I used to have a commute to-and-from work and a lunch break by myself four days a week; it was my time to daydream, walk, listen to music, pray, make plans, decompress and compartmentalize. I used to have Monday’s to myself while the kids were in school; it was my time for long hikes, writing, and content creation for social media inspiration. Most of my writing ideas and personal breakthroughs happen when I have space and time to think. I am reliant on my alone time to refuel, and know that I’m a better mother and friend when I’m taking care of myself.
Quarantine eliminated all of the balance in my routine, and for maybe the first month of working from home, constantly sharing space with my kids, and increased responsibilities (cooking, cleaning, and activities to help manage boredom, conflict, and screen-time), I felt so overwhelmed and stretched thin, with a constant pressure to be in multiple places at once (physically, mentally, and emotionally). I’ve spent a lot of time in counseling and reading self-improvement books, and like to think that I’m decently self-aware (although it took me a while to recognize why I experiencing so much stress and see that I was starting to create some self-destructive patterns), so when I identified my never-ending state of exhaustion and a heavy sense of loss, I spent some time considering the things I’d “lost” and quickly discovered that by creating a new routine I could structure my work-from-home life to create the balance I desperately need.
I want to show-up for myself, my family, and my work with enthusiasm, passion, creativity, and a light heart, and that’s impossible when I spend everyday depleting myself without refilling myself. I’ve been following my new routine for a few weeks now, communicate with my children when I’m available and when I’m not, and so far it’s working! Everyday, I walk around my neighborhood in the morning before cooking breakfast (or go for a very early hike), I listen to music and dance around the kitchen while cooking, and then I go to my “office” a few minutes early with my tea, write my daily gratitude, take some deep breaths, and mentally shift into my work brain. Every hour I take a 3-5 minute to walk around the house and check-in with each of my kids, and stretch. Mini yoga sessions are a new favorite work-day escape. Lunch is family time, and I look forward to “leaving work” to spend time with my kids. A couple times a week we get take-out as an excuse to get in the car as a family (most of the time everyone but me is barefoot and missing necessary articles of clothing for public decency, making it extra exciting for the little ones). After work, I go for a quick walk or spend a little time in my bedroom to shift my brain from work-mode back to my personal life. Dinner is a loud, busy, high-energy time of day, the kids are eager for my attention and pull me in multiple directions, and it takes a purposeful decision to be in the moment and match their energy when every day feels like it’s been a week-long. After dinner, when the kids are playing and/or watching tv, I put on my running shoes (even when I don’t feel like it). Sometimes I listen to club music from the early 2000’s and run fast, and sometimes I listen to country music and speed walk while finding cool things to take pictures of. Either way, I separate myself from all my “to-do’s” and “shoulds” for a little while to spend time with myself and refuel. When my energy is really low, I have some silly habits to get myself in the mood (like fake laughing until it becomes real, jumping up and down, spinning in circles with my arms outstretched, and lip singing to the music in my headphones). . . I’m sure I look crazy, and I’m ok with that!
I wouldn’t choose many aspects of this quarantine life, but prioritizing self-care and making the most out of these circumstances has created a lifestyle I’m thankful for, peace in the face of uncertainty, and growth and adaptability I’m confident will have life-long value.
How do you self-care? Please share so we can learn from each other!
Here are some photos from my recent walking and hiking adventures: