I read earlier this week (sorry lost the source) that about 3/4 of all Americans are currently under some form of “stay at home” order. What I’m noticing is that this is impacting the people in my life differently depending on their circumstances. Some people are self-isolating, alone with just their pet and TV for company, others are at home with one or two older kids or adults while still others are sharing their house with immediate family, including small children.
I happen to be in that last category: we no longer have childcare and so all four of us are here now 24/7. I spend my weekdays working from home while my husband cares for our two small children. After my work day is complete, we switch and he takes some much needed rest time. What we are finding is that it is crucially important that each person in the house have their own time and space for self-care.
I’ve seen a common pattern with other parent-friends of mine during this “quarantine” at home: parents fall into a routine of always supporting others and not taking the time they need for self-care. Many of us are still working a full time job and now with schools, daycares and other kid-activities canceled, we go from telecommuting right into caring for and educating our children. While in some ways this is great and is giving us an opportunity to spend much needed time with our families, it’s also important to take some time each day to find our own space for self-care.
I’m always an advocate for self-care and recovery time at all times but especially during this stressful, uncertain time, self-care has to be a priority if we want to get through this with our sanity and relationships in tact. My older brother used to have an expression for the little fights and tiffs that family members tend to get into when they are spending a lot of time together: snappy turtles. We noticed it on vacation – when we were sharing a hotel room or a car all the time – we’d become more testy with each other and the “snappy turtles” would make their appearance.
Most of us know that taking some time away, getting yourself a bit of space helps smooth those rough relationship edges. It may seem hard to ask your family for a break to allow you to go for a long walk or read a book on your own but in a way, you are giving them the gift of a calmer, more rested housemate. I also try to encourage my partner to take breaks as well, letting him know that I support him getting the recovery time that he needs.
We all need a bit of space and it can be tough to find these days. I encourage anyone reading this to find a bit of recovery time and space in your days, whether it’s a walk outside or just listening to your favorite podcast on your own, those moments are like breaths of air, bringing much needed oxygen to your mental health during a tough time.