The best part of juggling is knowing when to drop the balls.
Do you know Frozen 2 by heart? Is your fridge door coming off its hinges because it never stays shut? Is the closet no longer your hiding place? Are you done keeping cool when home schooling your children? If the answer is 'Yes', this blog may help you.
A recent survey conducted by UN have found that women have been more affected by the current situation. Women across the border have been driven close to burnout by both paid work relating to their work and unpaid work home schooling and doing more chores at home. Unfair expectation of women’s share of chores have been a prolonged discussion with little progress. However, what I will be sharing in this blog is how to manage stress and anxiety whilst juggling work and children.
Let go of the guilt
When we give birth we get guilt as a gift? It's a buy one get one free bargain isn't it? We are constantly left in the limbo of 'is this enough/too much?', 'can I go to work/or not?'. To make the matters worse, lock-down has left us with home schooling children whilst maintaining our job. How on earth is that going to be possible? Many mothers I have spoken to so far have had to make compromises. So, why am I asking you to let go of the guilt. Because, teaching needs specific training and not all parents are trained to teach. I was in education for 20 years. But, when it comes to my own child’s homework, I constantly feel like I don't know what I am doing. (often I got told I didn't know what I was doing by my 7 year old!). So, I started baking and going out on walks and then slowly turned the TV on more often. In a nut shell, I let go of the guilt.
Energetically, ‘guilt’ is a heavy feeling and it burns too much energy. If you are struggling with too many things to do already, the last thing you need is to burn whatever energy you have left within you. After all, have faith in the schools and all the wonderful teachers. They will plan something to help the children catch up. Work with the schools and the teachers closely to share your concerns factually when the schools restart. For now, let go of the ‘guilt’ and conserve your energy levels.
Didn't we get disciplined at everything growing up except when it comes to looking after ourselves? Employers have had troubles trusting working from home concept even before the lock-down? So, it's not your responsibility to solve that issue. It is easy to extend our working hours when we don't have the transition from office to home. So, how can you ensure there's a transition from your laptop/phone to home life? Can that be a walk, cooking or even a trip to your bathroom? Create a time table/routine with your family. What will make you feel like your work is done for that day? For me, if I turn the laptop off and tidy up my desk, it is a visual sign that my work is done. How will it help having someone to make you accountable to switch off from work? When you transition from work to home, what would be the first thing that you like to do? What reward would you give yourself when you have followed your routine? Writing down answers to those questions will always help you when you make a plan and stick to it. I just want to remind you that over worked brain is not a productive brain. After all, you cannot pour water from an empty cup.
I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to exercise. Amongst many other benefits, exercise helps you bring the anxiety levels down naturally. Walking, dancing, skipping, gardening are some you can easily do at home. What often stops from people achieving their daily exercise target is not forming healthy habits. It takes anything from 3 weeks to 100 days to form a new habit. So, think of what will help you form these new habits or continuing the new habits that you have already formed. Who in the household will hold you accountable? How will early planning benefit you? What changes are required in our daily routine to ensure to fit in exercise? What reward will you give yourself when you have achieved your daily exercise? These are important questions to think about when planning your exercise routine. Whatever you do, ensure it is consistent.
What we eat have a strong relationship with stress and anxiety. Avoid refined sugar and replace it with natural sugars like honey. Genetically modified food should also be on top of your list to avoid. Adding a lot of green vegetables such as broccoli, kale and sprouts will help you balance your hormones and lower stress and anxiety. Add a lot of nuts and fruits to your diet as well. Liquid Chlorophyll is highly recommended to add to your diet as a supplement. It’s packed with natural vitamins and minerals that helps you manage anxiety, weight loss and clear your skin. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, please do check with your GP.
It is scientifically proven that meditation helps increase focus and reduce stress and anxiety. Often, it is believed that meditation needs a special environment with dimmed lights and aromatic incense and calm music. If you can create or be in such an environment, it will increase your ability to focus on meditation. But, not all of us are lucky to have such an environment, specially if the children are running around and the house is already crowded.
Watch a five year old at play. If they are totally engrossed, they are doing a meditation by living in that moment. What will help you get five minutes out of that chaos? I tend to wake up at least 30 minutes before mine wakes up and meditate, sip a cup of tea before the day begins. What space can you create for yourself? For those who are new to meditation, I recommend Joe Dispenza or follow the instructions given below to Anapanasati Meditation; one of the many types of meditations taught by Buddha.
The first step is to take up your breathing as an exclusive object of attention; focus your attention on the sensations produced as the lungs, naturally and without interruption, fill up and empty themselves. You can pick up these sensations by bringing your attention to the nostrils, chest, or abdomen. As your breath awareness practice matures, this attention can be expanded to the body as a whole. In the Buddha's words: "Being sensitive to the whole body, the yogi breathes in; being sensitive to the whole body, the yogi breathes out."
Ask for help! This could even be from your 5-year-old. Chances are that they may so ‘no’ and first time you try it, you may end up getting more tired trying to convince your child to help. The point is, asking for help is a skill that we have to develop. As women, we have been conditioned to ‘get on’ with things at home. If we are not conditioned, we carry on doing it because we can. This isn’t a matter of whether we can or not. It’s a matter of how you are going to sustain such an approach without you being unwell. What stops you from asking for help? What area do you need help with? What barriers do you have when asking for help? Try answering those questions and your answers may guide you to start practising.
Is it helpful for you to wait until our lives go back to 'normal' to prioritise yourself? What benefits will you receive if you create these helpful health habits now? Whatever the answers you give yourself, I am sure you are going to make the best decisions for yourself. If you need any help, you can always contact me.