How are you handling the change of sheltering in place? You might get some ideas from these things that are working for us…
My family has been in our voluntary self-sequester for over a week now. I’m writing off the first week as a practice week. One may have thought that going into “social distancing” would be an easy transition for a homeschool family to make.
In some ways it was. One may have even thought that with all of our “out-of-the-house” activities taken away from us, we would find ourselves with an overabundance of time and energy. In my experience that wasn’t the case at all.
We started our “social-distancing” on Thursday, March 12th. So, as a family, we’re on day 12. That’s almost two weeks since we’ve been to the gym, on a play-date, to a restaurant, to church, to Bible study, to the library, on a date, to visit with friends, to visit extended family, to the playground, on a field trip, out shopping or even out to grab a coffee. Maybe it is fair that it took us this long before we started to find our footing. Hopefully this week we will begin to discover the new normal.
Twelve days may not seem like much, but I don’t remember the last time we didn’t go anywhere for 12 days straight. Something tells me we’re just getting started.
However, this doesn’t mean that we have been sitting at home twiddling our thumbs. Only the oldest of my 4 children seems to notice at all, and that’s only because she is certain that I’m the only parent in the world who is unwilling to let her join the roving band of children that seems to be forming in our neighborhood.
When two weeks turns into more
At first, I prepared for a 14-day voluntary sequester. Now it is looking like this whole thing could drag on for much, much longer than that.
An interesting consequence of the sweeping “shelter in place” dictum has been that people have been coming out of the woodwork to help one another in virtual ways. From at-home exercise videos, free online courses, activities for children and celebrities reading books to virtual museum tours, anyone and everyone is sharing what they have and know with their online community. It is really a wonderful thing to see.
What are we going to do?
That being said, I somehow doubt you’re still looking for things to do during your “social-distancing” adventure. But, maybe you are, or maybe you are just bored and perusing the internet. Either way, I’m putting together a list of some things that have been working for us so far or that I intend to try in the coming weeks.
1 – Put your oxygen mask on first
This is a turn of phrase that is often used to express the sentiment that there are certain things you should do for yourself so that you can then be in a position where you can help others.
It comes from the safety instructions given on airplanes. In an emergency you are to put your own oxygen mask on before you begin to help other people put their masks on. It is good advice in a lot of situations, and dealing with the circumstances surrounding a pandemic is one of those situations.
How do you handle stress and change?
I see people responding to the pandemic in a myriad of ways. Some people adapt to these kinds of changes better than others and many people are apprehensive and under extra stress. There are still a lot of unknowns and unanswered questions about our current situation. For example, will it be weeks or will it be months? Will it affect our income? How many people will suffer or die because of this pandemic? What will be the long-term consequences?
Some people deal with stress by staying busy. I can now say that I am not one of those people. As I mentioned before, the first week or so was tough for me. I didn’t think that I was panicking or even particularly stressed out about COVID-19 and the shelter-in-place edict. It seemed mildly inconvenient at worst and manageable in general. However, there was an adjustment phase, and I found myself completely zapped of motivation and energy. Maybe I was more stressed out than I realized, I don’t know.
Grace under pressure
Self care means different things to different people and it is impossible for me to say what it means for you. The one thing I can say is that you should give yourself a lot of grace during this time.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you haven’t handled the news and changes as well as you would have hoped. It’s okay. Most of us aren’t prepared for this, and as far as I know there’s no instruction manual for living through a pandemic. Don’t forget to extend this grace and understanding to those around you as well. Just because someone isn’t responding the same way as you does not necessarily mean that they are wrong. We’re all in this together!
There are plenty of resources online with ideas for how to take care of yourself when things are stressful. Many of the items listed in What to do when you’re stuck at home for two weeks… or indefinitely, are the same things that can help keep you sane during a time like this. There is a lot of overlap in self-care, caring for your family and finding healthy ways to pass the time.
Here are a few of my favorite self-care ideas
DIY Spa day! It sounds cheesy, but I’m thinking of doing this for myself and my daughters this week. I’ll let you know how it goes. You may not be able to get to the store to buy fancy products, but that’s okay, you probably have some things at your house already that you can use.
If you have a bathtub, a robe, some soothing music, a grooming kit, some nail polish and your favorite lotion, then you’re good to go. If you have bubble-bath, a bath bomb, a deep conditioner, a sugar scrub or a face mask then that’s even better. It’s likely you already have the ingredients around your house for one of the following:
Journaling – Sometimes it is very helpful to get all of my thoughts organized and written down. I prefer to keep my journal on my computer because I can type much faster than I can write by hand. There are tons of ideas out there for what to write about if you’re having a difficult time! I found these ideas to be helpful.
Adult coloring books – I have some adult coloring books already, but if you don’t have any and aren’t able to obtain any, there are printable ones online. Here’s a good collection.
Social media and news detox – It is possible that having too much information at your fingertips is adding to your stress. If you find yourself obsessively checking the latest COVID-19 news, or if seeing all of your friends freaking out about it on social media is getting you down, get off of the internet! You probably aren’t going to single-handedly solve all of the world’s problems, if only you read one more article. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t care about what is going on in the world, but needless worry isn’t going to help you or anyone else. Get some rest!
Speaking of getting some rest – Seriously, get some rest. You might be more stressed out about this situation than you realize. I think I was. The kids’ school work can wait, the laundry can wait, the wholesome family activities can wait. If you need to shut it all down and get your mind right before you proceed, then do it. Take a nap, veg out, sit and stare into space, walk in circles around the inside of your house for an hour, take a 45-minute shower, give the kids animal crackers for dinner. Was some of that too specific?
I’ll end this here for now. I have other ideas that I’ll be sharing over the next several posts.