I’ve seen a lot of articles shared on social media lately, exploring ways people are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. Sometimes they focus on being productive, other times they focus on self-care… there are endless angles to take and endless issues/situations to account for during this unique time in our collective history.
So many lives have been undeniably affected over the last couple weeks and months, not to mention the serious financial and emotional implications from health or economic influences that Coronavirus has had on families and communities around the world. Work and childcare have been flipped upside down in many cases. And we’re only now partially into the pandemic, here in early May 2020. What will it be like a week, a month, or six months from now? No one knows.
For me, when all the restrictions on gatherings and movement started coming into place a month to 6 weeks ago, I was simply trying to figure out the practicalities of what I was going to do instead. There was no more soccer, no more playdates, no opportunities to go to a movie with friends, no date nights to our favourite restaurant… the list seemed to go on and on. In many instances, activities were either cancelled or moved online. Meetings took place over Zoom. And instead of sipping hot drinks at a cafe, I connected with friends via Facebook Messenger or FaceTime. It wasn’t the same, but it was at least something.
Now that we are a bit further into the quarantine, issues other than figuring out how to “replace what we lost” have come to the surface. I’ve begun to reflect more and ask myself the deeper questions. How have I been handling this? What would I like to do differently, now that I’ve had some time to deal with the changes? What am I learning about myself, my family, and my true priorities? How can I try to slowly move from survival mode to feeling like I’m thriving once again?
It’s okay to be in survival mode, of course. I don’t want anyone to think I’m putting pressure on myself (or others) to do more than should be expected. But I also don’t want to wallow in my misery and really brainstorm ways to cope better in this new reality. I know it’s not for certain, but I don’t expect things to just “go back to normal” in a few weeks or months from now. I’m of the opinion that it might take quite a while for business to return to what it was before and, even when we come out of this pandemic phase, the world might look a bit different.
We all have unique situations right now which makes me almost hesitant to even contribute to the dialogue of “advice for parents.” However even though none of the articles I personally read necessarily fit my life circumstances in every aspect, I did find some useful tips in each one… so I figured I may as well share what is helping me right now in case it helps anyone else. Please know that I don’t think all of this may be useful to any one person as all of us have very different lives and, in fact, come from different places with different rules because we are in different stages of this thing. But maybe something in this article will help you and, if that happens, then my effort to write this is worth it.
As a parent, a friend, a sister, and a daughter, the struggles I’m hearing in the recent days are more about the mental strain that people are now recognising they are experiencing. The change of routine not only in ability to leave the home and see people face-to-face, but the huge change in living life at home with all family members there for most of the day. The living in close quarters, the newness of activities/school at home, the disconnection with those outside the family, the pressure of working from home, the extra hours online, the anxiety about how long this will last…
A few weeks ago I started making short lists of things to help myself focus on ways I could support myself, such as YouTube channels that were inspiring me or healthy snacks I was finding comforting. This idea led into creating the following resource, which is a worksheet with 100 ways you can list to support your own self during lockdown.
I’ve been enjoying filling it out – usually one section a day – and hope you will, too.
Being with the kids all day every day is tough. It takes a lot of self-regulation, patience, and selflessness. When I’m feeling extra tense, I have found that having this list has been helpful just to give me some practical ideas of ways to cope.
I guess once we get to a place where we can actually sit down and think about what this change has offered us, we may find ourselves questioning our choices, either past or present. It’s not an easy place to be! And it’s not easy to be adjusting both mentally and practically to a new lifestyle when you’re caring for kids 24/7, either.
This time of quarantine/lockdown/isolation is hard, and unknown, and all of our regular “coping mechanisms” may not be available anymore. I think we should all be gentle with ourselves as we go through the growing pains of a new experience and a new reality.
I hope you take care of yourself and find ways to support yourself during this time.
With all my love,
Official guidance about how to look after yourself during a crisis (prepared by the Queensland Government) can be found in this article.