more than that, I want to be intentional in focusing on my growing boys because I blinked and I have a three year old. And he’s just three. But three feels TOO OLD to me. It’s gone too quickly.

They say that the days are long, but the years are short. And is so true!!!

Even deeper than being intentional in my time with my little boys, I want to be intentional with my life. I want to live aligned with what I really value in life… in myself, my loved ones, and the world around me.

That takes being intentional. Not only does it take being intentional with my time and daily schedule and daily routines and self-care habits (hello adequate sleep!), but it takes being intentional with myself.

Intentionally tuning into the world swirling within me. The world of emotions, stories, and beliefs that guide my every move without me every really knowing it.

How do we practice being intentional in a time of chaos?

We settle down. We put down the phones. We go outside. We look at nature. We listen to music. We read good, nonfiction books. We stop planning all the Pinterest-worthy activities we can find. We let our kids be kids. We let the house be dirty. We take a break from cooking gourmet meals (okay, or cooking at all- hello frozen dinners!).

We stop hustling.

The best ways for me to stop hustling… even if it’s just internal hustling (obsessing about all the things I need to do)… are:

  • pray
  • write
  • listen to music and play with my kids and my husband
  • get out in nature

I learned what my value-aligned intentional practice looks like when I was on bedrest with my oldest son. I had the unintentional reminder of that practice and what I desperately needed when I was suddenly in a dark, quiet room with my youngest son.

Maybe you don’t know what your intentional practices look like right now. That’s okay. Use this as a time to figure it out. Start by putting down the phone, shutting down the computer and turning off the TV.

Your intentional practice of not hustling may look differently. It can look however it needs to look as long as your mama heart, mind, and body get the break it so desperately needs in this chaotic time.

Take care of yourself, mama.