June I am releasing two blogs as I have been neglecting this aspect of sharing with all of you over the last few months, so I doubled-Up this month. Thank you for your understanding. Thankfully by keeping up with my own self-care practice I have been able to alter what needed to be altered. It has taught me so much and I want to share some of that learning with you here and now. Lately I’ve been looking back at my childhood, and contrasting it to that of my own 7-year old daughters’. Both my parents worked traditional jobs. My dad was a Supervisor and had 9-5 hours, and my mom was a Nurse, working various 8-hour shifts. When they were home, they were 100% focusing on the family, which consisted my older brother, myself and our dog.
As a Mother, Founder, Director of Nurturing Our Wellbeing and Clinical Lead at an agency which services youth with mental health concerns, I am often busy. When I look at my daughter, she has had to learn to navigate sharing her “mommy time,” with texts and phone calls from adolescents, creating resources for my website, prepping for corporate workshops, etc. Top that with not being able to go into school, fun sports or have sleep-overs at Nana & Grandpa. Sometimes I think to myself from a child’s perspective “this must suck!”
Having my daughter at home with me during this crisis has really highlighted how mindful I am regarding how I divide my time in a day. Normally, she is at school, learning and having fun with her friends. The first week flowed positively, but as the “return to school date,” in Ontario was pushed to September, I’ve wondered how this might change.
I have been managing home-schooling my daughter, but to be completely honest there are days when I say to myself how can this be sustained?! I have learned that I love homeschooling, IF it was my only responsibility in the day and even though I am told I have adapted well by finding ways to creatively approach motherhood whilst doing my work guilt was something I experienced as it seems unfair for my daughter. Thoughts of “she should develop patience and let me finish typing my power-point slide” or “if she could just let me finish this phone call,” have popped into my mind. Then I mentally slap myself as she is a child and is having to navigate life in a very different way from when I was growing up!
This has become the reality for plenty of parents who have been suddenly thrust into this situation. Below are some strategies I’ve developed to navigate this new challenge:
1. Take an objective view at each of your “calendar habits.”
It’s great to plan out your entire week on Sunday, but only if you are reasonable about how things will happen. For example, saying that from 5 AM to 7 AM every day you are going to work, so that at 7:30, you can have breakfast with your kids. But what if you’re a night-owl work-wise, and your kids don’t actually get up until 8 AM? Adjust your schedule to the new reality of your home-life. Schedule an hour of playtime with your kids when they are often restless, and try to keep that block free from calls. This can be difficult for some jobs, but one of the silver linings to come from this situation is the bit of flexibility afforded to everyone. Consider following my Set-It-Up YouTube posts where each week you can get quick & practical new self-care tips to help prep for your up-coming week.
2. Explain what is going on to your kids, and help them to understand why it is that you do what you do.
To you, an email around your companies new project can seem like the most urgent thing, but to your kids, looks like every other email you get. By explaining to them the projects you are working on, they have context as to why you responding right then and there is so important. Kids can be extremely understanding when they have context about what’s happening. Depending on the age of your child incorporate pretend whenever you can. My daughter loves it when she has her own “webinar” on certain life topics to create and then later she has an audience (her stuff animals, dolls and moi of course ?? ) to present it to. She is learning with an end-point of us being able to connect through it. Plus, it allows just enough time for me to complete something needed for my day.
3. Involve them in your work so they can feel a part of this side of your life as well.
Analyzing a company for a stock purchase? Explain the pros and cons in terms they can understand, and listen to their perspective. Writing a report? Have them help you come up with a catchy tagline. This will help them feel involved, which can be a great contributor to their sense of patience. Due to the fact that many of my webinars are experiential, my daughter has been able to participate by following what a slide suggests (i.e. breathing technique, mindfulness, modified yoga & communication shifts etc).
The key to success is understanding on both sides. Your work is the reason you can give them the life you do, and you shouldn’t feel bad for not spending every minute of the day with them. In the same respect, understand how they may feel (scared, confused, ignored, etc.) and do your best to mitigate these where you can. For more suggestions please check-out this resource.
And please find ways to release any feelings of guilt or regret. We are all doing the best we can.
Self-Care is the Best Care and Your Time Is N.O.W.