We are struggling.
The shock of the news. The change in our daily lives. The lost of our jobs, employees, schools, seasonal sports and weekend activities has rocked tge entire planet.
This is major.
The only thing that keeps replaying in my head is that there are billions, BILLIONS, of people affected today by COVID-19 and not one country, nation, tribe, neighborhood or home is living their “normal daily routine”. Planes are down. Buses have stopped. Well traveled parts of the world are not receiving fresh footprints and those in the tourism sector are struggling to make ends meet considering we’re encouraged to stay home. People are spending their money on stocking up the pantry and not living lavishly on concerts, sport games, tourism, home remodel, family vacation, investments, getting ahead, starting something new or are simply just holding on to the cash they have in hand for dear life.
The change seemed to happen over night. We knew it was coming. We saw parts of Asia, then Europe, then California purchasing toilet paper then shutting cities down and we just hoped it wouldn’t get this bad. We just held on tight. Watching. Waiting. Praying.
Then it hit.
Within two days schools were sent home.
March 16th, New York closed gyms in the morning and my gym in Ohio closed by nightfall. Along with bars, restaurant, movie theaters, parks..
First were out of toilet paper. Then chicken. Now bread.
Were told to stay home.
Everything changed so quickly, so suddenly, we didn’t know how to prepare. Or if we were able to prepare. We just knew we had to do something. But what?
Figure out what to fill our free time with, now that every after school activity is over. Figure out how to teach 4th grade math. Figure out how to have a baby sitter and still work three jobs. Figure out how to pay next months mortgage while keeping food in the pantry because stocking up is not an option. Figure out who to see without getting infected. Figure out how to keep afloat through all of this when the list of insecurities is so lengthy that were just going with the current as it changes without realizing if were still in the boat, or in the waters without our life vest.
Luckily for you- I am a stay at home mom that had to learn many different coping skills while transiting from being a independent, 30something, hard working boss babe to being 100% depended on mother and house wife. As one of my other SAHM friends just said, “Quarantine in our life.” (Thanks, D!) So I would like to share with you some insight, tools and, hopefully, offer some relief of the unnecessary expectations that have been thrown upon us all.
1. Take one thing at a time. This is a rule I live by. If you were to walk into an overly cluttered room and were told to organized it, the best approach would be to sort through one item at a time and move it to a location with like items. Right now, I know school papers are thrown everywhere, kids are missing their friends, parents are working extra, or joblessly drowning in bills, and it’s very overwhelming. Take one task at hand at a time. Make a list of priorities in the morning and try to make it around 6 items (a number I was wisely given 12 years ago, trust me, its sufficient in a room with 100 items- you’ll get to them all) and mark them off one by one as they are accomplished. You won’t feel overwhelmed with such a low number (6) and you’ll be able to focus on those things as you’re doing them while gaining some security back and feeling like you have somethings under control. Try it for 3 days as a trial run and if it doesn’t work, tell me I suck at giving advice and I’ll try to help you find another game plan.
2. Become active daily. This is important! If you have kids, play something with them. If you don’t have a backyard or large living room, see who can jump in place longer than the other. If you have space, USE IT! Everyone who doesn’t have space is jealous of you so use it for the sake of having it! Play outside games; soccer, race, basketball, whatever you’d like. If you are missing the gym, google search at home indoor (outdoor) workouts. You can specifically search “At home workout with no weights and little space” and see what shows up. You can also see my personal Facebook and Instagram for workouts I have very unprofessionally recorded with a time lapse setting in my “middle of remodeling” home and backyard. If you are able to do so in your location take your family on a walk, jog or bike ride. Twenty minutes of exercise daily will change the way you feel mentally and physically while being quarantine.
3. Ditch the sweat pants. Yes, they are cozy, comforting and the chances of seeing someone are slim but when you wake up in the morning and get dressed for the day, you feel ready for the day. This will be different to those still working AND I pass no judgment if you ARE wearing sweats and pajamas all day, every day. It may be your chance to take a break from your wardrobe, for all I know. So this may not apply to everyone but if you feel you are in a funk, and you’re down about this “temporary normal”, put on some jeans, or a dress, fix your hair and apply makeup (if makeup is your thing), snap a selfie, #hashtag #ditchthesweatpantstip and upload it to Facebook or Instagram so I can give you a shout out then facetime one of your loved ones that you desperately want to hug and say ‘hello’ to them. Nothing is worse than having bed head and looking like hell and your bff from Germany calls and wonders why you look like your in a mental institute.
4. Do something for yourself daily. A girl I know asked on social media if it was okay to take a break from her family when they’re all locked in the house together.. OF COURSE, CHICA! It is necessary to still do something you would like to do, for yourself, by yourself, everyday. Right now, we’re shoulder to shoulder with those that mean the world to us, BUT NO ONE should feel guilty for wanting to lock themselves in a different room for an hour to escape a little bit. Read a book, put a puzzle together, call a friend, watch your favorite TV show that no one else likes to watch with you, take a nap, do whatever you need to do to not go insane. If you remain sane, the rest of your family might not drive you as nut because they will follow your lead. Make a designated time to do that every day to maintain a healthy balance of your own time along with the time you need for kids school work, meals, time with spouse and the 30 projects you hope to do during this season.
5. Take a break. As similar as this sounds to the previous “Do something for yourself daily” this is very different. There has been much unwanted pressure on us that we don’t even realize. When you feel overwhelmed, take a break. Sit outside and clear your head. Walk away from the closet that you have organized four times and sit. Ask your family to give you some space and rest. The guideline my grandmother gave me a few years ago was to HALT. Halt (take a break) when ever you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. This has saved my life. I used it many times in my recovery from alcohol and tens times more as a new mother. I have even interrupted my husband and said, “You know, I’m really tired right now and I’m not following along with what you’re saying, so I think we need to talk about this later after I have something to eat and maybe take a nap.” LONELINESS: Do not feel guilty if you feel lonely right now while you’re staying home with your immediate family. Most people are grieving because we can’t see our BFF, siblings, grandparents, coworkers, niece and nephews, parents, some people can’t see their kids! It’s okay to feel lonely, just know you HAVE to do something about it. My favorite thing is Facetime and it has helped me while I have traveled around the world to stay connected with my friends and family and still see their shining smiles.
6. Try something new. Have you gotten bored yet? Now is a great time to dig into that project you’ve always wanted to start or try the hobby that has always caught your attention. Usually, we have these thoughts in our heads: I wish I had the time to learn how to make macaroons. I wish I knew how to speak Portuguese. I’ve been wanting to make the baby quilt for 18 years now but I’ll get to it one day. GO FOR IT! Come up with a plan and go for it. Whether you cook a new meal as a family or make time alone to start a long waiting hobby just go for it. The fulfillment gained will allow the pain of this quarantine to lighten a little and it will offer a feeling of accomplishment to settle while we’re feeling very restricted during this time. Get creative and try to not get bored. The season we’re in does not have to be a time that’s wasted. It can be a season of personal growth, family development and creative passions coming to life while we’re waiting for the world to start turning again.
7. Hygiene! It’s very easy to lose healthy hygiene while staying at home. Not going out with friends, not going to work, not seeing the store clerk or going to business meetings allows humans to become laxed when it comes to personal hygiene. It doesn’t help that beauty salons and barber shops are unavailable at this time either! Who wants to wash, dry and curl their hair when roots are growing out, color is fading, eyebrows are turning into angry catapillers and clean cut lines are getting fuzzy?! However, it is important to maintain healthy hygiene during this time. Shower every day (even if you sat on the couch binging your favorite TV show), brush your teeth in the morning and at night, clean your ears, wash your bedding, and of course, WASH YOUR HANDS!
8. Reach out. If you are struggling in any way getting through this pandemic, make sure you are reaching out to someone about it. There are many emotional insecurities rising up and the best thing you can do about it is to maintain healthy mental health by making a phone call. For those who have counselors and therapist, make a phone call meeting or Zoom chat set up during this time and try to make appointments as consistent as if you were still going into their office. If you just need to talk to a friend, make a call. If you’re finding your drinking alcohol to cope and it’s getting out of hand, share that with a spouse, roommate or loved one THEN limit the amount of alcohol in your house for a period of time (hide it or give it away, don’t just drink it all to get rid of it! That’s the opposite of my advice!). If you are on the edge of a relapse with drugs or alcohol, call your sponsor and make sure you are taking proper steps to prevent relapse. EVERYONE, it is important to reach out if you are struggling AND don’t forget to reach out to your loved ones that you know are struggling.
Relapse Website: https://www.rehabhotline.com/about-rehab/relapse-prevention/
Relapse Hotline: (888) 594-8501
9. This too, shall pass. My sponsor through the Alcohol Anonymous program always tells me to remember ‘This too, shall pass’. When there seems to be no ending in sight, when we don’t know what the government will throw at us next, when our kids and spouse are driving us crazy and all we want is an hour of peace and quiet, remind yourself of this saying. The pandemic, the quarantine, the uncertainty, the endless hours and days spent worrying, it will pass. We will be able to return to a life where we’re always too busy to do the things we want to do, constantly going from one sport game to the next, spending the weekend and holidays with family and friends and getting back to the hustle and bustle of work. This is not a forever situation. This is a temporary season we’re in and it will pass.
10. Give yourself grace. As a new mother, and a new stay at home mom, I had to learn that I needed to give myself grace in moments when I felt the obligation to make sure everything was perfect and right. No one had placed this expectation on me and I have no explanation on why it was self induced. It was just there. So when you feel overwhelmed, conflicted and scared and you feel like every day you’re failing at being a great parent, good math teacher, creative grocery shopper and the best baker your family has ever experience, just take a step back and remember that life is a complete, unexpected disaster right now. No one is doing ANYTHING perfect. Things are a MESS. Allow yourself to give YOURSELF grace to carry on. You don’t need to be perfect, you need to be happy, eat well and sleep a sufficiently. Daily routines will change and not seem so overwhelming and unmanageable when you give yourself the grace you need to get through it.
We’re all in this together. Undoubtedly, we’re all in this together. When we get through this our community that depends on one another so desperately needs to have a healthy population so we can come together and rebuild.
Hold fast. Be brave. Take care of yourself. Have compassion. Share wisdom. Be kind. Give encouragement. We need each other in our isolation more now than ever. You don’t need to hold on for dear life, you just need to change with the tide. The storm will settle, the seas will calm and the chaos will pass. Trust in it.