The pandemic was/is a period that saw every one of us, shunted out of our comfort zones into some sort of apocalyptic brave new world we’re still grappling with.
It was tough.
It still is tough, no more so for those of us who lost loved ones, became unwell ourselves, and as I did, suffered a miscarriage and subsequent rainbow baby pregnancy during this anxiety-enducing Plague-like blip in history.
According to the experts, the latest crisis alongside Covid 19, is a new pandemic: a mental health one, for our children as well us.
That’s why I’m trying to build strength and resilience in my family and I, wrapping myself and them in love and practising self-care as much as possible, be it daily meditation thanks to the free and transformative app, Insight Timer (there are lots of short meditations for children of all ages too particularly to help with insomnia), power walking for me (I’m clocking between 10-15k steps a day at 33 weeks pregnant) and more aerobic exercise for my sons.
The goal is to release as many endorphins, consistently, as possible.
I’ve bought a basketball hoop and boxing stand for my boys and will be choosing a trampoline for them shortly, something I know they will use all year round.
They both take music lessons, Oliver plays the piano and Xander, the violin, and they’re keen draughts and chess players. Xander is lucky to attend a chess club run at his school in collaboration with Eton College and has quickly picked up the game (beating us all in the process)!
We’ve also been baking, cooking and drawing together as much as possible (all happy-makers) as well as playing family favourites like Dobble, Snakes and Ladders and Guess Who. I mean who doesn’t love Guess Who! Who?! Hahaha.
Limiting tech use has also been a priority.
Children’s reliance on tech during the pandemic reached unprecedented levels as they were unable to connect with friends or even attend school in person, leading led to sleep problems and greater difficulty in them managing their emotions. You can read more on that in the guest post: What is the real impact of tech time for children by Edward Watson and Bradley Busch of Inner Drive (who offer research-based, practical and interactive student workshops and CPD courses, online and in schools).
We’re now 5 days into limiting tech during the week (the kids can watch TV, do their homework and read/research online) but gaming and chatting online is no longer allowed, with a couple of hours allocated to that on the weekend.
My youngest son, Xander, 9, never relied heavily on tech to start with but I was becoming increasingly worried about my 11 year old’s use. Within one evening offline, his mood had lifted and he’d transformed into a calmer, more content child. Miraculous.
I’ve been following suit too, trying to halve my worrying 50 hour week online to 25. Wish me luck!
I’ve also been trying to carve out more ‘me time’ to help combat pregnancy anxiety and boost my mood, something my therapist has been encouraging me to do. I’m putting my worries onto paper, organising my to-do list and prioritising fresh air and exercise every day, as well as reconnecting with my former passions.
Earlier this week I had a piano lesson after 25 years of not playing and I’m so glad I did as it brought me immense joy. I’d forgotten a lot of what I’d learnt all those years ago, despite exams and regular practise, but I was fast-tracked to Grade 2B so go me, right!!! The teacher proclaimed there is a concert pianist within me but I’m not sure about that!
On reflection, that piano lesson is a culmination of consistently pushing myself out of my comfort zone during the many lockdowns we endured which saw me picking up my paintbrushes again (I used to paint in oils and even exhibited once upon a time) and ditto with practising languages.
I am fluent in Greek and conversational in French but was deeply out of practise with both, and now feel far more confident thanks to books, apps and Zoom lessons I’ve embarked upon almost daily, during the past 18 months.
I feel grateful that my work was unaffected over this period thanks to it being mostly online but the time I saved not communting into London and Manchester allowed me to dig deep and discover long-forgotten loves helping me to understand myself and my needs more deeply.
I also took this opportunity to write the first draft of a comedy screenplay as well as a short children’s book for 7 year olds based on an animation screenplay I wrote over a decade ago whilst pregnant with my first son, Oliver.
It’s amazing what can be achieved when you stop making excuses and self-sabotaging, commiting to more time nourishing yourself, creatively, intellectually and physically. Please do remind yourself of what you once loved, making a list, and do more of it, more often. Commit to seeking more joy.
It’s never too late.
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