This time of social distancing and isolation can bring on a wide range of emotions, including a heightened sense of anxiety and stress.
This can be especially true for families with young children, and children with special needs who rely on structure and consistency for comfort.
While we are living in close quarters with our loved ones, and with stress and the potential for meltdowns on the rise, it’s important not only for our children’s needs to be taken care of, but also for mom and dad to be sure they are taking care of themselves, as well.
So what can you do? How can you prioritize self-care in this time of a pandemic, when the world feels a bit wonky and upside down? Consider these ideas.
11 Ways That Caregivers Can Prioritize Self-Care:
Yoga, running, shooting hoops, exercise videos, jumping rope — when it comes to exercise, the sky’s the limit. Not only does exercise give you time alone, but it also has tremendous health benefits, such as increasing endorphins, reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes, improving mental and physical health, and helping with sleep and weight control.
2. Video Chat with Family and Friends
While we may be missing close contact with our loved ones outside of our immediate family, there are still many ways we can stay connected. Try scheduling weekly online gatherings with family and friends. Make it silly — have people wear their favorite hat or flower-print shirt. They say that laughter is the best medicine, so have fun with it!
3. Pick Up a New or Forgotten Hobby
Have your knitting needles been sitting in a bin for months? When was the last time you picked up your paint brush? This is the perfect time to brush up on some of your old hobbies, or if you are feeling adventurous, try something new.
4. Read a Book
If you’ve read all of your books, consider doing a swap with a friend or neighbor. Have them place one of their favorite books on their porch and you can pick it up and replace it with one of yours.
5. Go on a Daily Walk
Schedule a time every day to get out and get moving. While you are walking, listen to your favorite music or podcast for a little extra fun.
Breathe in. Breathe out. There is something about being still in silence that is incredibly fulfilling, both physically and mentally. If it’s hard to find quiet, consider going outdoors to meditate while your spouse watches the kids, or have your spouse take the kids outside while you stay inside to work on focused breathing.
7. Wake Up Early
Sometimes the only time for peace, quiet and to get things done is in the early hours before everyone has risen. This may be hard for you night owls, but for those of you who are able, waking early in the morning can be a very peaceful and productive time.
8. Go for a Drive
Hop in the car. Crank your favorite tunes. Roll down the windows and let your spirits soar while you put the pedal to the metal — going the speed limit, of course.
9. Get Some Vitamin D
Find some time to sit outside by yourself, if only for 10 minutes. Soak up the Vitamin D and enjoy a few minutes of relaxation. It’s good for the soul.
10. Have a Date Night
After the kids have gone down for the night, consider making a special late night meal together, play a game, sit on the back porch, or listen to music together. If you are feeling really adventurous, try learning something new with each other, like playing an instrument or learning a new language.
11. Set a Family Schedule
Consistency can be incredibly important, especially for families with children who have special needs. When everyone knows what to do and at what time, things may run a bit smoother. Consider incorporating something for you in that schedule (i.e. mommy reads for 30 minutes while you watch a show). That way you have it built into the day, and your child is expecting that time of quiet.
Every individual and family is different: What works for one, may not work for another. Find what works best for you, and give yourself grace. Try easing into whatever it is you decide to do. If you plan to read every day for a half an hour and only get to it three times a week, celebrate those three days. The last thing we all need is to heap guilt on top of the other feelings we may be experiencing.
Just take it one day at a time. These days can be hard, and just like we teach our children to be kind, we need to be kind to ourselves. And remember, this too shall pass.