All bets are off. There is a global pandemic, and we're all the new kids on the block when it comes to knowing what we're "meant" to be doing at any given moment.
We're learning how to work from home whilst also parenting at the same time. We're learning that it now takes approximately 1-3 hours to do supermarket shopping depending on weather, queues, and how many groceries you buy that you need to wash (if you're doing this).
We're learning that there is no "right way" of really doing anything right now, and that this is just one long "make it work" moment.
I started out feeling a lot of guilt and pressure. I felt like I "should" be doing more fun and interesting activities with my son. All these other amazing mothers out there seemed to have it all going on as far as home science experiments and cardboard creations went, and I was just barely making it through breakfast in one piece!
I felt like I "should" be doing more online work, making resources, marketing my business and somehow generating income now that I cannot physically go into schools to work with people. I felt bombarded by people on LinkedIn, twitter and other platforms who were making themselves available to people for support with a million-and-one "how to work from home" videos, and I was only just managing to shift from pyjamas into day clothes by 11am!
I felt like I "should" be using this time to work more on my poetry, start that novel I've been meaning to write, get back into painting, and practise the piano, like it seems so many other people are managing to do.
But when the initial adrenaline ran out, and I hit a slump in energy, motivation and eating habits, I took stock and decided to be kind. To myself.
Self compassion is not self-indulgence.
I decided if I was going to be any good to anyone else in my house, then I needed to be kind to myself and just let go of all the "shoulds".
Maybe my body was telling me I needed that extra long nap. And one extra hour of tv today was not going to wreck my child for life. I let myself have that biscuit, and have a day off thinking about work. And you know what?
Letting go of all the "shoulds" and just doing what I feel like I could and can today, means I actually felt like writing this post today. The fact I ate that extra biscuit the other day, did not meant that I now have a "pack a day" habit of Oreos.
The sun's out today, and I went for a walk up the hill while my son played in parallel with the neighbour's kid across the fence (each in their own yards but chatting away happily).
Each hour in COVID time feels like a full day BC (before COVID), so I'm just taking each one as they come.
Remember that feeling of being the new kid at school? Or being new at work? That feeling of being vulnerable, not knowing what to do or how to do it?
Welcome to physical isolation, or "lockdown", during a world-wide pandemic.
We're all the "new kid" right now.
Today is officially Day 1 of the COVID-19 "lockdown" in New Zealand.
Many people are learning how to work from home for the first time. While also parenting full-time. While also learning how to be a home-school teacher. While also working out how to negotiate supermarket shopping whilst staying at least 2 metres away from anyone. While also trying to remember everything you touched while you were out so you can disinfect it later. While also learning how to get along with people in your family and not tear each other to pieces after spending 24/7 with them... let's just say, things feel pretty messy.
Right now we all feel vulnerable.
This is so normal in times of change. And change takes time. This feeling will be sticking around for a while yet!
As one of my favourite authors and speakers, Brene Brown says,
When we give up being new and awkward, we stop growing. And when we stop growing, we stop living.
We are all going to do a heck of a lot of growing in the coming weeks. And if there's one thing I've realised pretty quickly, it's that discomfort is the new normal.
This time is going to bring us a lot of New Kid Moments (NKM). When you feel that anxiety bubbling up, or your temper start to fray, you're probably having a NKM. Take a slow, deep breath. Tell yourself, "I'm having a New Kid Moment." Be kind to yourself. You'll see it in your family members too - uncharacteristic behaviour, greater levels of stress, shorter tempers, more tears...
To take your power back, all the latest and greatest research tells us to name our feelings in order to tame them (watch Dan Siegel's video here). Our natural inclination is to try and bury or ignore feelings we don't enjoy. But by naming what you're feeling, talking about it with others, you can then start to re-frame things, or think about what you might be able to do in order to tackle that feeling.
And remember, All Behaviour is Communication (ABC). When your kids, your partner, your family members are acting up or acting differently than usual, what might they be telling you they're feeling underneath those actions? Check in with each other. Love and connection is key right now.