I don’t do Six Feet Apart or Toxic very Well…Confessions of a Mom and Healthcare Worker

Mental Health, Motherhood

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Everything below this paragraph I wrote yesterday before I had any idea what was coming. Reading it again now, I realize how much God was preparing my heart for what was about to come. I know that I gave it my all. I know that I fought for my job in healthcare more than I’ve fought for anything else in my life. I went through a year of discovering my worth, and recently I started to realize that I don’t have to stay in a toxic environment. I don’t have to allow people to destroy me for something that I had no control over. I left a job I thought I would retire from, a job that I was proud of, and a job that honestly defined me for so long. Sometimes when something is so good for so long, it makes it that much harder to realize when it’s no longer serving you. I never thought I’d have the ability to say that I deserve better than this without a backup plan, but I know that I have to take care of my mind, and the stress from situations out of my control became way too much. I’ll write about exactly what happened later, but for now, here is what it’s really like to work in healthcare right now (especially as a mama).

I’m a mama who works night shift in a laboratory and I’m tired. I’ve worked at night, gone home to my kids, and stayed up all day for almost five years now. I can honestly say that I’ve never been this tired. I breastfed two babies while working nights. I was pregnant twice while working nights. With my last baby, I worked the night before while in labor and delivered my baby the next day. I still wasn’t nearly as exhausted as I am now. It’s not so much the job, as the current state of the world. I’m used to having most of the answers and being able to figure out the ones that I don’t have. When I went to school, I knew that I would be exposed to illness. I knew that I would experience times where I couldn’t fix it or figure it out. I remember having my hands prayed over before starting clinicals and thinking of all the wonderful things that my hands would be able to do. I felt empowered. I felt excited. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude and joy that I didn’t allow room for exhaustion. I learned equations, medical terms, the correct order of draw, and how to determine if an infection is viral or bacterial. I learned the reference ranges for lab values. I learned how to determine what gram positive cocci look like vs. gram negative bacilli. I learned how the coagulation system works and exactly how our blood circulates. I can tell you what tests to order to check for most ailments and if your potassium is really critical or if it’s contaminated. I can even tell you your blood type by testing for in manually. But I wasn’t prepared for six feet apart.

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I wasn’t prepared for the day that I couldn’t go see my grandparents without fearing judgement or possibly infecting them. I wasn’t prepared for the night I would leave my already traumatized daughter and have her ask me if I was going to die. I wasn’t prepared for the nights where I’d struggle to breathe behind a mask for almost nine hours and get on social media to read all the misinformation out there. I’m prepared to fight for you, and I’m prepared to be on the front lines. What I wasn’t prepared for was the hate and tension that surround us right now. You don’t really feel like a “healthcare hero” when your day to day consists of constant changes and you still don’t have the answers.

I’m tired of telling my children that we can’t walk in the store. I’m tired of my ears hurting and face breaking out because of a mask. I live in the South and I’m tired of not being able to walk up and give everyone a hug. I’m tired of letting my phone ring because I’m so mentally drained that I can’t handle a conversation. I’m tired of telling my daughters that we can’t go to the zoo, or the park, or find a filter for our pool because of this virus. It’s exhausting. It’s exhausting not knowing what to say. It’s exhausting reading the opinions people gather from empty numbers that they don’t understand. It’s exhausting having my educated opinion questioned for trying to provide a sense of hope. It’s exhausting not knowing what to do, so I get it. As a healthcare worker, I want you to know that you aren’t alone.

My five year old starts kindergarten this year,

and while I homeschooled my oldest by choice before, I wanted to send her. I wanted her to experience the first day of school. I wanted her to make new friends, go on field trips, and come home sweaty from recess. I wanted to take her back to school shopping and pack her little backpack for the first day. My oldest got to experience two years of “real school” as she calls it and I wanted Addalise to experience that too. I’m tired of feeling like I’m letting her down. I’m tired of being asked questions that I can’t answer. I don’t know when this will be over. I don’t know how to tell her to not be scared when everything around her is changing. I’m tired of not being able to control the spread at work, and coming home without a moment to gather my thoughts. The only answer that I have right now is that I don’t know. I’m trying my best to focus on setting up our homeschool room. I’m trying to stay strong for her, remain positive, and remain grounded in the belief that even though things may not be ideal, I can still create a magical learning experience for her this year. It’s okay to let yourself feel, but don’t stay in your negative thoughts for too long. Utilize the resources that are available to you, vent when you need to, and start your school day with a grateful heart and open mind.

I know that’s easier said than done, but trying to control the uncontrollable will solve nothing.

I don’t like not knowing. I don’t like not having concrete information. I don’t like being in a lose lose situation where I don’t even have a choice. I don’t like feeling like the entire world is giving up hope, but not being able to honestly say that I don’t feel the same way. I don’t like that people are losing their jobs. I don’t like that everyone is struggling in some way, and there is no way to appease everyone. I try to fix everything. I try to do what I can. Being on the front lines isn’t enough. How are we really supposed to feel like we are all in this together when no one really has a clue what’s going on? I don’t like how comfortable people have become behind a keyboard because they have nothing better to do. Don’t be bitter, get better. On your worst day, think of a positive memory or something that you can look forward to and get out of bed. Don’t assume the worst but hope for the best. Make it the best that you possibly can, and try harder the next day.

I don’t want to give you empty positivity because I get it. I have fears too. We all do. I fear for people’s mental health. I fear for the loss of connection. I fear for the seniors that didn’t get to experience a real celebration for all their hard work. I fear for the new marriages that are already facing so many challenges right at the beginning. I fear that something I say will make it worse for someone else. At the same time, I fear that as someone who is always positive, saying nothing at all is so much worse.

While I don’t have all the answers, I can tell you this.

There is beauty in every day. As a mama and a healthcare worker, I can tell you that we care. I can tell you that we take this job seriously and that I have dedicated my life to helping people in any way that I can. I can tell you that we feel it too…that everyone is frustrated. I can tell you that no matter how many times I have felt lost, I know that we will get through this. There are ways to stay connected. We can adjust to this new normal the best that we can. I can tell you that homeschooling really isn’t so bad after all and that I’ve used this time to connect more with the people at home. I can tell you that when things become a little sunnier, they will shine brighter than ever before. I can tell you that we have the opportunity to recognize how much we took for granted before and vow to not let that happen again.

I won’t feel stressed about planning a birthday party and I won’t worry as much about how messy my house can get with four kids. I will put real life connections with my friends and family above my own unrealistic image of how I should appear as a young mother. I will try to always remember the days where I had to use my imagination. I will continue to reinvent things and encourage my kids to experience life as much as possible. Because you never know what tomorrow may hold. I will show my teeth when I smile. I will visit family as often as I am able to. And I will give myself grace when life piles on beyond my control.

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I won’t take gatherings for granted. I will be grateful that I have the chance for closure at a funeral and the ability to celebrate the life of someone who meant so much to the people around them. I will tell my daughters that as much as I hated leaving them, I was doing what I had to do. I will never again take for granted the comfort I feel knowing enough to make sense of my own personal research. I won’t feel as though taking in four children is inconvenient.

Better days are ahead, my friend but until then I wanted to give a few tips to get through this. Know that you are not alone. Realize that your fears and concerns are completely justified and that we all feel a little anxious right now. While your concerns may not be the same as someone else’s, let’s try and support each other the best that we can. Let’s use this time to realize that we do need other people and find new ways to adapt together.

Occupy your mind. Take a breath, a walk, or a bath. Relax. When you have exhausted all efforts to find a solution, remove yourself from the situation for a moment. I’m not saying give up. Definitely don’t do that. But don’t overexert yourself so much at one time that you forget how to function. We charge our phones, reset our routers, and restart our computers. Don’t forget that almost anything will work again after some rest.

Use this as an opportunity to grow. Mindset is not something that you achieve overnight and it’s not something that you “get” and then quit working towards. Constantly set new goals for yourself, make lists, and ask for help when you need it. It’s okay to not have all the answers. Especially now.

Research the options available to you and make an informed decision. IF you have done that, then the rest is out of your control. You made the best decision available to you with the information that you had. And that’s enough. You can’t achieve the impossible and predict every outcome. You just can’t. None of us can.

Be honest with your children. Tell them the situation in words that they will understand, and end the conversation by asking them for questions or concerns that they have. You may be surprised to hear that sometimes they have a better understanding than we do. Their thoughts are not clouded by the same anxieties as ours. Spend time with them, and listen when they tell you that they are frustrated. Sometimes our children express their emotions differently than we do, but as parents we have to be present for them. Remember that you are tired too and let them know that it’s okay to feel these things. Try to be positive and end the conversation by constantly giving them something to look forward to. Maybe you can’t go to the beach right now, but you can give them a memory to focus on. Maybe they can’t visit their grandparents right now, but remind them how amazing it is to still be able to connect through technology. Show them photos of people working on the front lines and use this as a teaching opportunity.

Learn a new craft, watch a TV show that you loved over again, or take time to appreciate the things that you “didn’t have time for” before. Acknowledge the activities that we are still able to do.

As I was writing this, I remember thinking that I was scared to even say that I worked in a laboratory because I might get in trouble or lose my job. As healthcare workers we should never feel like we can’t say what we do as an occupation. The people who truly have a passion for what they do belong in this profession right now, and we need them there. Keep your head up. You got this. We all do.

If you found this helpful, feel free to follow along! I post homeschooling tips, mental health, parenting, fitness, etc. on my IG too ❤

-The Zombie Mom

instagram: @ashleeleighann

 

 

How to Make a Super Fun Summer Obstacle Course for Cheap!

DIY, Lifestyle, Mom Life, Motherhood

If this is your first time here, Welcome! I’m a mom of four girls who works night shift as a laboratory scientist. I homeschool my girls during the day, and I’m constantly trying to come up with new ideas to stay awake all day (while showing my girls the beauty in life). Corona has us all going a little crazy cooped up in the house, right? I planned to blow up the girls’ unicorn sprinkler and let them run around in the front yard, but it had a hole in it. It was way too hot to have a day outside without water so we improvised (which always does end up in the best day ever in my experience).

When we purchased our house, our realtor brought us over a moon bounce the next day!   There were five kids, infant to age 8 so to make this day fun for everyone would take a little work. Most of what I used were just items that we had in the garage. We had a smaller moon bounce/inflatable that served to keep the younger kids occupied while the older kids completed the course. The smaller inflatable was purchased second hand for super cheap.

While the moon bounce was a fun touch, it’s really not needed. This was the end of the course, and everything else leading up to it would have been enough. Here is what I used! Let’s get started!

Toys Used:

  • Two Peppa Pig Trikes (obviously don’t have to be peppa, but the trikes being small made it harder to peddle haha)
  • Hula Hoops
  • Kiddie Pool
  • Baseball and Bat
  • Pop up tent/tunnel
  • Bubbles
  • Water
  • DIY slip and slide (instructions provided)
  • Two Inflatables

Rundown of the Obstacle Course: First, the girls each had to peddle on the tiny trikes to the hula hoops. Once they picked up the hula hoops, they had to hula to the pineapple float (these fun floats were purchased from Target for about $3, I had a Flamingo also). Next, they had to slide down the slip and slide, crawl through the tunnel (pop up tent) and run to the kiddie pool. Once in the kiddie pool, they threw a ball in the air and hit it with the baseball bat. The final task was to run to the moon bounce, and climb to the top of the “wall” in the middle.

Tip: I added water, soap, and bubbles inside of the moon bounce so that it made it harder to get to the top at the end!

 

How I made the slip and slide: You can made this with any thick plastic. I used an old inflatable ball pit that had a hole. I cut it, spread it out, and we put two plastic stakes to hold the plastic in place. You can obviously make this bigger, but since it was just part of the obstacle course, it was the perfect size. You could use old pool floats and if you don’t have anything laying around, a hardware store sells rolls of thick plastic. Another tip to make it extra slippery would be to add dish soap.

Mom Tip: I like to make everything a “game” or “challenge” to keep my oldest interested. It didn’t really matter who finished the obstacle course first, but giving her tasks to complete is also a learning experience. Having ADHD myself, I know how engaging challenges can be and how I can let time slip away from me quickly without even realizing it. Escape Rooms and Obstacle Courses are along the same lines as video games and I have found this extremely effective when learning new topics.

Let me know if you found this helpful! Feel free to follow along for more DIY, life hacks, mom life, mental health, fitness tips and everything in between. 

-The Zombie Mom

 

 

 

The Real Reason Why Your Mom Friend is NEVER on Time or just doesn’t Show Up at All

Motherhood

I made this little clip to show what life if like trying to leave the house being a mom of four.

I’m really not trying to be a bad friend, sister, daughter, whatever…but I’m just exhausted. By the time I actually even make it to the car I forget where I’m going and it takes half a day to even make it there. Maybe it’s my ADHD, but I swear it’s the kids. I love these little monsters, but goodness, gracious…we’re just going to stay home…

We can’t find shoes, the TV remote, the dog escapes, the toddler hid the baby in the pantry…I mean I’m drained just chasing them around. And if we actually do make it there…This better be the best dang chicken you’ve ever had in your life!

Do you ever actually make it somewhere and then your kids just complain the whole time? I make some big plans at 2am while I’m at work thinking that I’m so blessed to get to spend all day with my babies. They are the sweetest little blessings, but if we make it to the playground and they don’t swing their little legs off, I might lose my mind (even more so than I already have).

I usually have advice for most mom situations considering I have four kids, but all I can tell you is that you have to pick your battles. If you make it out of the house with your four year old in 12 month pants and mismatched shoes, that’s still a win. If your baby is covered in cheese puffs, I can guarantee it won’t be the first or the last time. And if you’re one of those moms that has it all together and your children walk out of the house with Prada bags, and your baby’s diaper is made of the finest silver you can find…I salute you. But I still got my chicken either way so there’s that.