Coping with covid lockdowns…again
It is all too familiar, the path is well trodden and the expectations well rehearsed. And yet, for most it appears the foreboding sense of dread does not seem to be getting any easier to navigate. In fact for many, each lockdown press conference, each well rehearsed set of rules, border closure and return to remote learning, seems to be getting a little harder to handle. Yes we are tired and disappointed and feeling out of control. But, we also know that we have only one choice but to live through it ….again…and possibly again and again.
So how can we help ourselves and our families cope with whatever current situation you find yourself in? Well, really it has to be in whatever way you can muster. But here are some ideas on how we can manage the many elements of lockdown life to help look after our wellbeing and see us through ….yet again.
Coping with disappointment
Weddings cancelled, parties put on hold, milestones missed and sporting fixtures sabotaged. It’s hard and it’s disappointing and obviously the degree to which these disappointments impact people can vary greatly. But the disappointments are always there. Sit with that disappointment and allow yourself to feel sad, but also know that it is out of your control so try not to let it take over every part of you. When your kids are sad about missing big games, big milestones, allow them to be sad. Let them feel that, but also remind them that they have done this before. They have experienced many, many disappointments over the last couple of years and for the most part they got through it. They have a fair bit of resilience building up inside them right now. And try to remember that the times when we do get to catch up with friends at a party, hug those friends on the dancefloor or run out with mates on that footy field…..always seem to feel a little sweeter and a little more special when it does (as it will) happen again.
Coping with distractions
For many parents, having kids around 24/7, trying to manage your own work, as well as managing remote learning or little kids that require seemingly constant attention is hard. Hopefully you are in a workplace that recognises this and the expectations mirror that reality. Try to find a routine that works in order to get your most urgent work done in times that are not going to require as much attention from your kids. Maybe you could work out a schedule at the start of the day if you have a partner also working from home. You take it in turns to take the kids out for a walk or to the park for a time so the other can have some uninterrupted time. If that is not an option it may also mean handing over the ipad for a couple (or many) hours more than you would usually be comfortable with. As long as they are not doing anything unsafe or hanging out on dodgy websites then it is unlikely to do them any real damage. It might, however, just save a little of your sanity.
Coping with the unpredictable
Covid 19 has presented us with a lot of unpredictability. It changes by the hour and planning for anything has become a thing of the past. As humans we like predictability. We like to know what is happening and when and how. It gives us a sense of security. And this is certainly true for our kids. But we cannot predict how long lockdowns last for, when they happen or how many more we will have. So it is important we try and take back some of this predictability for our kids. Rituals and routines become a crucial part of lockdown lives. We all had rituals that we have done before and seem to pick up again each time. Maybe it’s walking the dog after dinner, a board game at night, a lunchtime kick of the footy, shooting some hoops or a bedtime story. Having everyone at home all the time also means mealtimes can be a time of coming together regularly. Research tells us that those who sit at the table and eat together do feel a greater sense of security which is replicated with greater wellbeing outcomes later on. So use this time to keep those little rituals going and provide whatever predictability we can.
Coping with overwhelm
There will be times when it all feels too much. Remember the importance of self care for yourself as a parent and remember to role model behaviours that show you looking after yourself. Self care is not selfish. It’s about doing whatever you need to do to put yourself in the best position to handle the day, the kids, the workload or the everyday stressors. Be conscious of the things that you know you need. Fresh air, exercise, good food, a chat with a friend, a cup of tea and good book, plenty of sleep, and of course asking for help if you need it.
Coping with comparison
You may find yourself continually comparing yourself to what other people are doing or achieving at this time, and it may well be affecting your sense of self worth or just making you feel a little crappy. There is nothing wrong with other people’s achievements of course, but be mindful of the stories you are telling yourself and remember the often ‘glossed over’ view we get of others on social media. Steer clear of the platforms, the people or the online places that you know are not going to serve you well. This can be hard as we also know we can get connection and support from our online connections, but choose them wisely when you can.
Coping with the uncontrollables
There is a lot of stuff we can’t control right now. We can’t control covid 19, restrictions, where we can go, shop or visit or whether our kids go to school. So instead just aim to control the controllables. What are the things you can do and the decisions you can make in your own home to hold on to some of that control. We can still decide how we spend a lot of the time, how much activity we do, what foods we eat, how much sleep we get, what routines we take up and hopefully how much fresh air we can get which is crucial for our wellbeing in so many ways. We can also put ourselves in control of how much news and media we consume (I suggest limiting it to a “needs to know” basis) and of course we can control what we watch on Netflix. (Here is also a great list of things to listen to, watch and read from my friend Vanessa at Style and Shenanigans)
At the end of the day I urge you to cut yourselves and your kids some slack. Run your own race or shuffle along at whatever pace suits you right now. Our mental health and wellbeing, and the mental health and wellbeing of our kids is the most important thing right now, regardless of where you are right now.