For Mummas, lockdown means more even more multi-tasking than usual; with baby, work and for some older kids to school, not to mention the presence of another adult in the house. Added to that we have the absence of our regular social supports and outlets. Instead of just being a teacher/physio/nurse/whatever-your-out-of-home-work-job-might-be, and then coming home to do your other job, as child educator, domestic organizer, chef, meal planner, social secretary, carer of elderly parents etc. you are now doing them all at once, and much more. As well as you mind and emotions adjusting to the stress and uncertainty of a global pandemic. That is one heck of a multi-tasking load!!
Our Mum’s Toolbox team want to support you through the challenges of this season! So we asked our Toolbox Nana – counsellor, parent educator and self care expert – Mary, to share some of her secrets to coping in a stressful time. And her first big tips were:
Lower your expectations. Decide what can be eliminated. This is not the time for new challenges. Life is challenging enough. It’s the time for self-care, making life easier, prioritizing doing things to restore and nurture.
Use spare time to restore – rather than trying to achieve something.
She says; “not only are things out of normal, but you have more to do, what you do has to be done differently, and you are surrounded by uncertainly. Things change every day, with restrictions and border closures. The first thing we need to do is recognize the stress we are under, as an individual, a family, a community, a nation, a planet. Life has changed and we don’t know when and how it will be normal again.”
So here is a few tips and tricks that Nana Mary suggests to help you practically through a lockdown:
Make a list of what you need to do each day and prioritize. Some things must go to make way for self-care. We have to establish realistic expectations of ourselves.
2. Extra demands and support systems
Make a list of your extra demands, and another of things that normally support you. Find ways to replace your usual supports and outlets. This list of extra responsibilities makes you aware of what’s on your plate. Making the list of supports and outlets makes you mindful of what you need to do to support yourself in the absence of usual activities. Our natural tendency in times of stress is to do more. What we need is to do less and turn spare time into time to restore.
3. Plan breaks
Have planned breaks during your day. Every hour, stop and breathe deeply, gently. Every second hour get up and move around, preferable go outside. Have a drink. Drink it mindfully, give it your full attention, using all your sense; taste, smell, texture.
Not only are you looking after yourself you are providing a great model to help your kids keep up their energy and focus on healthy ways.
Plan to do things that give you joy through your day. Dance and playwith your kids.
5. Outside time
Get outside whenever you can. Walk mindfully, aware of all your senses, the sights, sounds smells around you. Feel The wind and the sun and breathe deeply.
Give the kids a task such as finding three specific things in the garden, or something blue, something, red and something yellow.
6. Special moments
Have regular morning or afternoon teas with everyone in the household; getting out the best cups mugs and plates. This gives you all the social connection you usually get from workmates or school mates. As part of your end of the working day ritual, find out something that each person would like to celebrate from their day.
7. Beware the quick pick-me-up
When we feel stressed, or down we look for something sweet to pick is up. We get an initial charge, but we aren’t recharged. Have a collection of healthy snacks.
Instead of reaching for the coffee or sugar, sit and breath. Allow your body to restore, rather than push it with the help of a sugar or caffeine surge. Listen to tiredness and energy lag and replenish it with breaks and good food. Alcohol, coffee, chocolate and sweet, fatty food will not make you feel good after the initial rush. They will upset your body clock and interfere with its natural rhythms. But give yourself a treat; not before you go to bed, early afternoon, to give you energy and joy to get through the day.
Try not to drink more than three cups of caffeine a day because, you are not drawing on your body’s energy, but artificial stimulants. You will not recognize when you are tired and need refuelling. Listen to your body and respond to it.
8. Check-in with yourself
Create time to focus on yourself, and not get distracted by the needs of everyone around us. The best way I know to do this, take a minute to breathe and feel; check in with yourself. Ask yourself: 1. How am I feeling. 2. What do I need to do to attend to what is happening for me.
9. Limit media
Have minimum access to social media and news. No more news that once-a-day. Social media; screen contact does not meet your body’s need for connection with other people’s energy. Zoom meetings are great, and they do connect, better than no contact but aren’t enough. Organize to meet up with a friend within covid limits on a regular basis.
10. Is there a page … or even a Friend …. you need to “snooze” on Facebook?
Be very selective who you follow on social media. You can’t afford half a day of heightened emotion because someone has made an impassioned comment about something you highly value. Doing what needs to be done is to keep you in a calm place must be your priority right now. You can “un-snooze” them again on the other side of lockdown …. if you really want too lol.
Make sure you connect with special friends, the positive inspiring encouraging funny ones, at least once a day. Most of us are energized by other people. But we are also exhausted by them if they are stressed or negative. Have one or two families or interstate cousins and have daily or weekly regular phone calls or Zoom meetings.
Limit contact with stressed negative people. Provide the calm your children need to be calm and not pick up on the global anxiety.
12. End of the day routine
There is more housework now you are all at home. Clean and tidy your space at the end of your working day. Put your work and schoolwork away or at least out of sight so, you can “come home” to a relaxing space. Maybe clear out a shelf or drawer for this. Now sit down with all the family and have a catch-up time, a special afternoon tea, and even play a game or do a puzzle together. Change the energy from work to relax and family time.
13. A little Mumma creativity
Make something; craft, special food, puzzles. Draw or colour. Have something nearby you can do in short breaks; some knitting, a simple craft project, gardening. Don’t attempt anything too complicated. There are enough challenges in your life right now.
14. Do something you love
After the littles are in bed; listen to music, sew, knit or read. Sort photos, play cards. Have a planned cut off time like half an hour, so you balance doing something nice with getting plenty of rest. When your space is crowded it’s tempting to stay up because you have time to yourself. Take some time alone but limit it and go to bed when your body tells you.
15. Plan something to look forward to
Before you go to bed at night plan something to look forward to in your day tomorrow. It might be a family activity after the workday has finished, a procedure, a bath, a facial, a special TV show.
We hope these tips help in some small way to bring some calm to a challenging season.
Make sure you follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get bite-sized reminders of these tips across the coming weeks. Be sure to like the posts so that you see more of them.
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