Well, here we are again – another lockdown. From the first Level 4 lockdown that began on 25th March 2020, we have spent over 100 days cooped up in our homes, restricted.
For me, above all, this time around has been the most challenging, both professionally and personally. And rationally, it ‘shouldn’t’ be, right? I have got through it before; I can get through it again. But sometimes things aren’t as they ‘should’ be. I don’t exactly know why this time has been more difficult, but I do know that I have had to dig deep and find strategies to keep me on an even keel.
Here are some of the things I have learned over the last 18 months or so:
It is okay not to be okay
This is something that a very dear friend of mine has said for years – but I have only given it lip service. I am a perfectionist, and I struggle with this idea of not being okay and of not doing it all perfectly. But I am only human, a person who can only do her best and if it isn’t a good day, that is okay. If the work isn’t all done, the kids aren’t homeschooled, the house is a mess and dinner is thrown together – it is okay. Sit with the feelings and remember that tomorrow is a new day – which brings me to point two…
Every day is a new day
Pretty basic right? But think about it. Every day you have the chance to do better than the day before, and there are a lot of days, which means a lot of second chances. In fact, you can re-start your day at any time and vow to do better, be calmer, not yell at the kids, improve your time management, have a nap, eat right, or whatever it is – it’s never too late, you haven’t failed.
Decrease your expectations and increase your serenity
If you lower your expectations of yourself and others you will increase your serenity. Does this mean we accept bad treatment or behaviour from people? No. It means that we accept that we cannot control people, places, things, and situations – only our reactions to them. We are powerless over everything except ourselves. This is a hard one for me – something I must actively work on every day – some days I do better than others.
Kids are resilient and adaptable
Imagine going to school one day and then not seeing your friends for weeks? It must have been scary for the kids of 2020. My children (now ten and seven), struggled at first but soon adapted. We tried to keep routine and do schoolwork (but a schoolteacher I am not! – as I mention below). However, we tried. And some days we didn’t. Some days we just threw our hands in the air, watched movies, and went for adventurous walks. The struggle of lockdown was real for me, but I was very aware (and still am) of the need to make this situation calm and not frightening for my kids. I want them to look back at this when they are grown and think “gosh that was a lot of fun” – then I would have done my job.
I am a shit teacher
Homeschooling has been one of the hardest things I have had to do. I am lucky that my children are young and not sitting NCEA and my poor attempt at teaching will not impact their education and future prospects too much. But wow – I respect all the teachers out there – it takes SO much tolerance and patience – not things I possess in abundance.
If I break my leg the doctor would say rest – even if I was feeling mentally drained, I would push through. But resting is healing. There is a common misconception that self-care means being self-indulgent or selfish – this is untrue. And most of our concepts of ‘self-care’ consist of luxury ideas which soon become overwhelming, and consequently, more of a chore. Self-care means taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy physically and mentally. There are many different forms of self-care, it could be stepping outside for fresh air, prioritising adequate sleep, or doing things to fuel your mind like reading a book or completing a puzzle, or practicing gratitude, self-compassion, and acceptance.
Getting out and about is important
Probably an obvious statement but I have really appreciated the importance of fresh air and exercise, probably my most effective approach to physical and mental self-care (not to mention, effective in burning off all the Tim Tams and banana bread I’ve been scoffing!). We all get to move our bodies, the puppy gets tired, the kids lose some energy, and I get away from the laptop for a while – win win!
I don’t know what will happen in the future and when this pandemic will end, however, I do know that it’s important we stay safe, look after ourselves and our families, embrace the spare time and try to have a bit of fun!