We can’t deny the fact that as parents, we love our children with all our hearts. Having said that, there’s also nothing wrong with taking time off for ourselves — which can be pretty hard to do under normal circumstances, but we do get small opportunities for it when we go to work, when the kids are at school, and even the occasional night out with friends while the kids are with their grandparents.
But the COVID-19 quarantine seems to have taken all these away, leaving us parents, quarantined at our homes with our kids. So aside from worrying over the pandemic, we also have to keep the kids busy and engaged, keep our homes from falling into disarray, ensure that we have enough food and supplies, and keep up with our work responsibilities. This is admittedly rough, but we have to cope right? If you feel like you’re going insane, then might we suggest that you carve some time for self-care as well? If you’re clueless how to do so while cooped up with your kids, here are a few tips:
Maximize your room
Having everyone at home all the time does not mean that you cannot set aside space for yourself. If possible, you can set your room as off-limits for your kids — offering you a space wherein you can maintain a sense of autonomy and control. If you live in a small space, you can set “safe spaces” at certain hours. For example, you get your bedroom from 3 to 4 pm, while your husband can enjoy it from 4 to 5 pm, and the kids can access it for the remaining hours. Maximize your 1-hour (or even more!) breaks — use it to do things that you enjoy and can relax you. Read a new book, watch that new K-drama, video call your friends to catch up. You’ll be surprised how talking to another person about something else aside from Disney or nursery rhymes can lift your spirits.
Take turns with your partner
Now is the best time to share the domestic load and childcare duties with your partner. Take turns watching the kids, especially if one has a work-related call. Take turns cooking and washing dishes. Also, ensure that you give each other a bit of time to relax without the kids.
If you have it, make the most of your outdoor space
Not everyone has a garden or outdoor space, so if you’re one of the lucky souls who do, then this is the time to use it to its fullest. Try to spruce it up and make it as inviting as much as you can. You can set up beach toys and inflatables and put out their bikes and let your kids loose in your garden, while you can chill inside or in your garden chairs with your coffee. You can also give them sidewalk chalk (or even a broken piece of pottery or paso) for them to draw. Aside from a few minutes of chill for you and outdoor play for your kids, the time spent outdoors will boost all of you mentally and do everyone good.
Wake up early or stay up late
Setting your alarm an hour or so earlier before your child wakes up can afford you a few minutes of solitude with your hot morning coffee. This time can also allow you to get your bearings and set your tasks for the day before you get caught in the whirlwind of your kids.
However, if you’re a night owl, then you can also opt to stay up late after tucking your kids to bed. You can then use this time to finish all your tasks and recharge.
Set a daily quiet time
If you have younger kids, you can use their nap time to unwind for an hour or even two. For older kids, you can discuss with them the concept of quiet time for all — which means that each family member can do something on their own for a set time each day. For older kids, this can be doing pre-assigned worksheets, reading on their own, or even any hobby that they enjoy. And the same goes for you too.
During this time, screens can be OK
Yes, we’ve heard about the dangers of screen time again and again, but during this stressful and uncertain time, let’s go easy on each other, please. However, be sure to set a maximum time allowed for them to zone out on their screens and try to monitor their activities as much as possible. But stop it with the mom guilt. Please.
Do an at-home date night
Aside from setting time for yourself, be sure to set aside quality time with your partner as well. Movies and a dinner out is out of the question right now, but you can still have a home date night. You can set it once the kids are asleep — have a light dinner and enjoy a movie on Netflix. Use this time to reconnect as well.
Yes, we’re grateful that we can spend this time with our loved ones, but we also cannot deny that personal time and self-care are also necessary for our well-being. We’re sure that before long, you may find your unique ways of coping aside from the aforementioned tips, but if you don’t always remember that this time too, shall pass. And at the end of it, we’ll still be glad that we spent all this time with our kids and with ourselves.