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Family Life At Home
We get it. Lockdown has become a seemingly never-ending time. One in which kids think they're still on vacation, and we're left wondering when or if our household will ever go back to feeling "normal." Between constant interruptions from the kiddos and/or spouse, family life might be starting to feel like a pressure cooker.
One where everyone starts to feel a little disappointed and/or frustrated with how life at home actually IS at the moment. In this article, I share 5 ways we can reset and right-size family expectations. As well as how to find a bit more balance and a lot more joy during lockdown.
1. Our day starts with how we end our previous one. Lockdown or not
As you're drifting off to sleep, think about or share with your partner what went "right" today. When we're lying in bed at the end of a long day, lockdown or not, it's part of human nature for our mind to pinpoint and dwell on what went wrong that day.
Ease yourself out of this habit by instead asking yourself, "What are 2 or 3 things the fam and I did well today or brought a smile to my face?" Have a giggle with your partner or with yourself. Then drift off to sleep with a smile on your face and in your heart, knowing YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB!
2. Reset expectations
What are your expectations of life at home right now? Ok Mamas. We've all done it. Squeezed our eyes shut and wished like crazy we just had ourselves to worry about. A reprieve from little hands tugging on the pants we've been wearing for how many days straight now? Or the hubs/spouse saying, "Where's my …?" Or the teen demanding to know what's for dinner when you've barely beaten breakfast.
Take the time to ask yourself: How am I doing, really?
Talk about expectations with your partner and kids, and then perhaps reset what you expect of yourself and them during lockdown. Talk about the fact that being in lockdown for this seemingly endless amount of time is HARD. Share what "hard" means for you. Then ask your child how this feels for them. Your home health and family life depend on being open with each other and working out what's important and not.
Ask yourself, does your house have to be and clean and tidy as it was pre-lockdown? Do you really need to cook every meal and clean up afterward to the point of things being spotless? How often does the vacuuming need doing, the bathroom cleaned, or other home care jobs really need to be done to feel ok at the moment?
What can you let go of and ask for help with or do differently, so you can go to bed each night with a lighter heart and sleep well?
3. Find balance for yourself & recuperate
The happiness and well-being of family life starts with the happiness and well-being of us, as parents. Particularly Mama. The more grounded and centred WE are, the more we're able to be present and not rocked by the emotions of toddlers, tweens, and teens.
Having a morning routine, one that's just for you does wonders for finding balance. And yes, especially now! Now is not the time to think focusing on you is not possible, or it's being selfish. The reality is your home health and family life depends on you and your personal care.
A morning routine can be taken before everyone else gets up. Or, if that's not possible, discuss the timing with your spouse and/or children. If your partner works from home too, talk with them about when you can have 30mins to yourself at the beginning of the day. Sit down with your child or kids and explain to them how important this is to you.
At the same time, work out what family rituals you might also want to create (see below) to generate more fun and good times during quarantine.
Now, back to you, Mama. The more YOU think of your morning routine as something sacred, the more the rest of the fam will too. Things you might want to focus on include:
- Journaling – or writing out the feelings you desire to have more of that day.
- A meditation practice – grab an App to help, such as Headspace Reading part of an inspirational book (such as "Joy Fixes for Weary Parents" by Erin Leyba, or a novel you've been dying to get stuck into)
- A quick workout (check out Holly Dolke's moves, free on YouTube – she gave birth to her first child late last year and is now back providing quick and effective classes that are under 10mins long!) or a yoga/pilates practice (with my fave yoga Youtuber Boho Beautiful)
Making the time to do any of these will set you up for the day and give you the calm and headspace to keep going.
And what if I can't get a morning routine in? Gift yourself an Epsom salt bath at the end of the day, after the kiddos have gone to bed.
At the very least, make sure you're getting a daily break. Whether or not family walks or exercising together is a thing for you, get out on your own for a walk without the tribe. At a minimum, make 10 mins in the fresh air, by yourself, in the garden/balcony a "parenting and self-care" non-negotiable.
Looking for more tips on how to simplify things right now? Check out our One Simple Change ideas.
4. Create fun family memories at home with new weekly rituals
Lockdown doesn't have to feel like Groundhog Day. We get to choose how each day plays out and the memories we'll look back on. Of course, it's difficult to think like this when our toddler is having their fifth meltdown of the morning, or our older kiddos are fighting over who gets the device next. But inspiration need only be a Google click away.
Here are some ideas that can make any day of the week feel special:
- Taco Tuesday
- Fajita Friday
- Dance Party Friday Night
- Movie night
- Home Olympic Championships
- Boardgame championship weekend
Or how about saving that afternoon slump with a dress-up afternoon tea party with home-baked cake, finger sandwiches, and juice poured into champagne flutes?
Another idea I love is to create a rainbow jar of "Things We're Going to Do After Lockdown."
Each time one of your kiddos wishes they could do something they can't due to lockdown, write it down on a colourful slip of paper and add it to a jar. Small but meaningful things, such as seeing their grandparents. Or something bigger such as going to a trampoline park or go-karting.
Then once life opens up again, have fun taking turns grabbing a slip of paper from the treat jar. This is a great way to help manage your child's disappointment. As they can see their wishes multiplying into a multi-coloured treat jar instead of completely disappearing.
5. Ask for help
Ask, ask and ask again for HELP. Team-work is what helps us keep our sanity during this time. No matter your child's age, they need to understand this is not a vacation for you. Again, talk to them about it. Part of our parenting role is to help them see things from our perspective too. Yet we often assume our children "just get it" and should know we need their help.
Lockdown continues to be a new daily situation for all of us. The best way to get through any new situation is to openly talk and share with our children where we might be struggling. And with our example, encouraging them to do the same. Like any uncomfortable situation, this is a critical time to be strengthening our communication muscle and helping our kids build theirs.
Keep perspective. This one’s important. This too shall pass. And no matter how much we might be thinking we’re having a hard day, there is always someone else doing it harder.
I also choose to make this time easier on myself and my kids by not tuning into the news.
Remember, every day we get a do-over. So, if today wasn't one of your best, close your eyes, inhale deeply, and start over – one breath at a time.
Perhaps inhaling: I am so very grateful for the life I have. And exhaling: And I am good at doing hard things.
What new daily or weekly rituals have you and your family created during this time? Please share your ideas below – your idea could be just the thing someone else needs to hear today to keep smiling.