For years, I’ve said it and felt it.
I’ve heard others say it, too.
“I’m always so busy. I wish the world would just slow down.”
So many times I’ve thought about how I just want to jump off the crazy hamster wheel to just SLOW DOWN and BREATHE. To just BE.
This is never, ever how I imagined it happening.
I never would have wished for it to happen in a way that has brought so much devastation across the entire world, with thousands dead, doctors having to choose who to save, ice rinks turned into temporary morgues, and basically living in fear that the vulnerable people we love won’t be lucky enough to make it through.
I have a dear friend going through chemo.
I have parents in the high-risk age group.
I have a nephew who is very immuno-compromised.
I have many friends who are nurses and midwives, working in hospitals every single day.
I have elderly neighbours.
I know dozens of people who are deemed high risk…and I don’t know if they’ll all survive this, which is terrifying and gut-wrenching to think about.
I’m sure you do, too.
On a less life-threatening scale, but nonetheless difficult one, I am currently not allowed to attend hospital births, and have had to support my devastated clients through that. I have also put a hold on taking any new bookings. 2020 was going to be “the year” I was finally giving my business the space and energy to flourish. I think every year, we all start with such ambitious goals and resolutions – this will be THE year for [insert your priority and goals and dreams here]. And then something like this happens, and it all goes out the window.
(Note: There are many families facing losing their homes and their livelihoods, and struggling to put food on the table through this, through job losses and shutdowns – I see you and acknowledge that it adds another huge layer of complexity to the situation, and makes it far more difficult to “breathe” and “enjoy” when life seems infinitely more impossible right now. I hope you can find the support you need to meet your family’s needs, and get back on your feet again – and that our government for once looks after its people and not just its own interests. And I am SO SORRY it’s hard right now. You will get through this, you are not alone. There are also many, many women and mothers who HAVEN’T lost their jobs and are, in fact, out there on the frontline…coming home exhausted and unable to even hug their families, lest they pass on the virus they may have been exposed to – nurses, doctors, midwives, childcare workers, teachers, aged care and social workers, supermarket workers and other essential services. Life has probably sped up, not slowed down – and really, all I can do is say THANK YOU, and I hope that are being nurtured and cared for, too. I also acknowledge that for some women, being at home could mean more time with an abuser, and for children not attending school, it could mean going hungry and/or being neglected/abused. This is so incredibly complex and certainly for some people, there are very little in the way of silver linings).
BUT at the same time, it has been a chance for me to do exactly what I’ve wished for, for so long, since becoming a mother and feeling like time suddenly sped up, and the days blur into the weeks, the weeks blur into the years and you sometimes feel like you’re really just hanging on by a thread and going along for the ride.
This obviously won’t apply to everyone, BUT if you do find yourself suddenly at home a LOT more – no school runs, no extracurricular activities, no work etc….
Amidst all the feelings of anxiety, I am making a conscious effort to use this time as my chance to BREATHE and BE, and I encourage you to do the same.
We are so used to schedules, routines, control and plans. We no longer have that, so we must instead surrender, be present and take each hour, each day as it comes.
If you are expecting a baby, or have a new baby, or even if you’re a parent of older children, I encourage you to use this time to be connected and present, too.
You don’t HAVE to do everything. You don’t HAVE to “bounce back” or “get back to normal” or be running, exhausted, on the hamster wheel. That pressure on women and new mothers to do it all is just not there at the moment (for some of us).
Yes, in some ways there is extra mental load and pressure (finding adequate supplies and making sure you’re well stocked, rejigging the budget, ensuring your kids are following strict hygiene measures etc).
BUT I suggest that with any extra time you have at home…
If you are pregnant…
– take baths and feel your baby moving
– take naps, go to bed early
– make a belly cast (order materials online)
– do an online hypnobirthing course or other birth preparation
– write/draw/colour affirmations
– take self-portraits
– cook nourishing food to freeze for when your baby is born
– do pregnancy yoga
– have a virtual baby shower/mother blessing
– go for a walk on a quiet beach (obviously following strict hygiene and physical distancing measures)
– join a “due in” group and connect with other mamas
– research your birth choices so you can feel prepared and confident
If you are birthing…
– stay tuned, because I have a whole post coming about that!
If you have a newborn…
– stay in your “nest” and/or bed and do skin to skin with your baby as much as you can
– take baths or showers with your baby
– sleep in/nap when you can
– enjoy time with your older children that you may not otherwise have, and the opportunity they have to be at home and bond with their new sibling in a meaningful way
– spend time with your partner if/when they’re not working and encourage their bond with your new baby, too
– Zoom/FaceTime/WhatsApp/Skype with family and friends
– Learn to knit/sew/crochet/quilt and make something special for your baby as an heirloom
– Eat nourishing food and drink tea
– Soak up all those moments that pass by so quickly
If you have older kids…
– PLAY with them
– Cook/Bake with them
– Take photos of them
– Create a garden with them/grow your own food
– Read with them
– Start a journal with them, where you can share each other’s thoughts and deepen your connection/relationship
For any woman/mama…
– Learn something you’ve always wanted to learn/do something you’ve always wanted to do (musical instrument, craft etc).
– Study an online course in something you’ve always been interested in (there’s lots of heavily reduced/free options available).
– Finish unfinished projects (for me, it’s a 3000 piece jigsaw puzzle and my 366 photo project).
– Call/text/write letters or emails to friends and family you haven’t caught up with as often as you’d have liked. This is a chance to connect – even if it’s from afar.
– Work on creating habits you can bring forward with you when things are “normal” again, like yoga/meditation/journalling/health etc.
– Cook new things (assuming you can get ingredients).
– Read books and watch movies – all those “unproductive” things that you haven’t ever had time for.
– Clean, declutter and/or redecorate…if you feel like it (who is gonna see anyway?!)
– Nothing. Just. Do. Nothing. At least some of the time. And/Or sleep in/nap. Turn off your alarms, at least for a while (I know for me, creating some kind of rituals/routine is helpful to my mental health, but sometimes it’s really nice to NOT have it, too).
– Keep moving. Walk your dog or just walk alone, listening to nature or a book or podcast. Do an online fitness challenge if that’s your kind of thing. But exercise, sunshine and fresh air are both important for physical and mental health and even in lockdown we are encouraged to continue these things whilst practising social distancing.
– Be kind. Do a RAOK (random act of kindness) for someone in your community, or a friend or family member you know is struggling. Do something kind for a nurse, doctor, healthcare worker, supermarket worker, childcare worker, teacher or other essential worker who are out there on the frontline.
– Support small local businesses if you can – they are struggling. For some, this is more than a livelihood, it’s a DREAM. And so many are coming up with innovative ideas to keep those dreams alive.
– If you are a business owner yourself, use the opportunity to do all the jobs you struggle to fit in – write a business plan, catch up on bookkeeping and paperwork, schedule social media posts, do a marketing course or write a social media plan, etc etc.
Breathe. Love. Connect. Be.
Always reach out if you need to.
Remember it is PHYSICAL distancing, not SOCIAL distancing.
We are all in this together.