AHA News: 5 ways to support, relieve and remember moms this Mother’s Day – Consumer Health News

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TUESDAY, May 3, 2022 (American Heart Association News) — Moms deserve a break.

It’s no news that parenthood is stressful, but health experts say the pandemic has made matters worse.

“Even under the best of circumstances, being a mother is really hard,” said Natalie Slopen, assistant professor in the department of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston. Parenthood also comes with joys, but over the past two years, “the pandemic has presented a host of challenges that most people never imagined they would encounter as parents.”

In 2019, before the pandemic began in March 2020, women reported doing more when it came to household chores and managing children’s schedules, according to a Pew Research Center survey. In October 2020, another Pew survey showed that mothers were more likely than fathers to report difficulties managing childcare. And in March 2021, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that more than half of mothers with school-aged children said stress and worry had affected their mental health.

The pandemic “has completely changed the fabric of our lives,” said Dr. Susan Cheng, professor of cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. It has been made clear that meeting the children’s needs and yours simultaneously is “simply very difficult”.

So this Mother’s Day, Cheng and Slopen came up with this advice to support moms, whether you’re a child, partner, neighbor, or mom yourself.

Recognize stress

Cheng, the mother of twins who are “6 out of 17”, said the stress had wide-ranging consequences.

“It impacts every aspect of our lives,” she said, affecting everything from how people eat to how family relationships develop.

Stress also affects people physically. “It strains the heart,” Cheng said. “It puts pressure on the blood vessels. It puts pressure on the whole cardiovascular system.”

Slopen, whose boys are 6 and 8, said the effects of the pandemic on children indirectly add to stress for mothers. “Parents’ well-being depends very much on the well-being of their children,” she said. “So it creates tremendous stress for parents to see their children not doing well.”

Much stress comes from sources beyond an individual’s control, Cheng said. A mother shouldn’t be expected to take care of it entirely on her own. But raising awareness can help people look for ways to lessen its effects.

Families can help

“A lot of what we do as mothers is action-oriented,” Cheng said. The classic image of a busy mom is of someone who is always doing something – “it’s go-go-go”.

Family members should look for ways to share the load, she said, especially as children get older. Cheng suggested creating a family game of looking for ways to help by asking everyone to “observe what this busy mom does day-to-day, hour-to-hour, over the course of a day.” , and note ways to improve things. .

Family members also need to support a mother’s personal time, Cheng said.

“Time alone can’t be stressed enough,” she said. But in busy households, an adult who wanders off for a while is often reprimanded. “I think it should actually be celebrated, protected, prioritized.”

Help yourself too

Slopen knows firsthand that it can be impossible to prioritize when your children have needs. But it is also necessary.

“We have to take care of our own physical and mental health,” she said. A struggling mom can’t be the best parent she can be. This means that taking care of yourself is not selfish, “it is essential for the well-being of your family members”.

So put some quiet time into your schedule, Cheng suggested. It should be passed without a screen – “just you and yourself in your mind and just in a quiet space”.

No one would say it’s easy. But for moms whose lives have been spent commuting with the kids, she suggested getting to your next appointment 15 minutes early. Use the time spent in the car to meditate, reflect or pray.

Honoring deceased mothers

Due to the pandemic, many children are being cared for by people who are not their parents, Cheng said, and it’s important to be sensitive to that.

As of February, more than 203,000 children in the United States had lost a parent or caregiver to COVID-19, according to the COVID Collaborative, a consortium of health, education and economic leaders. “If you see an adult with a child, you might not want to assume it’s mom or dad,” Cheng said.

Many adults will also experience their first Mother’s Day without a mother, Slopen said. “It’s really tough, regardless of age,” Slopen said. People may want to look for ways to recognize those who cannot celebrate with their own mothers and provide them with “companionship and companionship during this time.”

Everyone needs

Many challenges facing mothers go beyond what one person can do, Slopen said.

“For many people, the pandemic has made it clear that society doesn’t care about women or families, and people feel incredibly abandoned,” she said. To really help mums, “we need to reimagine a future where we have policies in place to protect the well-being of parents and children” – for example, paid time off so women can go to appointments. you medical or economic programs to keep their families out of poverty.

“Becoming knowledgeable and engaged in shaping policies that can improve the lives of parents and children is one way to show love and appreciation for women this Mother’s Day.”

American Heart Association News covers heart and brain health. Any opinions expressed in this story do not reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. If you have any questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org.

By Michael Merschel, American Heart Association News

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