My daughter is in the other room on Zoom learning from a third grade teacher she's never met in person. She interacts with fellow students who seem more adaptive to the changes happening in the world than most adults I know. My one-year-old son is napping, and I’m working at the dining room table, myself learning how to maneuver through this new world. We’re all living in a year that’s much different than what we imagined when the ball dropped in New York on January 1, 2020.
Changing with the World
The world and the people in it will forever be different. I keep hearing the word “unprecedented.” Sometimes I feel irked that everyone is using the same term to describe the times we’re experiencing, but it’s true! It is unprecedented. Very few people on our planet have ever had an experience like this before. Every country in the world is affected. Our kids are learning a new way of living without face-to-face interaction with each other, which will no doubt either make them appreciate each other more or somewhat socially awkward when they do finally come together.
All these changes impact our stress levels and affect our sleep. Working from home and ensuring your kids are getting the best education they can while they work independently through remote learning is challenging! You end up worrying about deadlines, trying to fit in Zoom conferences hoping kids don’t sneak around in the background, and you feel anxious about whether or not your kid is keeping up with their school work the way their teacher wants them to.
The most important thing to remember is this is not forever because nothing lasts forever. Physicians and experts will find treatments to lessen COVID’s severity, kids will return to school, a vaccine will eventually come out, and the world will adjust to life with the new coronavirus on our planet. Knowing "this too shall pass" doesn't make it any easier while we're in it, does it? Life still goes on and finding a way to keep moving forward is what we have to do, but how? Well, I don't pretend to have all the answers on the "how" of adapting and staying sane through this, but I would like to share what I've discovered works for me. Because I know I'm not alone out there and it's my hope that you can utilize some of these tips to help you as much as they've helped me.
Make a list. When I have a lot to do or a lot to remember, I write it down. Just having everything listed on a piece of paper where I can see it and then be able to cross off tasks is so beneficial. I once read that construction workers have the most satisfying jobs in the world because they visually see their project’s completion. Writing down what you need to do and then crossing it off when it’s complete can have the same satisfying effect. There’s nothing like looking at the list you made for yourself that morning with lines through every word to make you feel like you accomplished something. It sounds like such a small thing, but it really does work.
Take Care of Yourself
Take a deep breath. Imagine the world around you is silent. Stress is non-existent and you accept that the thoughts flowing through your stream of consciousness constantly interrupt each other. Take your worries, gather them up in your mind, and organize them. What do I need to get done today and how can I ensure it gets done? What can I leave for tomorrow? Is it the end of the world if something does not get done today?
Exercise. I know this one is difficult, especially if you have to work while the kids are learning or napping to be able to get anything done. However, 10 minutes of listening to music and doing a few squats can work wonders. Everyone knows how beneficial exercise can be, so I won’t dwell on this too long, but if you can find even the smallest amount of time to relieve some of your stress, the dopamine will flow and life will feel just a little more put together.
One of the most difficult things for some people to do is accept change. I understand. It can be heartbreaking, scary, lonely, and unnerving when something ends. But it’s hugely important to remember that good things can often come from change. You learn most about yourself when you're forced to adapt to a circumstance. Your strength and courage can rear itself during times of struggle and you learn what you’re really made of. Everyone wants to protect themselves and their families, so there is a feeling of necessity during a pandemic to adapt quickly. It’s important to acclimate, but to do so in a healthy manner. Pay attention to yourself. Listen to your body and how you’re feeling and adjust your attitude and way of life accordingly. That will ensure you grow and learn during the process.
Get Some Sleep
I always feel off when I don’t get enough sleep. Handling remote learning with kids while working from home can increase your stress level and deeply impact sleep habits (the amount of time one falls asleep and stays asleep). Decreasing stress will undoubtedly improve sleep. The best possible way to ensure you get the best night’s rest is to relax and unwind during a night time routine. This doesn’t have to happen over a long, drawn out period either. Get ready for bed without a lot of lights on. Try to keep it dim. Wash your face, brush your teeth, put some lotion on your hands and lay in bed. Once I did this enough times, I felt like I was starting to get tired during the routine. If while you lie in bed you have the ability to listen to soothing music specifically made to help you slumber for a bit, try it.
Care for Each Other
I hope these tips help you in some way. It’s these times, when we’re all experiencing the same changes in life, that it’s important to look after one another. Don’t forget your neighbor feels similar if not the same as how you feel. Granted, some people are handling it better than others; however, there’s no one on the planet who’s not affected by this. If you take care of yourself and listen to your mind and body, you’ll be able to get through this pandemic a bit easier. And really, that’s what we all want to do.