With the current Coronavirus pandemic, we are all trying to adjust to a new way of life. For me, and I'm sure for a lot of parents too, one of the biggest changes is how much time I'm now spending with my kids.
I'm enjoying this extended time together, and if anything, this is a silver lining in all that is happening right now. The kids have been amazing as they are working independently and are being great helpers around the house, but I do find myself overworking at times and not giving myself a break.
So if you can have or do anything in the world right now, what would it be? If I'm completely honest, I would love to be relaxing on the beach…by myself…maybe have my nose in a good book, do some writing or meditate to the calming sounds of the ocean. I know I can't do that right now, but it's still refreshing to dream and have a little escape, even if it's just in my head!
As parents, we sacrifice a lot to put our kids first but it is important to not neglect our own mental and physical health, especially during times like these! This can be an opportunity to reboot our lifestyle and build healthy habits. By focusing on the positives, we can come out of this pandemic stronger than ever.
It’s okay to be selfish sometimes
As we continue to social distance and stay at home as much as possible, it can be easy to let stress creep in and feel deflated. My top tip is to time block for some "me-time". Sometimes, you have to be selfish in order to be selfless. Take some time for yourself every day, when you can clear your mind and just…breathe.
The opportunity to be present and gather your thoughts makes a world of a difference and it does not have to be long at all. It is more about quality than quantity. I like to wake up earlier to prioritize my self-care before the day starts. This can include a 15-minute exercise routine, guided morning meditation, journaling/reading and eating a nutritious breakfast. It is the perfect way to take advantage of the fact that we no longer have to commute for work or school. I have found that I am so much more energetic and productive this way.
IBD Moms (Left: Brooke Abbott, Right: Amber Tresca)
As parents, we also need to remember that we are our kids' number 1 role model. We wouldn't want them to do schoolwork all day or skip meals so why are we doing this to ourselves? Amber Tresca and Brooke Abbott, aka IBDMoms, highlights why modeling self-care for children is so important in a recent blog post. (If you are also a mom affected by IBD, I would highly suggest checking out the online community they have built for support and advice!) Children learn and imitate behaviors by simply observing others. Take the time to practice self-care in front of your kids so that they can learn how to deal with stress or negative emotions when things don't go as expected. You will also find that you can give better care to your kids after your own needs are taken care of. After all, who wants to deal with someone who is stressed out constantly?
Get a routine going
A framework or routine helps set expectations for the day and keep demotivation at bay. Mika Perry, a wonder woman juggling 3 kids, an online business and a podcast ("Good To Be Home), finds that setting up a routine has allowed her to fully enjoy the new slower pace of life. In one of her recent podcast episodes, she dives into how she has been coping with "homeschooling" her kids and balancing her work life with her home life. Something that I found interesting is that she mentioned a schedule helps create predictability and consistency, not only for herself but also for her kids, making it easier to achieve things and create new healthy habits.
Instead of trying to do everything at the same time, setting a schedule allows you to fully focus on one thing at a time. This takes some self-discipline for sure, but it is ok if you fall off the schedule! This is unchartered waters for all of us and we are all learning as we go. Just do your best to follow it to create a good productive atmosphere.
Manage your stress
If like me, you're also living with IBD, stress level management is vital at this time. Although stress itself does not cause IBD, you may be more prone to flare-ups because of it. I have found that daily meditation has helped with calming my mind. One of my favorite guided meditation apps is "Insight Timer". There are thousands of meditations to choose from, varying in time, focus and also meditation type. I am also currently loving the "Blinkist" app which gives you key insights of best-selling non-fiction books in 15 minute bitesize audio and text. Imagine reading a book a day! How incredible is that?
Finally, just because we are physically distancing, we don't have to be socially isolated. In a way, this has actually helped us connect with everyone more than ever before. My family hosts a global reunion weekly now, while the kids’ activities, like scouting, volunteering and music classes, have all continued and even expanded to new ideas. So reach out to family and friends to stay in touch!
I am very grateful that my family is safe and all under one roof. I am also thankful to all essential workers who are still providing services during these challenging times. I hope that you and your families are staying safe and healthy. We are all in this together!
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