Wondering how you’ll survive a Coronavirus family quarantine without losing your mind? I hear you.
As Coronavirus social distancing measures cancel school and sports, play dates and activities, working in offices and lunch dates for 6 weeks or more, it’s 100% normal to be anxious NOT ONLY about the health and wellness of loved ones and the financial and operational stability of our society, BUT ALSO about how you’ll mentally, emotionally and logistically cope with days and weeks of family “togetherness”.
Here’s the truth: A lot of us rely on schedules and outside stimulation (and often alcohol) as a distraction from the relentless energy and stimulation of children and the monotony of housework and home.
Right now alcohol sales are surging right along hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
But I promise you – drinking your way through weeks of a family quarantine won’t help you get through it without losing your shit.
It actually will do just the opposite. Using drinking as a coping mechanism will just add a headache or a hangover to your hours of together time with your children. It will also increase anxiety and depression during an already stressful time.
There’s a better way.
Here’s what will actually help…
Take care of yourself FIRST.
Get real about what YOU need to be sane and happy every day, to protect your emotional health and sanity.
What will help you take care of your body and your mind?
What touchstones do you need to use as milestones and markers in your day?
Write down what you need and share it with your family. Allow each family member to do the same. They will feel heard and feel that their needs are being honored. This is a marathon – not a sprint.
- I need a family schedule – everyone needs to shower, get dressed, tidy rooms, breakfast.
- I can’t have my kids in pajamas watching TV until 11 am everyday while I nag them. That’s a recipe for disaster.
- Your kids need to know what to expect each day. It helps them feel safe. Transitions for them are hard – so if they know it’s coming – changes will be handled with more acceptance and calm.
- I need fresh air and exercise. Everyone is less stir crazy with some outside time everyday, maybe twice a day. A walk. A run. Wandering the garden. Do some weeding.
- I need alone time to decompress. I call it Mom “office time” and I let my 5 year old watch TV. Plan it. I need this break without guilt – so I put it on the “what I need everyday” list. I rotate 1 (or 1.5 hours) of “mom’s office time” for 30 minutes of kid play time.
Don’t be a hero or a martyr. But DO set yourself up for success.
The best thing to do is to create a routine.
- SET A SCHEDULE. What are your working hours? Make a list with your kids of all the things they could do so they have activities while you are working. If its homework or screen time it’s okay. You don’t need to be the entertainment all day every day.
- GET DRESSED. Get showered. Feel alive and awake.
- SET UP SOME SPACE FOR YOURSELF. This way you can set up a little but of an escape from work while at home – or alone time
- MOVE YOUR BODY. That could mean taking walks, home workouts
- LIMIT YOUR NEWS CONSUMPTION. Read the news, no video, and only twice a day. Stay away from any 24 x 7 cable news channels, interviewing anyone who will talk and take you through minute by minute worst case scenarios. This is not about putting your head in the sand. This is about protecting your emotional health.
- GROUND YOURSELF PHYSICALLY IN WHAT’S RIGHT AROUND YOU. What is real that you can hear, touch, smell or observe? You can do this with your breath, the sunshine, the birds, the flowers starting to bud. Realize that right now, in your home, there are people to hug and animals to cuddle. There are warm blankets and sweet movies. There are meditations on Insight Timer. There are really good books to read. We’re huddling up and cocooning ourselves.
- PLAN SOME MEALS. You don’t want to scramble every night for dinner when you’re all tired. Take 5 minutes in the morning to decide on dinner. And lower the bar for what this looks like. To make it special – try having a candle light dinner one night a week. The kids will think it’s fun.
- PRACTICE GRATITUDE. By yourself, or with your family, take a moment in the morning or in the evening to write down 3 things you’re grateful for. This helps immensely and helps you notice the beautiful and small things around you.
- START A SMALL & EASY FAMILY DOCUMENTARY PROJECT. Take a “Picture of the Day” and save it in the album. It’s hard to believe (I know) but years from now you’ll probably want look back at how you spent all that time quarantined with your loved ones during this moment in history.
- GET YOURSELF A TREAT – EVERY DAY. This is one of the best things I learned in early sobriety. And alcohol is not a treat. A cookie. A cup of coffee in the sunshine. A good book. A nap. A magazine. A movie. Cuddling. Dancing to a song from college. A video call with a high school friend.
- TAP INTO YOUR EMOTIONS – AND HONOR THEM. Every morning take a moment to ask “What do I need today?”. Are you lonely? Stiff? Anxious? Bored? Resentful? Stir Crazy? Solve for that specific emotion. Don’t push all of the emotions down with alcohol. You deserve to have your needs met.
At the end of the day, focus on what’s possible for you. Don’t freak out about being home and just do what you can.
If you yell at your kids or break down crying or throw this advice out the window and watch cable news for 8 hours straight – just give yourself grace and start again tomorrow. And know there is always a way to do a small act to take care of yourself each day. Prioritize self care.
Psychology Today does a really good job of describing, in practical terms, what self-care means.
Self care means finding a way to decompress throughout your day, not just when you leave work. What is it you do to rest your mind during and after a work day? What helps you tune out the noise?
Self care means knowing who you are and your limits. Self care means recognizing when you are doing more than you are used to handling and trying to figure out what can be done to slow down.
Self care means making sure that you’re well fed. Do you eat well—does what you eat provide the energy you need to function? Do you take time to eat meals at work and do you take time to have snacks when your body requires intermittent food during the work day?
Self care means taking time to get to know you better. Self care means learning to recognize your own temperament and trying to prepare for your personal limits.
Self care means identifying what you enjoy doing and what’s fun for you and make a serious effort to integrate it into your day or, at the very least, your week. Make it a habit to plan something to look forward to everyday and that doesn’t have to be complicated.
Self care means knowing how to debrief from a day’s work. That might mean walking home from work to clear your head, driving in silence or listening to music to help transition from work to home.
Self care means feeding your spiritual self. That might take the form of meditating, praying, communing with nature by a walk in a park, observing a sunset or sunrise, practicing gratitude, reading or listening to something inspirational.
Self care means giving some thought to changing a difficult work situation. We know best what we need and what we can deal with. Is there anything that can be done to make your work somewhat less stressful? Think about whether changes can be made to your work environment. Are you okay with where you sit and do your work? Are you working unsustainable hours and is their some end in sight? It might be a matter of approaching a supervisor with things that you think may make your work more pleasant such as changing where you sit or changing whether you take an earlier lunch or later start time.
If you’re interested in one-on-one support, guidance, connection and resources through private coaching, I’d love to talk to you. Contact me for a free 30-Minute Discovery Call. No pressure. We can chat to see if coaching is a good fit for you.
About The Author
I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life, mindset, sobriety and success coach.
I work with successful women who are ready to drink less and live more.
If you’re reevaluating your relationship with alcohol and have decided that drinking isn’t working in your life anymore I’d love to talk to you.
You can find more about my work and private coaching, as well as additional support resources at hellosomedaycoaching.com.