As we continue to isolate from the outside world, it’s important that we feel able to cope as a family and find ways to help and support one another. As parents, we often place taking care of ourselves at the bottom of the list of priorities. But looking after ourselves and taking some time to self-care is so important. So, grab yourself a cup of tea and continue reading our top tips for helping you to recharge:
1. Take time out for yourself
With our to-do lists multiplying overnight as we take on the additional roles of teachers, nurseries, carers (all roles we may not be familiar with at all) whilst juggling work at the same time; that much needed ‘me time’ starts to slip further down the list. We know it’s not always easy to find the time for yourself and the day can run away from you before you’ve even had chance to sit down. So, try to take 15 minutes either at the beginning or end of the day to just lie down in your bedroom, listen to the radio, or even pick up a magazine and just take stock. You may find it easier to get up a little earlier to enjoy a cup of coffee by yourself before everyone is up.
2. Share the load
Don’t be afraid to speak out and allocate jobs to the children – even very young children can put dirty clothes in the laundry basket or tidy up toys. It gives them something to focus on and it makes a little extra time for yourself, just to catch up. It’s easy to get into the habit of taking over everything, but this will leave you feeling exhausted, especially if you’ve had the virus or are generally having a low day. With your partner, try to take turns to supervise the children, and set aside time to chat and listen to each other’s concerns each day, in a room away from the kids.
3. Set a routine
We hear it all the time, routine is so important for gaining a little control and this is especially true at the moment, where we feel our control has been removed. Try to encourage the kids the get up, dressed and breakfasted at a reasonable time each day and make mealtimes at the same time each day so you don’t constantly get asked ‘what time are we eating?” If you’re finding yourself worrying about home-schooling and whether the children are doing enough schoolwork, try viewing this time as an opportunity for some child-led individualised learning. Let the children write down all the different things that they could learn, do and experience during this time and then every morning, ask them to put together a schedule, made up of those things. This allows them to feel a sense of freedom and also saves you from having to think constantly about what to do with them. Remember that for the children, simply being at home with you means they will be learning new things everyday anyway so try not to be so hard on yourself.
4. Find time to switch off
A lot of us are trying to avoid watching or listening to the news too often and this is good, especially in the morning or at night. It can feel overwhelming sometimes to see or hear what’s happening both at home and outside. Try to focus on each hour at a time and build in something to look forward to at the end of each task – like a cup of your favourite tea at the end of a home-schooling task or playing your favourite music whilst you are doing the ironing. Remember, above all else, this will pass.
5. Stay connected
Now is the perfect time to keep in touch with friends and family, check-in with them and see how they are managing. Gather a few friends for a group video chat on Facetime, Zoom or House Party – just seeing your friends and laughing brings a bit of normality and helps us to feel a little lighter.
For more help
Don’t suffer in silence, remember there’s always someone you can talk to. Parents Helpline (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm) offer free, confidential advice from trained volunteers by calling: 0808 802 5544.