We’ve all heard it. We know the quote. It peps us up on tough days. It reminds us to look at the positive and turn the challenges into triumphs.
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
Well, what if you just can’t make lemonade? What if you really want to make the lemonade but it just is not working for you? It’s no secret that 2020 has been hard around the world. People are hurting and sick. They’ve lost a lot. They’ve missed a lot. They’re lonely. People are scared. Mental health issues are on the rise. The news doesn’t go a day without reporting new violence somewhere.
Within individual homes, families face uncertainty about income. They face uncertainty about childcare and school. They face isolation and anxiety.
It is a year we will all remember.
It was a year in my home too. I had a baby this year. I tried my best to homeschool for part of this year…sort of. And we faced other challenges in the midst of 2020 that I never saw coming. The truth is that I didn’t feel much like a “lemons into lemonade” sort of gal for a lot of this year (except when those baby snuggles and coos were fast and furious), but I absolutely learned a few things that helped me deal with uncertainty.
When you don’t know what to do, pause and don’t do anything at all.
Time is an elixir. I have found that I tend to act more quickly than needed in most situations. With the exception of a physical emergency, there are few situations that require an absolute, immediate decision and action. Signs, opportunities, and paths all present themselves in time. Sleep on it. Wait on it. You never know what ideas will come up or what dots will connect for you if you just wait another minute before acting.
Ask yourself “Who do I want to be through this?”
Sometimes it’s difficult to outline the specific things you will do in a situation you have never been in before. You don’t know what is going to happen. You don’t have control. You don’t know if school will stay open. You don’t know if you will homeschool for 1 week or 3 months. You don’t know if you will still be working from home next month.
Shift the focus to who you want to be over what you will do. Think about how you want to respond to challenges. Come up with a few keywords so that you can draw on them no matter what the uncertainty brings. Examples might be grace, compassion, and patient. Will you respond this way every time? Nope. I don’t feel too graceful and patient trying to get my kids into the car every morning. Even so, the qualities you focus on will shine through more often than not over the long term.
Lower Your Expectations
Know your non-negotiable self-care tasks. Get those to the top of the “to do” list as much as possible. Then ask yourself what really needs to be done today. I’m a big fan of a top 3 priorities kind of list for the day. Tackle the hardest one first because it helps me avoid procrastinating my way out of it. Then, lower expectations around anything else. If I get other things done besides the “top 3” then awesome. If not, then awesome too. And yes there will still be days when even the “top 3” don’t get checked off because tiny humans need a lot of attention…and that’s ok too.
Get Over the Fear of Asking for and Accepting Help
Ooohhh…this is a big one for me. I truly enjoy and feel grateful when friends ask me for help. I struggle with the reverse though. Why is that? Why as mothers do so many of us feel sincere joy to help another mother but feel like we are too needy or imposing if we need to ask for help?
I’ve learned the most incredible phrase this year: thank you. I’ve caught myself starting a response to an offer for help with all the reasons I don’t want to put the kind friend out by accepting. Then, I realized that I could just say thank you and accept the help…or even take a step further and contact the friend who said to call if I needed anything and ask for the help. We’re all human. None of us can do this alone. Ask for the help. Give the help. The world is better for everyone with help.
Trust Your Gut
Call it what you like: your intuition, your gut, your sixth sense. It’s there for a reason. Listen to it. You often know what’s best for you, your children, and your family. There’s just so much noise out there right now that it’s hard to decipher and really listen. 2020 feels like we’ve had choices of hard or harder at times. Trust your gut. Don’t let anyone make you question your gut. You got this.
As we roll closer to 2021, I know that 2020, although one tough year, gave me a lot for which to be grateful. A beautiful baby boy joined our clan, my family is healthy, warm, and fed and we have some amazing people in our lives. So I didn’t make lemonade out of the lemons all the time but I did my best and that’s all I can ask for. Have a great start to 2021!