Two weeks into full-time distance learning for our 2 kids and we have never been more ready for the long Labor Day weekend. This new semester has proven to be much more demanding than the summer semester - with elaborate schedules, multiple ZOOM calls a day and work to submit daily to the teacher. To say that it has been challenging and tiring would be an understatement.
It has required strict time management in order to juggle 2 concurrent school schedules (we missed the odd ZOOM call in the first week due to confusing the schedules), with both parents taking time off work to focus on the home schooling and above all it has taken PATIENCE.
While helping our youngest draw the horns on his 'nightmare monster' for school - I was told they were 'too small.....now too big.....not pointy that way.....they should be pointy the other way.' Peeling a grumpy child off the floor to attend a ZOOM class he does not want to entertain. We've seen teachers stressing as they struggle to view the entire class at once on the ZOOM screen calling out: 'Has anyone seen X? Are they here today? Whose screen-name is 'Dean' we don't have a Dean in this class!'. Suffice to say it has been a challenge for us all.
That is not to say that it does not have its beautiful moments too. It is a wonderful thing to be able to be involved in your child's learning but while also trying to work a full time job or any other responsibilities it can be a real juggling act. Our kids are in Kindergarten and Second Grade so cannot be left alone to do their school work - it is a very hands-on affair. Just on returning to their room from a bathroom break I will find one crouched on the floor playing LEGO and the other splayed across the bed in dramatic form, ready to give up on it all.
The struggle is very real and no one knows for how long we are going to be doing this. It is easy to feel overwhelmed.
While we may feel that we have not a minute to spare in the day, working early mornings, late nights to catch up on work we missed while home-schooling. Or just catching up the rest of your daily tasks, errands, and responsibilities. It is more important than ever to make time for some self-care.
There are numerous things we can do to help - some only taking 10 minutes - so we can all try at least one of these things.
- 10 minutes of meditation. We love the CALMS app but there are many out there which provide guided meditations which are great for beginners. There even some lovely meditations for kids with characters such as Thomas the Tank Engine that our kids enjoy.
- Wake early. We have found getting up early has been really beneficial. To have some precious time in the morning to ourselves before the kids' day starts.
- Read a book. Take a few minutes in the morning or before bed to relax and read a good book.
- Go for a walk. If you are able to get out while someone is home with your kids. My husband and I take turns - he goes out at 5:45 am for a run and then I go out for a walk when he is back. It is important that you can work as a team - you both need to help each other to get the time each of you need. Support each other to create time for self-care. You don't only need energy to give to your kids but also your spouse/partner and yourself.
- Podcasts. This can be a great way to learn new things, listen to entertaining interviews while on the go. My husband enjoys to listen to business podcasts when he is out for a run while I enjoy listening to interviews with various actors and other public figures.
- Yoga. Sadly most yoga studios are closed but during the lock down we have found there are some great apps out there. We use the DOWN DOG app which I suspect we will use even more once the mornings start to get cooler. You can set the time of your workout, the area of your body you want to focus on etc. Just a quick 20 mins still really makes a difference. The key is every little helps.
- Body weight exercises at home. We use just a yoga ball and some exercise bands. We would tend to alternate upper and lower body split routines. Some good toning activities to get the blood pumping, feeling strong and ready to take on the day. Again how long you spend doing this will depend on your schedule but anything is good.
We are not fitness gurus or lifestyle experts - far from it. Just a family trying to find the best way to get everything done and retain an element of sanity, clarity and feeling good. It is only recently that we have got into this routine of getting up early and realize how invaluable it is. On days when we don't do it because of a 7 am call, or just couldn't get out of bed - we really feel the difference - feeling tired and lack-luster. This early start routine makes us feel stronger, both physically and mentally, to take on the day. And at the moment I think we all feel we need all the strength we can get.
It is at times when we are stretched to the limit, exhausted and no free time that we need to make more time for these things. It may seem counter-intuitive but it really makes you feel better able to tackle the day ahead.