Browsing through my Instagram, I see stories after stories of drool-worthy meals and workout video sessions. It appeared to me that those around me seemed to be looking after their physical health as well as they could (definitely a good idea during a pandemic). But what about mental health? I for one, feel that the challenge of getting some ‘me time’ has intensified.
Even with the entire family locked in together under one roof, it is possible, and important, to carve out some time for yourself for the sake of your mental wellbeing. Here are some practical tips that could help.
1. Get your partner on board
Full cooperation needed! Sit down with your partner and lay down ideas on how to get those precious snippets of space and privacy. It could be something as simple as getting one person to make sure the kids do not come knocking on the locked door every few minutes.
Being cooped up 24/7 together has shown us that there are many things we cannot agree on (let’s save that article for another day). So here are some compelling pointers if one of you needs some convincing. Trust us, your partner will thank you for it in the end. Plus, a less frazzled version of you is more fun to be around.
2. Schedule in a ‘me time’ routine
Relaxed routines in this unprecedented lockdown is the way to go. In a time of chaos and uncertainty, we can all benefit from some sort of structure and predictability.
Slot in your ‘me time’ as a fixed activity on your family’s daily routine. This way it won’t get overlooked or cast aside. Don’t downplay its importance and do communicate your expectations clearly to your children.
Your daily downtime would now be a new norm as everyone in the house knows what to expect as part of the daily grind. You deserve this.
3. Screen time
Having that moment of peace warrants the deployment of technology. Now is the time to relax your stance if you have always been wary of being a ‘digital parent’. Take comfort that there are in fact many often overlooked benefits of quality screen time! Use age appropriate quota with carefully selected channels strategically. Go ahead, plop your kids in front of the TV and go into your room.
While your kids are enjoying their screen time, perhaps it is a good idea for you to log off from your devices. Social media may reinforce your anxiety and fear during these uncertain times.
4. Quality over quantity
Many of us have experienced that time when we have just settled in with a good book only to be rudely interrupted by a crying toddler. Trying to relax while having a part of your mind on ‘standby’ mode is far from ideal.
A possible way to have a good stretch of time is to consider waking up earlier, before the household wakes up or to hit the sack slightly later. Whether you are an early bird or night owl, that extra commitment is sure to give you a needed extra mental boost.
5. Zen out
What do you enjoy most? How would you honestly want to spend your quiet moments if you could remove those niggling to-do checklists in your head?
Try to engage in something completely unrelated to kids, work or house chores. The makchic team enjoys working out, gardening and reading during our down time. One of our team members suggested, next time you go on your grocery run, take a slow drive to the supermarket. This is the chance for you to listen to songs you want and not Baby Shark on repeat!
6. Prioritise, you are not being selfish!
The past few weeks have forced many of us to take on multiple new roles – the sole educator, the cleaner, the handyman, the cook, the entertainer… And the list continues. The pressure is on, and we all run the risk of burning out. Don’t be too hard on yourself- there is no such thing as a superhero parent.
It is okay if the kids didn’t learn their ABCs today or that there is that unwashed juice stain on the table. Relax. Go ahead and prioritise your downtime. After all, we all know the entire household will benefit when you are in a better frame of mind!
This is our new norm, our new reality.
Locked down with restless kids, anxious about the future, and surrounded by a never-ending cycle of household chores – we need to have space and time to ourselves to protect our mental health. The UN health agency has even outlined many other ways to safeguard mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.
Who knows, this need for some ‘me time’ at this juncture could foster some beneficial long-term habits. Squeezing some time to yourself may no longer be a rare luxury but become a common occurrence. Even after this chapter of life is over.
By Elaine Yeoh
Elaine is a mummy of two who moved from the financial world to become an early childhood educator. She loves travelling, books and her cup of tea to unwind after a long day of diapers, school runs and pretend play.