I have been reluctant to write about step three of Plan It Out because it’s about self care. What even is self care for mothers in this time of the Coronavirus pandemic? We are home with our children 24/7 and I know that for me, many of my self-care practices have gone out the window.
So for this coming academic year I am going to have to look at self care with fresh eyes.
A lot of my old self care tools involved getting the help of other people to watch my children, so I could take care of myself. That included taking my kids to my barre3 studio where there was amazing childcare, so I could exercise. Using a babysitter, so my husband and I could go on a date. Dropping my eldest at ballet and going to the coffee shop for a homeschool planning session. Dropping my two older children off at Forest Fridays so I could have a day enjoying my littlest. Leaving my kids at home on a Saturday and going to the sauna or to get a massage. Literally every single on of those is no longer an option for me.
So … I return to the very basics by asking … what fills my cup? How can I take care of myself in the midst of the monumental task of not just homeschooling my children but also just being around them all the time.
In some cases, I have been able to replace one favorite form of self care with a slightly modified version. For example, instead of going to barre3 to work out, I signed up for their online classes and now I work out in our basement while my husband keeps an eye on the kids. We have kept my parents in our quarantine bubble and so now instead of using a babysitter to get a date night, we drop our kids off at my parents for an overnight and have a special dinner and movie at home.
Other things that keep me sane:
Have a creative practice
I find that even when I’m with my children it helps me to disengage a bit but still be present to be doing something creative with my hands. When I am still sitting at the lunch table because I’ve finished eating but my kids’ conversation has devolved into fart jokes or re-hashing disputes they’ve had 1,000 times, it saves my sanity to pull out my knitting and allow myself to be a bit there but not there. I also really enjoy knitting if we’re watching a show together (that I’m not super interested in) or if they’re playing in the backyard and I’m outside to supervise. For me, writing here is also a creative practice and I feel very rewarded by engaging with the people who read this blog (thanks for being here!).
Be engaged in a book
I love being immersed in a really good book. I not only enjoy the time I spend actually reading, but it gives me a lot of joy to think about the characters and their challenges as I go about my day, especially during mundane tasks like washing dishes and folding laundry. I have been trying to read either for a few minutes before I fall asleep, or a few minutes right when I wake up, and also reading during our afternoon quiet time. I read a lot with my children, and go through seasons where I’m not great about having my own book going, but I find that it’s key to have my own story I’m engaged with. I will also add that I’ve found it very comforting to read about times in history where people faced huge challenges. I’m currently reading Deep River, which is about Finnish immigrants who become loggers in Southwest Washington in the early 1900s, and I move through my day with an appreciation that I’m not worried about whether I have enough food for winter or that my husband might get crushed by a tree at work.
Get up before the kids
This one is really hard for me, because I often stay up too late, but it’s something I’m working on. As an introvert, I find that it helps immensely to start the day with some quiet alone time. I enjoy using this time to sip a cup of decaf, maybe do something productive, or maybe just knit or read. I also love to use this time to think through our day and write a short to-do list. Checking things off the list help me to feel productive and helps direct me when I start feeling rudderless in the middle of the day.
Time in nature
I find spending time in nature to be so soothing and re-centering and yet I’m not great about making it happen on a regular basis. With our wide-open schedule now there is really no excuse. This year I am thinking about replacing my children’s Forest Fridays experience with a family hike on Fridays. I am also thinking about planning some weekend hikes with just my fifth grader this year. This will give us some much-needed mother/daughter time and will also allow us to try out some nature journaling without dealing with younger kids who are bored or need to pee.
Looking after my health
Since I’m writing about self care during a time of pandemic it seems important to mention how I’m taking care of my body in the hopes that I don’t catch the Coronavirus. Aside from the obvious precautionary steps like staying home as much as possible, social distancing and wearing a mask when out in public, I am making sure I take my supplements daily, drinking lots of filtered water, avoiding sweets, getting exercise and resting when I’m tired. I enjoyed this podcast recently about how to supercharge your immunity and practice a lot of these tips in my daily life.
So this is not groundbreaking stuff. This is definitely a season of getting through and making do. It’s also a season for being gentle with ourselves and perhaps lowering our expectations. I would love to hear how you’re taking care of yourself these days.
I wrote about Step One of Plan It Out here:
And Step Two here: