“I’m part of a texting chain with other moms in my town who are really upset by how the school has handled COVID and deciding to close and go all virtual. There’s also a Facebook group and everyone keeps posting really negative things, plus the texts are non-stop. I’m not saying I don’t agree with them fully, but the text chain and group have just become overwhelming. Is there a way to respectfully remove myself from both without causing drama or sounding upset? I’m also kinda worried I’ll be completely out of the loop if I hit the unfollow button. Help!” — Carolyn, 36, Texas
Lauren Smith Brody:
Oof. I feel this, Carolyn. We have all been living in a state of high-alert for almost a year now, and I relate to that feeling of “needing to know all of the details of the developments of the things that can affect my children immediately and without delay.” It actually reminds me a lot of the hyper-vigilance I felt when my oldest son was born and I had postpartum anxiety. I learned, years later, that the intrusive, scary, and obsessive worries that many moms experience are actually not a sign of weakness but of strength: Our brains, by imagining the worst, are priming themselves to be protective of our beloved children. But sometimes we get too primed! Right now, the best thing we can do to protect our kids is to keep mama feeling less stressed!
So, for sanity’s sake (and your kids’ wellbeing) I definitely recommend opting out of the text and Facebook deluge. Some strategies:
- Mute, but don’t leave, the group text: That way you’re not offending anyone, and you won’t have that feeling of being in a black hole and can jump back in as needed. On an iPhone, you can mute the group text by clicking into “info” and then turning on “hide alerts.” And on an Android, you click on the three vertical dots and then tap the bell.
- On Facebook, turn off (or limit) notifications: And instead, just check the group’s page every other day (or whatever cadence feels right). Go to Groups, hit the gear wheel and click “customize notifications.”
- Use the buddy system: If you have one or two closer friends within the group text or chat, you can ask them to give you a heads up when something important is announced or discussed. Better yet, take turns, switching off weeks. (By the way, this is the strategy I recommend if you’re a member of too many employee resource groups at work, too.)
- Connect more directly: Part of the appeal of the texting and FB groups is that we are lonely right now. We are missing both big friend outings and all of the little hellos we used to have—even with strangers—at the coffee shop or the playground. It takes some scheduling, but try to give yourself at least one phone call with a friend every day. I like to schedule mine while walking. Whatever spontaneity is lost is more than made up for by the double mood boost of being outside and feeling a friend’s love.
Lauren Smith Brody is the founder of The Fifth Trimester movement and consulting. Her book, The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, and Success After Baby (Doubleday/Anchor), was a simultaneous best-seller in the Amazon categories of motherhood, women and business, and cultural anthropology.
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