Covid-19, corona, the virus, the bat disease – however you refer to it – it has taken over all of our lives. The boundaries of my work and home life have blurred as have the boys’ school and play life. It was about three weeks ago that this all became a reality – prior to that it was on my radar and I was following the advice provided regarding hand washing, but can someone please tell me who does not regularly wash their hands? Ever since I was a little girl, there have always been certain hygiene rules that had to be followed.
A cap full of Dettol in the bath; changing into inside clothes as soon as I got home from school and washing hands before cooking and eating. The government is now telling everyone these are the rules we should be following, I am a little bit confused as to why this should not be standard! At work, contingency plans were put into place to support the clients, although planning for the unknown can be quite challenging. Lessons have been and still are being learnt and the uncomfortable and unknown has become normal.
My morning commute to work has turned into a 5-minute roll from the bed downstairs to the kitchen table. For my oldest Ru, I have been provided resources to home school and I can say that the first week was amazing. I devised a scheduled and we kept to it – between 9.00am and 3.00pm. I felt really proud of myself – after that the novelty wore off. I became tired (the constant cooking, cleaning and juggling) and the planning became looser each day. Until Friday it just consisted of him reading one book. But you know what I am still proud of myself – I may not be super mum able to balance home working, with three home cooked meals a day and an amazing home-schooling schedule but we are all still thriving.
Last week my boys learnt valuable lessons which are taught at school – they are learning economics. Each day they undertake chores and earn money to spend at the tuck shop. This ensures they do not eat me out of house and home by constantly eating snacks but also how to budget and how capitalism works. It has been a learning curve for them especially as on the first day they spent all the money they earned in about two hours and could not understand why they were unable to purchase anything. This activity has led to them stealing from the tuck shop till, the tuck shop stock and even each other. There have been consequences for these actions but we are finally in place where they get it!
They will actually approach me and ask if they can earn some more money. The lack of understanding has created an opportunity for me to be able to teach the boy’s life lessons about why we do not steal and potential consequences. In addition, I now have two children that can put a load of washing in the machine, transfer this into the dryer, wash up dishes, make bread, grow herbs and hoover. All things that are not usually taught at school, but are required life lessons.
Last week a mummy friend sent me a public service announcement that encourages parents to focus of on the important aspects of life, rather than fight with a child about finishing an assignment. I love this stance! Teachers are amazing professionals and when they have a class full of children, they don’t have to respond to work emails or complete briefings or entertain a 3-year-old at the same time. So, let’s put things into perspective and remember its O.K if the maths worksheet does not get finished as they can learn those skills in other ways.
As I search for positives that I can take from this situation, at periods I have become slightly overwhelmed by it all. I do not usually suffer from anxiety, but the overwhelming flood of fake news that has been taking over social media has forced me to make the decision to protect my mental health and reduce my usage. I actually see this as a positive as I could easily spend an hour scrolling Instagram or Facebook, so I now have an extra 7 hours per week to do something productive. I won’t be emerging from self-isolation able to speak mandarin, having lost 2 stone and ready to apply for master chef.
However, I will have major appreciation for physical connection with friends and family, whether this be having a meal in a restaurant or being able to go to the cinema. The freedom of being able to take the boys on a nature walk or visit a museum. The importance of my mental health and just like physical well-being it is important to feed it with nourishing information and not constantly have unsubstantial facts feeding into its space. One of the major things that has contributed to helping me stay sane is this period is music.
Last weekend, I attended a 90s brunch party via Instagram and danced for 90 minutes in the kitchen, encouraging the boys to participate whilst I taught them the music I grew up on. The Radio station 1xtra is constantly playing, whilst I work from home and I sing (out of tune) and dance all the time. It’s my coping mechanism and grounding device. Often a song will transport me back to different time or place – providing an opportunity for me to remember a person or experience. This makes me thankful for my life – and helps me to maintain mental clarity.
Each day I consider and give thanks to three things from that day – whether
it is just being able to laugh with my children, the fact that we have a garden or that I still have an income. These are surreal, strange and usual times…. that I never imagine I would experience during my lifetime. But as we live through these trying moments, what are you doing to protect your mental health and well being?
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