This is an especially trying time. I mean, there are always THOSE days that feel burdensome, but in normal times, you can endure them by focusing on what needs to be done, what needs to be taken care of and taking comfort in the knowledge that this burdensome trying time will be brief and will pass. Right now, this particular time kind of feels like it has no end. I know eventually it will end, but right now? It feels a little like the movie Groundhog Day, and I am waking up in the same hamster wheel, every day much the same as the last. I know right now, a lot of the days normalcy depends on me being normal, which is quite the feat in this wholly abnormal time. A lot depends on my being steady, my wearing multiple hats, and my being okay with whatever comes my way. Because of that, because of how long this feels like it has been going on already and seemingly no end in sight, I find myself losing my motivation. I need to remember to take care of me, too, and not just my people.
I don't know about you, but nowadays, my to-do list hardly ever gets fully finished. That’s a real life thing, right, not just a lock-down or parent thing. I find myself, at the end of most days, not having gone through emails, not having finished the tasks I intended to for the day, leaving little bits here and there undone. I hate that. I am, by nature, a finisher, and usually lists (and finishing them) makes me happy, so this ultra-busy state? This is a little frustrating for me. Part of it is motivation, and kind of scrambling at doing the same tasks over and over. And part of it is normal life; work is work, and work is never finished; life is life, and god only knows, life just keeps going like the energizer bunny; parenting is parenting, and we ALL know that just never ends (in a good way; really, I don't mean that as a complaint)... at the end of the day, though, it's hard to really just be ... done. And on top of all of that, we also have added 'teacher' or 'teacher's aid' to our list. Normally, I am all for expanding on what kids are learning in schools, doing extra learning projects, etc, but this is not just projects that we are helping with; this is full-on school.
What to do, what to do.
Honestly, if I were to bump into a genie tomorrow, and (s)he were to grant me a wish, you know what I would ask for? Three hours every day, three magical hours that I had only to myself, on top of the 24 I am already allotted. These three hours would be mine to fill with stuff I want and need to do, used to get tasks completed, to sit and read, to paint my toenails, or to just hug my kids. They would be mine to use as I wished. No one could interrupt them unless I chose to let that happen. No one could fill them except me. No one could use them with mindless yammering, useless fretting or long-winded nagging. The tasks I accomplish count but during those hours, I can’t get more assigned to me. These hours? Only mine.
Selfish, I know. But my normal 24 hours are already so so full.
So let's think about this a different way, because that genie is probably not going to come. What can we do to help get ourselves through this, and in a good way?
Think about your body as an environment. For your environment: pollute less. Be good for your environment. Take care of you so that you will be around for a long time. Sleep enough, feed yourself well, take the time to get the alone time you need. Take the time to get the 'me' time you need. You know yourself best; you know what your self-care looks like. It can be exercise. It can be an art class, or learning a new skill. It can be taking the time for a walk each day. It can be taking the time to stop at your favorite coffee shop on a regular basis. It can be writing in a journal. Whatever it is, it’s important to you, and it feeds you. Take it from me, moms and dads. You are important, too. Give the kids the love and attention they deserve, but don’t forget about you: give yourself the love and attention you deserve, too. I promise you’ll be a better parent for it. You'll be a more effective employee. And probably a more patient teacher/aide.
I know I have already said this, but it bears repeating: Get enough sleep. Without enough sleep every emotion, every thought, every feeling is amplified and exacerbated. It's not the end of the world because there is no milk for your coffee but it honestly feels like it. Every little niggle turns into a huge mountain offense. Every task you try to do is filled with errors. What fixes this? Getting enough sleep.
Can you gift yourself some time being 'unbusy'?
Spend time being 'unbusy.' We often use the excuse of not having enough time, rushing around, rather than taking the time to slow down and developing an understanding of our own inner insights. Do you let yourself be bored? Do you spend time just being and experiencing what life flows around you? Do you make the effort to see past the obvious: is it just a tree, or is it the scores of green leaves, masses of branches, and all of the life that lives in and around it? Do you see the insects, spiders and birds thriving in it? There is a lot of wonder in the appreciation of all of it, of what is around you. Noticing the finer details is as important as getting all of your to-do tasks accomplished.
Deliberately set time to recharge regularly. Time for yourself and time for your family, too. We are in an age where busyness defines us; we are constantly going going going. Our schedules are full, our calendars are overbooked, we run from one thing to the next. We can't be at level Red all of the time, but that's kind of what 'normal life' feels like, right? I don't notice myself getting busier and busier until I finally get the chance to take a break (like go on vacation) and then I have an a-ha moment: (read: ‘get smacked in the face with’) how nice it is to just sit, to just be and enjoy. Then when it comes time to reengage, I realize how many things I need to turn back on and ... it is ridiculous. And it completely undoes all of the good I managed to find with the vacation in the first place. Don't do that to yourself; just set the time for you aside right off the bat, and do it in pen on your calendar so it can't be changed. Non-negotiable.
You have limited time, and seemingly unlimited demands. As much as we want the genie to come around, that three hour gift is just not going to happen. So ... do what you can with what you have. Do more of what counts, and do less of what doesn't. Take some time to be kind to yourself, and give yourself some much needed self-care. The rest can wait until you are ready to face it again.