Studies like the 2021 State of Motherhood review from Motherly are reporting that within a span of 24 hours, nearly two-thirds of working mothers surveyed say they get less than one hour to themselves outside of work and duties related to their home life. This is a major issue for Black mothers. Per the survey, since 2020, Black moms especially have felt burned out by motherhood. They are more likely than any other ethnicity to say that the weight of being the primary caregiver and not getting a break is the cause.
The outlook for all working parents is worse than what it was last year, and Black mothers are feeling particularly stressed right now. They’re more likely than any other ethnicity to get less than four hours of sleep and not be sexually active. In addition, they’re more likely to be concerned about their finances, and with good reason. Despite the fact that their employment rate has increased since last year, this year’s rate is still lower than that of white moms.
Black moms are also stretched thin from all the extra caregiving they’ve done during the pandemic. They’re more likely than any other ethnicity to be hands-on parents, or very involved in directing their children. More than likely, these women are paying close attention to their children to not only protect them from harm and disappointment but also to help them excel. The end result is a sense of overwhelm and exhaustion that can be difficult to shake.
Still, some Black moms aren’t giving up on the quest to recharge. As a result, according to those surveyed, they’re finding relief in five different ways.
When Black moms do find the time to destress, their primary method is mindfulness, meditation, or prayer. According to the Motherly survey, Black moms are also more likely than any other ethnicity to say they started therapy or counseling during the pandemic.
When women have underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, diabetes, or cancer, they are at higher risk of developing a severe illness like COVID-19. Black moms are more likely than any other ethnicity to say they are concerned about their health right now.
Texas mother of two Tayo Oredola says fitness has kept her sane. “Before the pandemic started, I was not very active because being hypothyroid, I had zero energy left after all my daily responsibilities,” she tells ESSENCE. “But during the pandemic, I turned to fitness to stop myself from going stir crazy. I set up a punching bag in my garage, which is an amazingly therapeutic activity by itself. I also started going for long morning walks. I’d feel my stress and anxiety completely melt away.”
Though not a large percentage of those surveyed, Black moms were still more likely than any other ethnicity to start using cannabinoid (CBD) during the pandemic. CBD has a lot of known benefits such as treating sleep disorders, regulating hormones, and alleviating migraines, stress, nausea, anxiety, and menstrual symptoms. Actress and cannabis entrepreneur Mercedes C. Young describes how CBD can truly be vital for Black moms during these stressful times of uncertainty by saying, “CBD can save her days by promoting feelings of calm, clarity, and focus.”
Finding Mom Tribes
In early anthropology, tribes were founded on traditions of common descent, such as language. Fast forward to the present day and tribes are still founded on communication. All mothers parenting during the pandemic could use a little emotional support to help cope, specifically encouragement and empathy. Online moms’ groups, such as Facebook groups, are how Black moms are finding members of their tribes.
Exhaustion can make it hard for mothers to hold on to themselves and their boundaries even though they know it’s in their children’s best interest. Kids love this, as they know exhaustion often makes moms give in. However, fewer Black moms are helicopter parenting, and more are communicating expectations and setting boundaries with their children. In all likelihood, multitasking during the pandemic highlighted the habit some Black moms have to over-function for their children. Boundaries teach children that they’re free to make their own choices, but they should also understand the importance of accountability as they make them.
As Black women, coming to terms with being wiped out is one thing, but accepting it’s impossible to find ways to hold on and care for yourself is another. Throughout all the methods mentioned, there is a recurring theme: resiliency. Even amid a global tragedy, Black mothers refuse to give up, especially on themselves. Coping skills increase resiliency and during this time of uncertainty, resiliency is our only mental defense. So find a way to recharge. Don’t give up hope and don’t succumb to the stress. Whatever method a mom is choosing to build up her strength in a time where many are mentally, emotionally and physically drained, is their business. But in sharing coping methods with other moms, everyone ends up learning practical techniques and gaining confidence from seeing each other succeed at self-care.