I received an email this morning from some kids activity newsletter with the top ten tips on how to prepare for back to school. It stunned me how out of touch it was since it was 100% not applicable this year. I don’t need to pack lunches the night before or have kids put their backpacks and shoes by the door because we are not leaving the house. School will be at home, backpacks will stay at home, lunch will be eaten at home, and then it hit me …
Everything will be at home. Here we go again.
I guess I knew that since everything has been at home since March of this year but it hit me in a bigger way. All of the things that used to be pain points for us before are basically non issues now: No one is screaming that they can’t find any socks. No one is frantically looking for the books due on library day. No one is running down the block so they don’t miss the bus.
While the absence of these stressors certainly will be nice, they will be replaced with other stressors. Now that we’re all home and all eating every meal at home there are suddenly more meals in a day, more dishes, more laundry, and more demands for my time which I have way less control over.
It’s a week from school starting and our district hasn’t sent out any information on virtual learning yet. We don’t know when the kids will be expected to be online. How am I supposed to manage my schedule when I now have two other schedules that I will need to manage but have absolutely no control over?
Back when my now spouse and I were dating long distance, we had this term we used to describe the feeling we had when we were together but knew it was going to end soon: missipation (the anticipation of missing each other). Now I’ve got the feeling I’ll call “stressipation,” the anticipation of being stressed.
There’s a week until school starts and I’m pre-stressing because of all of the unknowns: How will my children handle distance learning? Should I have them in a pod or can we manage without it? Maybe it’s better to have them engage with other kids socially and do the academic stuff at home? Was I too lax over the summer so now will I have trouble establishing order? How much is too much screen time? Am I doing enough to protect my family from COVID or am I being too paranoid?
Adding to it all, I know we all have our own personal issues to deal with that don’t go away just because we’re in quarantine: the insane political climate, racial injustice and unlearning racism, health and medical issues, financial concerns, job insecurity, mom guilt, and not to mention the standard order nutrition/exercise vs comfort food dilemma that is ever present. It’s no wonder we feel like we are coming apart at the seams.
Its times like these I’m reminded that my mindfulness practice is not just scheduling time to meditate or do yoga. It’s actually acknowledging my feelings, noticing how I’m feeling them in my body, breathing into it when I’m feeling it (not just when it’s scheduled) and basically finding calm in the chaos.
Finding tools that works for you
I’ve been working with a few coaching clients that have been dealing with these or similar issues and here are some examples of what has worked for them so far:
Start with the goal in mind
Amanda in Florida started out with a goal to learn how to maintain order when things get chaotic. She has two teenage sons in a shared custody arrangement and a fairly unpredictable schedule as a realtor. In the weeks leading up to the start of school, we starting by identifying her priorities and personal goals then putting together variations of a trial schedule. We met each week and discussed what worked/didn’t work and adjusted as necessary. Now she’s two weeks into having her kids back at school and while she’s ironing out some kinks, for the most part the schedule is working for her because she started with her goals in mind and used it to make a customized schedule just for her.
Create a structure that works for you
Casey in New Jersey was let go from her company right at the beginning of the summer. She was happy to have the summer “off” and finally have the chance to relax and work on all of the projects she had put off when she was working 10 hour days but soon found the lack of structure was adding her feeling out of control. Through coaching she created a vision statement for her summer plan: To create a system that provides structure to her day so that she feels in control of her time and has the ability to achieve her goals of getting a new job and enjoying her time with family. Coaching provided the space for her to look at how she was prioritizing her time and the accountability gave her peace of mind that she knew she was making progress.
Honor your commitment to yourself
Melissa is a stay at home mom with two young kids. Her older child was about to start kindergarten and she was panicking because she didn’t know how she was going to manage. In coaching we worked on the life balance inventory and she discovered one common factor was disorganization. So she set a goal for herself of cleaning out the spare bedroom to make it a cozy office space and retreat. With the support and accountability of a coach, Melissa has been making significant progress in letting go of items that no longer serve her, clearing out space (literally) for things that do. A bonus project that she completed was the creation of a learning area for her kindergartener by moving the stacks of paperwork in the kitchen to her new office. She noticed a few key things that have worked for her: setting a goal and breaking it down into manageable steps, scheduling the time and honoring that commitment; and acknowledging and celebrating small wins and successes.
Mindful Coaching works
What I like about mindful coaching is that it puts you in a positive frame of mind. Instead of focusing on the problems, you focus on the solutions. We typically start each session by taking a moment to center through gentle seated movement, breath work, and/or a guided meditation to access your calm response, opening up space to welcome your inner wisdom. We use curious, powerful questions to evoke personal exploration and discovery. This invites introspection into what truly matters, exploring and uncovering new options and improved decision making. Together we create a customized action plan based on your specific needs that works for you, empowering you to take the steps necessary to make the changes you desire.
If this sounds like something that would be helpful to you, I would be delighted to be of service. Please reach out and we can set up some time for a free exploratory session to focus on how mindful coaching can help you create some calm during this time of chaos.