You started out 2020 with a routine for your children for breakfast, school, bath-time and playtime. Perhaps you began 2020 in a more chaotic state with very little sleep just trying to survive the day. You may be frustrated with just how easy all those other parents show their glorious life with kids on social media. In reality we have all had our struggles, some were more forthcoming with letting others know of their difficulties and other parents kept it inside. Regardless of how well you had everything together before the spring of 2020, once the COVID-19 pandemic hit the united states, life became far more complicated and difficult.
For parents with school-aged children, over the past year, we (including myself) have appreciated the energy and focus that it takes to educate a child. I have always had respect for teachers, but that respect has multiplied several times over after seeing the struggles of families and children when kids are not in the classroom for extended periods of time. Teachers starting salaries need to start at $100,000 and go up from there, these are essential pieces of our democracy!
If you add into that mix the need to work remotely from home and provide an income for your family, then that can make the task even more difficult. Unfortunately, we have seen disproportionately more working mothers than working fathers leaving the workforce to help their children with remote learning.
One of the challenges, when we have to learn or work remotely, is that the lines between work life and home life can get easily blurred. One helpful tip for this distinction is focusing on time and place. When we designate a specific part of our home for work for a designated time then we should strive to keep those boundaries intact. A small slip here and there and we may see ourselves actually falling into 10 or 14-hour workdays. When it’s time to stop working, there must be a small ritual to let your mind and body know what time it is. Small rituals such as getting a coffee, going outside for a 5-minute walk, doing jumping jacks, or anything that you can think of to get your head out of work and into the world.
Although we may feel like we must multitask, in reality, the majority of people struggle to do this effectively. You basically have a choice of doing one thing at a time really well by giving it your full focus or doing several important things at the same time and do them all poorly. The road to focusing on single tasks is by keeping your focus on the present moment. Like every detail about the movement from how fast you are breathing to the sensation of your heartbeat, the sounds, and the smells around you. Because our senses are constantly getting information from the environment, we become numb to them. Similar to how you can not notice the smell of your home with a cat but others that come in can smell it as they are not numb to it.
I am not writing this to give solutions to all of your woes, but rather to ask some questions that may help increase the calm and clarity in your minds. I will be grateful if even one person in the world can benefit from reflecting on these questions.
- If my funeral was today, what do I want people to say I have DONE (top 10 things) in my life and how did I make others FEEL?
- Do I want to be remembered for raising well-rounded children?
- Do I want to be remembered for being helpful in my community?
- Do I want to be the person who never took a break to recharge my energy?
- Do I want to be remembered as a person with a positive attitude?
- Do I want to be remembered as the person with the cleanest house ever?
- Do I want to be remembered as watching the most amount of videos and shows I could squeeze into my life?
- In my current schedule, am I working towards those 10 big picture goals or away from them?
- What are the barriers that keep me away from reaching those goals?
- Are those barriers things that are under my control or not?
- Should I keep trying to change things that are not under my control?
- What IS under my control?
- How can I use the things under my control to help me with the goals from the question one even though I cannot change things that are outside of my control?
- What are the activities in my life (sleep, exercise, healthy eating, mindfulness) that can make me better at doing everything else in life?
- Am I devoting enough of my time to these keystone activities?