Some of you read my article “Self-Care 101” in the spring addition of Focus on Artesia. It was cute right? Fun and light. So very pre COVID-19. Well people, times have changed. A LOT. We’re on day 1 of stay at home orders. No school, no toilet paper, limited social contact, no work for many of us. My self-care advice like swimming, group exercise, hanging out with your people in public is now prohibited. I’ve been home with my three wild boys for I don’t know, a million days now, and my self-care needs have changed dramatically.
Self-care quarantine tip numero uno – take a break from consuming information via social media. The memes are top notch right now, but Karen’s “expert” medical and political posts are just anxiety inducing. I find myself compulsively checking FB for …. What? An end to this weird time, to find that oil has jumped up to $50 a barrel, a sense of peace? News flash: ya ain’t gonna find what you’re looking for on social media. Put your phone down. Pretend the real adults have limited your screen time. Listen to an Audible instead. Go for a walk. Change out of your night pajamas and into your day pajamas.
Go outside. But just to your backyard because the rest of New Mexico is shut down. Make your kids pick up a five-gallon bucket of rocks. We live in the desert; rocks abound. Nothing like a combo of vitamin D and torturing your kids with a little manual labor. Plus, March’s weather is typically fantastic – sunny with gusty 40 mph winds. Okay, kidding. Self-care is about doing things that make you feel better. Proven fact though, your kids will get out from under your feet if you go outside and start pulling weeds. Then, when they find a way to entertain themselves, sprint to the other side of the house, plant yourself in a comfy chair with a tasty beverage (mimosa, hot toddy, gin and tonic – quarantine day drinking is the new coffee) and relax.
Only cook meals if you want to. Now is a great time for your children to learn to be pretend latchkey kids. They can figure out how to make a “hot ham and cheese” (my preferred latchkey meal as a kid) or how to boil water for some Ramen. Then if they start to burn the house down, you’ll be there to step in. My self-care routine has been to bake something delicious: Texas sheet cake, banana bread, brown butter cinnamon cookies and then eat it. ALL. In a day. Quarantine carbs still count but everyone will still be wearing sweat pants when we’re released back into the public. I might be chubby Karen, but so are you.
In all seriousness, helping others can be a great way to help yourself. In the spirit of helping local businesses and self-caring, order dinner to go. No need to stress about how to assemble the random food items you scrounged up at the grocery store into a real dinner. Artesians, local restaurants are delivering now! It’s our chance to pretend we live the big city life, help our cuisine curators, and have a guilt-free excuse to not cook.
Your house is not school. AND THAT IS OKAY! Y’all, these kids will be fine without testing for their 84 Accelerated Math objectives for a few weeks. Did your kid turn into a giant dummy during Christmas break? How about over the summer last year? No? I didn’t see any of you stressing that you couldn’t teach your kid fluent Mandarin over Thanksgiving. This is coming from an expert, okay? I used to be teacher and I homeschooled my oldest for a while. I know stuff. Let me say it again and then let yourself and your kids off the hook. THE KIDS WILL BE FINE.
If you just want something for the little twerps (I’m calling them twerps in the most loving way possible) to do so they’ll leave you and their siblings alone for just a few minutes, great! Let’s just call it for what it is then: something to occupy the many, many hours they’re home.
This pseudo-homeschool thing we have going on is a perfect time for kids to pursue things that ignite their interests. Your kid likes digging in the mud, or Legos, or girl stuff (that I know nothing about because #boymom) – awesome! Let those interests be a starting point for learning. It’s a more fluid way to teach than mandating an hour of worksheets and computer-based worksheets. Isn’t that what we all hate about school anyway? You can incorporate learning opportunities without making it a “thing”. Trick ‘em into doing math and science by baking together or building a bird house. Do horticulture: mow, fertilize, and identify the plants in your yard. Bring back pen pals. Learn some life skills that will stick with them. Love on them. Get to know your kids again. Let the siblings get to know each other again too. Let them play, and then go outside and play some more.
Moms need self-care but the littles do too. They sense that all the grown-ups are unnerved. They miss their teacher and routines and friends. Loosening the reigns is self-care for the whole fam.
For me, the most difficult part of the ‘Rona is the economic uncertainty. We’re a one income family and our income is almost wholly derived from the oil and gas industry. This industry is notoriously unpredictable. We’ve been through some lean times in the past but the economic forecast is looking worse than ever.
I’m an enneagram type 7, my core fear is going without. It’s an unconscious fear that motivates and directs a lot of my behavior. Self-care for me in this aspect is to plan, plan, plan. First, I prioritized all of our monthly expenses. Then I counted all of our money like Scrooge McDuck; definitely dramatic but worked as a self-soothing measure. I mandated a spending freeze. I divided our savings by our expenses and figured out how many months we’d have until we’re destitute. I found some sense of control. We have a plan, and that plan feels like a shield we can take to battle.
I’ve described my anxiety as a low-level hum that leaves me feeling constantly unsettled. Self-care is vital so that hum doesn’t escalate into a Pantera concert. My best self-care coping strategy is exercise. Since gyms are closed, you gotta go the workout at home route. It’s harder. You are the only one keeping yourself accountable. It’s easy to put off because who the heck knows what day it is anyway? All you have to do is just start. Just put on your running shoes. Or load your barbell. Running is free and if you aren’t that fast, it’s naturally socially distancing. Tons of gyms are posting at-home workouts on social media. Pinterest has pages and pages of body-weight exercise routines. You can do it!
Being socially distant doesn’t mean you have to be completely isolated. We’re so lucky to live in a time that allows for human interaction without the germs. Apps like Zoom and Houseparty can connect you with your people. Host a virtual book club. FaceTime your grandma. My kids are staying connected with their buddies by doing a Lego challenge and then videoing their creations and sending them to one another.
We’re going to get through this. Bonds are forged in times like these. We’re going to have a hard won “survival” story to tell the grandkids someday.
Source: Morgan Fox of Fox Family Travels
Catch Morgan’s Self-Care 101 article in the Spring edition of Focus on Artesia.