By Chris Jones

chairs on the front porch

“Why do you think you should be used to this by now? We’re all beginners at this. This is a once in a lifetime experience. It’s expecting a lot to think we’d be managing this really well.” – Ann Masten, PhD, psychologist and professor of child development at the University of Minnesota.

If you think you should be doing well right now, you have permission to lower your expectations even further. COVID-19 has been a once-in-a-lifetime event with no clear ending in sight. So, if you’ve flirted with the end of your wits, you’re in good company regardless of what people on Facebook post (this is no one’s “best life”).

And on that note, let’s have a heart to heart this month.

We’re six months into a pandemic. While there is no good time for a pandemic to strike, the COVID19 event hit us at a time when we could build up resiliency—during spring and summer. Our kids could go outdoors to run, to play and to ride bikes and toss balls, giving us enough of a break between preparing meals, filling requests and refereeing sibling arguments to catch our breath. But now we stare down the dark tunnel of six months of fall and winter. It’s time to consider using those lifelines and phone-a-friends we’ve been holding in our hands.

Historically, in non-pandemic situations, fall introduces funky mental health for most people, which includes seasonal depression. As the days get shorter, our moods can dip along with the temperatures. Many of us have felt the tug of a short leash for the better part of six month. That in mind, if you’ve never dealt with seasonal depression, this could be your year. When you add a protracted virus prevention plan with working from home, virtually schooling children and making time for yourself and your spouse, you could find yourselves in a mental health crisis.

So please…be gentle with yourself.

This fall be mindful of how you feel. Work together with your spouse to take care of yourself, your marriage and your kids. You can’t do it all.  As Clint Eastwood famously quipped in Magnum Force, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” (a woman, too!) Know how much you can bear and seek help for what you cannot.

We will endure. One day at a time.