It is a whole new COVID world out there and throughout this long crisis, many of us have come to recognize that our homes have become our safest haven. September has arrived, however, and while some kids are accessing home and remote schooling, the majority are back in school full time. What remains true for all families, no matter where the learning takes place, is that self-care will be of the utmost importance during these times.
Students attending school in-person will inevitably need some downtime once they are home to decompress and then, finish up any pending homework assignments due. Those who congregate on-line for synchronous, screen to screen interaction using their computers at home will need a quiet place during the day for one to two hours at a time as well as those on a rotating schedule who will require quiet surroundings for meetings and to complete research, write reports or produce assess-able material for teachers, but at different times. Parents who often need a workspace from home, reliable internet and peace and quiet during the day will also be posed with challenges. On top of this, accommodating break times, meal times, and entertainment opportunities will keep everyone busy, all of the time, making it essential to take a mindful step towards self-care to make it through this transitional period.
It would be so easy to just let the kids succumb to the beckoning gaming consoles, and newest memes on Instagram, but their mental health is important and requires some attention too. Face-time instead of screen time seems to be during meals, and on weekends, as each of us are so busy trying to adapt and rethink how to do things differently than our pre-COVID days. Try to set some time aside each day to interact with one another, away from devices and social media.
Eating healthier has become possible because we have the time to plan meals more frequently now. We are able to get creative about the menu and support local businesses by visiting farmer’s markets for fresh ingredients. So far, it has been a trip around the world trying out new recipes with kids, even making junk food from scratch, while trying to economize on calories, as well as trips to the grocery store. Continuing to eat healthily will prove to be an excellent way to care for yourself and your family not only during the COVID crisis but throughout the years to come as it has profound effects on mood, energy, performance, comfort and satisfaction.
In a global pandemic, taking care of our families has become the number one priority and if you are privileged and fortunate enough to stay safe and healthy during this time – then an attitude of gratitude is possible. For those who have sick family members, or who are feeling consumed with other priorities, the pressure can feel overwhelming at times. This can make it hard to find the time to practice self-care, as it is difficult to think of yourself when under so many other stressors. Ironically, this is when it is so essential that you take time to practice some self-care – just like the air stewards tell you on a flight: put your own mask on first, so you will be able to help those around you.
Perhaps it is spending an afternoon tinkering with an engine or sitting down with a good book or a cup of tea that helps you to achieve ‘flow’ and find peace in some constructive way. Additional ways to practice self-care could be sleeping in once a week, calling an old friend, sewing, journaling, or crafting. The key is to find something that makes you feel good and set some time aside to thoroughly commit yourself to that project and enjoy your time without interruption.
Self-care and mental health is so important to building resilience in families, no matter whether the challenges you face are financial, emotional, social, or logistical. Self-care can easily be overlooked when we get into routines designed to care for others, our work, our pets, or our projects, but there are many creative solutions available. It is essential to ensure everyone has their own space and is taking time to care for the needs of self, healing, uplifting, and inspiring. Kids will especially appreciate healing rituals to manage the many stresses associated with the return to school. It could be as simple as walking through a trail, visiting a farm, camping in the woods, or visiting a friend. It doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to help you heal and be inspired in some way. We all need to remember to refill our mental health buckets, especially when we are spending so much more time together at home, and juggling the stressors of a new way of living.
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