I like to think that pre-motherhood me would do juuuuussssttttt fine with a little self-quarantine time. I was a book lover, a ponderer, a journaler and held a deep appreciation for a substantial amount of alone time. To an introvert, a little mandated self-isolation is totally palatable…. Present that same scenario to a mom of twin toddlers plus a husband working from home and after 2 weeks my cheese is about to slide off my cracker.
A fellow mama friend of mine had this exchange with her sister, who totally missed the point that moms of young ones are typically craving boredom rather than seeking to fill it.
Here are a few strategies I am using to keep it together, hopefully with a little grace:
Let Me Check My Calendar
Mama needs a breather. In mom life the days are already long and exhaustive. Through the added intensity of removal of social engagements (like play dates), easy outings, a crowded household, a panicked society and total uncertainty when this crisis will ease up, the day after day can go to a dark place. This is a practice of endurance and mental fortitude.
My husband and I try to chat in the evenings about the next day’s schedule. I need to know when I can plan for a break. May it be 30 minutes or an hour. If an hour, sometime it’s separate 30 minute increments. Having a pre-planned break scheduled during the “work day” helps me enjoy the time with my family by providing certainty that I will also have a slice of time to recharge my battery in whatever way I see fit. Maybe I’ll work out, maybe I’ll meditate, maybe I’ll write, maybe I’ll call my dad, maybe I’ll watch crap TV, maybe I’ll sit in the sunlight with a cup of tea and stare at nothing.
What I absolutely will not do is sit and scroll on my phone. We know that checking your phone first thing in the morning is unhealthy, we know that checking it right before bed is too. Have you considered that “Phone Break = No Break?” This recent ReWire article revealed “researchers at Rutgers University found that using a cellphone during a break doesn’t allow your brain to recharge between tasks.”
“Cellphone breaks resulted in the same levels of cognitive depletion as not taking any break at all.”
Please consider allowing yourself a little detox when you need it the most.
Work It Out
Exercise and movement has already been a stress reliever for me. It helps me flush out anything swirling in my brain or release pent up frustration. Oddly enough, it also gives me more energy than if I had not worked out, a LOT more. It also helps me feel good about myself, my skin looks healthier and I like knowing I’m putting those extra calories I’m consuming during this time to work.
As moms, fitness time and “me-time” often get combined but I know we can get thrown off balance when our favorite gyms/yoga studios/run groups close and we are grasping for what to do to make self care happen at home. It takes strategy and commitment to not let that precious time slip through our fingers like grains of sand.
Thankfully our community and the global fitness community is putting a TON of exceptional free content out there to help us- as long as we make the sacred promise to ourselves to put our sneakers on and make it happen. We also have the opportunity to workout with the best scenery possible, the great outdoors. Let’s enjoy taking a break from the gym box.
Here are some workouts I’ve been enjoying over the last week. I also happen to have some light weights, a small kettlebell, a jump rope and some resistance bands that are seeing some action right now. If you don’t have equipment, don’t let it stop you. Ps. You can also use canned food as weights or squat a child.
- Low Tide Beach Run – We live in Santa Barbara. Put on some headphones and hit the sand. Your booty will thank you.
- Stairs – I have a massive staircase leading down to the beach in my neighborhood which means I never have a good excuse not to get a little sweat in. The city college also has stairs waiting for you where you can practice appropriate social distancing… and overlook the ocean.
- Bond Fitness @bondfitnessSB mini workouts – check out their Instagram page where new videos are live streamed every day at 8am and then posted for 24 hours. These are great on their own or I like to pair them with a short kettlebell, weight or band workout scouted from Pinterest.
- MadFitness @madfitness_SB is sharing daily workouts as well. I paired one with a long trail run and simply found a good spot on my run to bust out the body weight movements.
- CorePower is putting out some incredible free content. Lock yourself in your room and light a candle or lay a mat out under a tree outside and Let It Flow.
- The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music. The flowers are out with all the creeks and the lush green hues- why aren’t you? Isn’t hiking all about social distancing in nature anyways?
Is there any better gym than this? Bonus: It’s always open.
Can’t go on a trip? How about a mind trip? Have you considered a little meditation in your life? With benefits like reduced stress, mental clarity, increased positivity and happiness, improved health and maybe even inner peace is there really a better time to try? There are sooooo many options out there with different levels of granola crunchiness.
My favorite is this series of 15 minute guided meditations led by Deepak Chopra and narrated by Oprah. #HopeGoesGlobal
“Make your own well-being the start of global wellness.”DEEPAK CHOPRA
If 15 minutes is still too much of a commitment try out the Headspace app which allows you to begin practicing in increments as little as 3 minutes at a time. You could start by replacing 3 of the minutes you just spent mindlessly scrolling through social media which probably left you feeling more concerned and depleted from where you were before.
Give Me A Break
Last week my husband and I had a little chit chat. Someone wasn’t taking self care seriously and was getting a little crabby, a little cranky, surly, crusty and snippy. In reality, it applied to both of us. That grounding conversation resulted in us coming to a life saving agreement: He would take half of Saturday off, completely off of all responsibility, and I would take half of Sunday.
What did I do with my half day? I knocked off a decorating project hanging a beautiful tribal blanket and wall baskets from my late grandfather that I recently inherited, I went for a 2 hour hike up Jesusita Trail where the yellow wildflowers were in full vibrance, I blew out my hair, I read, I called my brother, I putzed around… It was nothing short of amazing.
I don’t know why we didn’t do this a long time ago, pre-Coronavirus, but I do know that some great ideas are born from necessity. If you are struggling with close quarters, try talking to your partner about trading off on “check-out” time.
Relationships Are The Key To Happiness
Once you have a grip on your own mental health and harmony has been restored within the household, put a little extra effort into reaching out to those you love. Call your dad, your brother, your aunt in Australia, your cousins. Schedule virtual calls when you can. Start an email chain with your family. Just make a little extra push because these are the times that matter.
One of my fellow twin mom friends sent us a card with kid art on it and it was a wonderful reminder that the postal system is still an effective method to sending messages full of love. Today my kids and I paid it forward by decorating cards to send out to our loved ones.
I’m also instituting 5pm Facetime on a daily basis in order to make the effort to really keep the love alive.
These are just a few thoughts I have to try to be the best of version of myself and maintain balance during these stressful times. I would love to hear about what others are doing to stay centered and keep love and community strong.