Even though we were getting ready for the school Easter holiday, some of us still had a plan for the holiday that would not involve being locked up at home with our kids and without a choice. You cannot even send them to Grandma or their cousins.
If you have a domestic help that resumes in the morning and closes in the evening, you most likely have stopped her. There is no crèche, neighbor or friend that can help you babysit, even for one hour.
To add to all that, your husband is now working from home. Phew.
So you went from having 7.30 am to, at least, 2 pm free from hubby and kids as a result of work and school, to having a house full of children and adults to feed more than three times a day.
If you are not careful, you will be overwhelmed, then joy-less and ultimately become a grumpy mummy that your kids are not enjoying anymore. This period, it is important for you to enjoy your kids and your kids to enjoy you. How then can you keep the joy while beating the overwhelm?
These three tips will get you on track:
Brutally eliminate distractions
With most people at home now, your friends are looking to catch up, so random calls, chats, and idle chatter will become incessant. However, you do not have the time for that. While some people got freer, you got busier, so feel free to let the phone ring out and have many unopened WhatsApp chats.
Nothing will overwhelm you quicker than misplaced priorities. Just before I wrote this, my friend called me while I was making lunch. I was busy so I did not pick up. I figured if it was important, she would text. Only for her to later text and say she was craving a particular food. I was shook. You were about to interrupt my whole life to talk about your prenatal cravings!
Girl, people have more time, but you don’t!
If you spend time catching up with everyone who wants to catch up with you, you are giving time and strength away, and your chores are still waiting for you. Then when you see the mountain of work left, you then start to get offensive and wonder why your husband never helps out but seems to have a Ph.D. in ‘scatterology’, and why the kids won’t stop saying ‘Mummy, mummy, mummy’ approximately 12 times per nanosecond. But you see, the real problem is not your husband or the kids, it is that you have been careless with time. So by 7 pm, you have a backlog of work that should have been done at 2 pm, a home full of humans waiting for dinner and emotions that are spent.
But you could have flipped that switch by focusing first on family and housework and then when all or most are done and there is relative calm, you can then socialize.
Just to clarify, the focus is family, anything else that takes unhealthy amounts of time is a distraction.
Rise before the ‘house’
If you rise when everybody rises, you have no buffer to your day, rather everyone starts pulling you in every possible direction. Then you find yourself harried and frazzled and it is not even 9 am. If, however, you have risen one hour or so before everyone else rises, then you can plan your day before it gets pulled in various directions as you serve your family. You can spend that extra hour in quiet time and meditation, invest in a personal development activity like reading a book, watching a YouTube video or listening to a podcast. Basically something that makes you happy and is ‘you-centered’
You can also take time to plan out the day so you have a compass directing the course of the day as opposed to being casual and just letting the day go any way it wants to. If possible, take a bath and dress up – it puts you in the right mental frame for the day. Doing all of these also boosts your confidence and then you can take that into your day.
Don’t just say you cannot wake earlier or you are tired, fight to make this happen. You to free up time for yourself. Go to bed in good time to enable you rise early. And then when that alarm goes up, jump up, brush your teeth and take a cup of water to hydrate your body and start your day.
When other people awake and start to pull you in every direction, you still feel well-coordinated because of those hours or minutes you have invested in yourself first.
Use screen time wisely
This may not be the time to say ‘My kids don’t watch TV’ or using the more popular ‘trick’ of leaving your kids permanently in front of the screen all day so they don’t disturb you. This is rather the time to strike a balance and make the screen work for you. Use screen time, not only to entertain them, but also to educate them both academically and morally. You can be strategic about it. For instance, my kids had a season of constantly scattering their toys and the whole house. I got tired of always correcting, so I went on YouTube, downloaded several age-appropriate cartoons that explained the importance of cleanliness and the repercussions of dirtiness, and started to play it on the TV for them. They caught the lessons and now, you could not pay them to leave toys and books scattered around, they always clean up.
We also have kids’ videos that encourage physical activities like dance, exercises and more, so they are working their physical bodies too.
There are also faith-based cartoons we have for them. When I need them to really be on their own while I do some work uninterrupted, I put them on a timed ‘screen time’ and it is a win-win for both parties.
Other times, I engage them in other ways. There are many resources online that can help keep your kids engaged and sometimes, just giving them cardboards, A4 sheets, old textbooks, poster colors with a lot of pencils and crayons in a safe place and/or on a play mat or old wrapper or carpet can keep them really busy and creative.
Yes, there will be messes to clean up, but as you keep correcting and guiding them, it reduces.
I hope this helps you beat the overwhelm and keep your joy even with a full house of kids and hubby this #StayHome season. You can also read more here.
Cheers to thriving even while self-isolating.