Lots of us are struggling right now. We are re-prioritizing our lives, realizing that our health is number one, and many of us are looking around at the pace in which we were living and doing our best to embrace a simpler versions of our lives. Through taking walks, baking, and coloring with the kids, many of us are realizing that there is a silver lining as we are forced to hit the “life reset” button.
However, many women who I speak with are still pushing themselves internally, even as the external pressures let up. These women tell me they are struggling to manage their own stress as they are charged with taking care of others. I get it. I’m trying to oversee my four kids’ online schooling, maneuver life with the hubby at home (my husband’s a teacher) and manage my online business. While I’m grateful to be able to work over phone, it is still hard to find a balance when we are all living with an undercurrent of uncertainty that plays on our psyche and even our sleep patterns.
The question remains: how do I effectively coach my clients when I’m personally going through the same stressors as my clients? My answer is to tap into our shared strengths, learn from each other, and start walking the talk of what I have been teaching my clients for years. It is time to follow our own bliss versus inundating ourselves with shoulds. It’s a time to look in the mirror and say I’m worthy of doing whatever I feel like doing and that is okay.
1. We Should Be Homeschooling Heroes
My best friend (a teacher) homeschooled her two kids and loved it; she’s my homeschooling hero. But guess what? I’m not her and that is okay. I have hardly looked at my four kids’ assignments; a success in our house is just getting up in time for the online morning bell. My “no video games during the school week” rule went out the window when I realized that boys talking through the game right into my living room was my kids’ only social outlet and my only time to get things done. I reminded myself that this is a pandemic; parenting can change and I can change it right back when our country is healed. I’m sure that my best friend is homeschooling her kids much better than I am, but it’s a challenge even for her. I’m giving myself a little more slack—okay a lot more slack—and doing the best that I can do. Our kids are stuck at home staring at screens that we have been telling them to limit. If this time at home is not going as smoothly as you would like it to, just do your best and revert to what works for you. I am never going to learn the new math, but I can rekindle the tradition of tucking my youngest in with a bedtime story: something that I convinced myself I was too busy for and now have re-embraced.
2. We Should Be Decluttering Queens
As a life coach, one of the topics I’m most passionate about is decluttering. Why? Because so often there is a direct correlation between how we manage our physical environments and what is going on with us emotionally. I love Marie Kondo’s book; however, you might pick up every article of clothing in your closet and never “feel joy.” I say, let go of perfection and only do what you’re drawn to do. Sometimes taking a small action like organizing desk clutter, can lower anxiety. That being said, if you write a list of things that need tidying and then decide to binge watch Ozark instead, allow yourself to do that. Trust yourself to know what is best for you right now and do only what you feel up to doing. Reorganizing and donating can make us feel too raw when we are stressed emotionally and financially, so tread gently and complete decluttering projects in a way that feels right to you. If you wake up inspired to clean out a closet or reorganize a kitchen drawer, than go for it; if you don’t, that is okay too. It’s important that we listen to our bodies and do what we are drawn to doing. One of my clients who is struggling financially right now said that she wasn’t in the purging mood because it brought up her spending guilt. Instead, she decided to do the opposite of purging her things. She had fun using up all of her half-used shampoo bottles and putting all of her face creams in a little container to use up before buying new ones. She said that some of her “decluttering” projects are teaching her to be a more mindful shopper. Cleaning and organizing are areas where she is happy to embrace change instead of viewing them as boring chores.
3. We Should Be Crossfit Goddesses
My husband’s loves Crossfit, and guess what? He is still working out religiously. However, just because we are having a crisis doesn’t mean I have to start liking Crossfit, too. Nothing against crossfitters (they all look great); my point is, if you love exercising. then find a way to keep some version of it up during this time. Perhaps that means you become an outside runner or look for a online yoga app to tide you over. If you are like me, you may choose to do online Pilates class at home in your pajamas, your kids running in and out of the room saying, “Mom?!” and know that this too shall pass. I’m not a cold weather walker, so I have given myself permission to walk when I feel like it and not be peer-pressured by the couples jogging by my home in matching workout gear. I have found that a slow walk with some audible books is more enjoyable to me than a run. So, if you were gym rat, have at it! But if you weren’t, plug into a podcast and take a stroll at a pace that works for you. Who knows, maybe you choose an activity that you can embrace even as we move forward into a new normal. I might become more of a leisure walker than I ever was, and I have a feeling that lots of us will be strolling to the store more than we ever were before.
4. We Should Be News Junkies
Sure, we feel hopeful when we read that social distancing is slowing down the virus, and that is a great thing. But so often, clients tell me that they watch the news and feel much worse. One client who is struggling with the virus impacting her immediate family said that she hates all the “corona jokes” that she’s receiving from people who she hasn’t shared her struggles with. This was an “aha” moment for me; while people’s intentions were good, not everyone is in the same place and a little sensitivity and social distancing from the news and social media might be just what the doctor ordered. Is there a way you can stay informed but shelter yourself from media that leaves you feeling worse? Perhaps you give yourself a few minutes of news and then give yourself permission to watch one of your favorite movies or re-read a favorite novel that provides a much needed happy escape from the doom and gloom.
5. We Should Be Social Media Saints
Think about who we are missing and how to stay connected to those people. Let go of relationships that were draining. If scrolling through social media leaves you feeling jazzed, energized, and connected, then go for it. I am finding that when I am working on something I’m passionate about, social media takes a healthy back burner. My close friend and I wrote a fiction book for fun (yes, we are looking for beta readers) and we found that neither of us engaged in social media when we were writing the book over a period of a two months. And guess what? We hardly missed a thing. So, if you are a social media junkie, then enjoy; however, you may be better off scrolling just long enough to find that relative who you know would enjoy a card right now, or that friend who you haven’t really talked to recently. Pick up the phone and give them an “I’m just thinking of you” call, knowing that you are pretty likely to catch them at home.
6. We Should Be Short Order Chefs
If less trips to the store mean less creativity, then that is okay. As mom of four kids, I have had to be a better meal planner than I ever was before. I have hid cereal in the back of my car so my boys don’t finish it in one day. I have used up our soups by serving them with grilled cheese or simple homemade French bread pizzas, and I have dusted off the crockpot and made Paula Dean’s crockpot mac and cheese. I’ve been okay with taco Tuesdays being taco Tuesday and Thursdays. Personally, I learned that a little planning can go a long way; while I’m looking forward to eating out at a restaurant again, home-cooked food can be simple and fun to prepare.
If you want to lean into the silver lining and learn alongside your kids, you may consider starting a new workout routine or become a meal planning wiz. These are noble ways to use the pause. But, if you are anxious, not sleeping great, and only have the energy to serve split pea soup and do Pilates in your pajamas, then there is no harm in you being you!
I jokingly titled this article we should get rid of “should” to exemplify that this is a time in our lives when we can slow down, reset, and decide to listen to ourselves. Oftentimes, the “experts” give out contradictory information and we resort to listening to that all knowing voice inside us that has our greater good at its core. I share this information with you in hopes that it will spark some ideas of things that you told yourself you would do when you had the time and assess if those “to do” list items and projects were actually shoulds. Then, you can happily decide to follow your bliss, do what you want with your downtime, and ultimately move forward after the quarantine with doing more of what you love and less of what you don’t.