When the province I live in decided to close schools in the middle of March because of the spread of COVID-19, I had no idea how large the scope of this shutdown was going to be. They said schools would be closed for 2 weeks, so I thought everything would go back to normal in 2 weeks.
When they made the call to cancel the remainder of the school year, I cried.
It was like a slap in the face – the realization that this is not a short-term situation. I was facing the prospect of social isolation with my 6 year old daughter for months to come.
I was sad that she would be missing out on school and her friends, but I think I mostly cried for the time I would no longer have to myself. Those precious hours of solitude between coming home from work and picking her up from school were no more.
I know there are many other mothers out there still trying to figure out how the hell they are supposed to find time to take care of themselves amidst taking care of the kids, the house and any work from home that needs to be done.
As impossible as it may seem, it needs to be done. We still need to nurture our mental health in order to see this situation through.
Perhaps now more than ever – so here are 4 ways that you can prioritize your self care during COVID-19 isolation:
1. Review Your Routine
Or come to the very real realization that you do not have one. So many sources are saying to throw routine out the window and enjoy your time in isolation but I know this is not feasible for moms.
Apart from the fact that routine is important for a child’s development, you also need one to keep everything in check – including making time to take care of yourself.
Take a look at how your days have been going. Is there a semblance of routine? Or is the whole day chaotic?
I’m not saying to draft a color-coded schedule detailing the activities of each hour of the day. What you need to do is come up with a list of activities you want to do, a list that you have to do and a list of distractions for your child.
From there you need to find balance and flow.
For example, there is no wake up time for my daughter and I. However, I wake up before her so this is my time to enjoy my coffee and get some writing done.
Once she wakes up, she’s allowed to play on her phone for a bit while I make breakfast and tidy up. Once breakfast is over, we do some of her at-home school work (not all of it).
From there we’ll play some games or go for a walk. Once we’ve had our fun, she gets to play on her phone/watch a show/play on the PS4 while I get some more work done.
After about an hour (go ahead, judge the screen time), we finish up the school work and find something to do together. We usually watch a movie together while we eat supper.
Before bedtime, I do one thing by myself while she plays on her phone/TV/PS4/judge me. Usually I have a bath or listen to music or watch Forensic Files – all while sipping a glass of wine.
Yes, these are things that nourish my soul.
So, really, all that blah-blah-blah just demonstrates that while our days are not strictly routined, we have a flow we tend to follow. Not every day is the same but we still manage to accomplish everything that is necessary (including my me-time).
Take a look at how your days have been going and see if you can adjust it to flow between attending to your child and letting them distract themselves. I find this way I don’t feel bad for letting my daughter do my own thing because I know we are going to reconnect multiple times during the day.
2. Stock Your Self Care Arsenal
I have been avoiding stores like the plague (no pun intended) because I would have no choice but to take my daughter with me. Instead, I order my groceries online and spend probably too much money shopping on Amazon.
My point is, I always have a healthy stock of wine and bath salts.
You know what activities and treats make you feel relaxed and calm, so be sure to keep plenty of these on hand. This may include wine, bath salts or even a selection of interesting books to read.
Another item I keep handy is my journal in order to brain dump my anxieties at the end of the day.
Because finding time for self care is a challenge, you want to be ready to go when it happens. You never know when your little one may pass out for a nap or actually possess the attention span to watch an entire episode of Paw Patrol unattended.
3. Let It Go
When given the choice between doing the dishes or relaxing with a good book, 9 out of 10 moms are going to tackle the dishes. We kind of suck that way.
So in these trying times we need to channel our inner-Elsa and let that shit go.
Those dishes in the sink? They ain’t going anywhere (and, consequently, neither are you).
If you have an opportunity to do something for yourself then for the love of all things sacred, do something for yourself.
As I mentioned above, I tidy up while cooking breakfast. In fact, I only do my dishes while preparing a meal. And after dinner I just let those dishes sit in the sink until the next day.
The key to keeping up with everything without wasting your whole day taking care of household responsibilities is to multitask as well as have your children become more involved in the daily chores.
I mean, what better time to have your little one learn how to pitch in?
On a very unrelated note, I once saw a licence plate that read “Let It Go” but I initially read it as “Le Tit Go” and I literally LOL’d.
4. Include Your Little One in Your Self Care
I think so many moms equate self care with alone-time and believe that they have to be child-free in order to take care of themselves.
While you should certainly make time for yourself (it’s a great way to get back in touch with your true identity), there is nothing wrong with getting your kids in on the glory of self care.
Besides, since kids learn many of their behaviors from watching you, why not teach them how to take care of themselves? Imagine your little one stepping into adulthood already knowing the importance of prioritizing self care!
My daughter and I enjoy having spa nights and making our own face masks. Sometimes just cuddling up on the couch with her and watching a movie soothes my soul.
She enjoys watching me play video games, so most nights we’ll hunker down on the couch as I sip wine and defeat villains.
I enjoy doing all of these things and they make me feel relaxed and stress-free.
If you can include your child in your self care routines, then you’ve already beaten the battle of finding time to take care of yourself – with the added bonus of teaching your child how to calm and soothe their own anxieties.
Give Yourself Permission to Relax
I know that you feel like you have to fill your extra time with constructive and productive activities for you and your child. The truth is that, as long as your responsibilities are taken care of, you are allowed to relax.
Never in my everyday life would I spend so much time laid back on my couch playing video games. However, since I do expend a lot of energy during the day into engaging my child and getting things done, I give myself the permission to veg.
At first I felt guilty because I thought I should be more productive. Then I felt guilty because social media was telling me that isolating with my kid is supposed to be hard.
Now we have a pretty good flow throughout the day and I am able to take at least some time to relax and look after myself.
How are you taking care of yourself during social isolation? Are there any tips I missed? Share them in the comments below!