After a whole year and a half, I’ve finally contracted covid-19 with two weeks left until my birthday and just starting a new job, it makes perfect timing!
Luckily, I will be out of self-isolation by my birthday but I’m going to have to be extra cautious because I do NOT want to get a second bout of the stuff. Also, I’ve had to cancel all upcoming birthday events and work dates.
Covid-19 has affected families in different ways. If we are lucky, we have been able to enjoy staying at home, reconnecting with family and indulging in some serious down time, safe in the knowledge we have still been receiving the majority of our pay. If we are unlucky, we have been anxious, struggling financially and emotionally, or worse we have lost a loved one.
However, amongst the gloomy predictions of Great Depression-like economic slumps there is hope and opportunity. Opportunity for us, individually and as a society to change and create a better tomorrow and greater balance.
In fact, a recent YouGov survey showed that only 8% of Britons want life to return to ‘normal’ after the virus outbreak is over. 42% of participants said they value food and other essentials more since the pandemic, with 38% cooking from scratch more. 61% of people are spending less money. Two-fifths said there is a stronger sense of community in their area since the outbreak began and 39% say they are catching up with friends and family more. We are being reminded of what is truly important and meaningful in our lives. The only question is whether we will head those lessons and insights and use them to create something better or whether we will all go back to the way it was.
There is talk of a ‘new normal’ which implies that we are going to have to make some compromises in the new reality we find ourselves in. But what if, the compromise was the way we used to live. Compromising our time with those we love to make money to buy stuff we didn’t really need in the first place. Compromising time with friends and family for work commitments and never-ending deadlines. Compromising our health because we didn’t believe we had the time or inclination to cook from scratch or take care of our fitness. And yet these are the little things that have kept us sane for the last few months. The shared family meals, life lived at a slower and often, more enjoyable pace. A bit less anxiety, a bit more love.
Let’s forget about normal or new normal and instead focus on ‘New Balance’. Here are five practical ideas to help make this ‘new balance’ a reality in your family life. Please feel free to share these tips with those around you and help them find the space they need to make them into regular habits:
Take time out, every day to get outside, ideally in nature or a local park. Walk, pay attention to what’s going on around you. Don’tcut yourself off by listening to music, audio books or podcasts. Instead, pay attention to what’s around you, notice the trees, listen to the bird song, witness the change of the seasons. Take this time, even if it’s just a few minutes, to just ‘be’. Listen. Think. Spend time in silence.
Master your mornings: Start your day from a place of positivity. Prepare the night before so that mornings can include a shared breakfast. Everyone in the family says what they want to achieve that day and takes a minute or two to share what you are already grateful for in your lives. Use that positive start to get into a positive mindset.
Take ten or twenty minutes out of each day to read an inspirational book. For example, any of the three Meee in a Minute books (life, family and work). Each one has 60 one-minute nuggets of wisdom including life hacks, advice, insights, science, short exercises, and thought experiments to ensure you start the day with positivity and confidence. Another great book is A. C. Grayling’s ‘The Meaning of Things’ which had a profound impact on my life. There are dozens of great books so pick those that resonate with you. Many are also available as audio books.
Eradicate unnecessary activity. Ask yourself does this activity add value and make you feel better or does it detract from your life. Lockdown has taught us what is really important and spending money and endless shopping doesn’t appear to have made the cut. Take some time to consider what’s really important in your life. If something doesn’t add value, eliminate it or seek to cut down that activity in your life. Focus on what matters professionally and personally. Focus on what makes you and your family happy. And make these things the priority.
Connect with people you care about – friends and family. At work seek to find ways to maintain some of the flexibility that became essential during Covid-19. Honour both the human being and the employee. Find ways to maintain a connection and to find a balance that works for all the important parts of your life. At home, talk to each other, eat together as a family and maintain the strengthened bonds facilitated by the pandemic.
Today we have an opportunity to create something better for our families and also for our communities. This could be our silver lining where we truly appreciate that what matters doesn’t have to cost money. It isn’t the nice overseas holidays, the expensive car or the bigger home. What matters are the micro moments of love, trust, gratitude for the simple things.
About the Author
Sid Madge is founder of Meee (My Education Employment Enterprise) which draws on the best creativity and thinking from the worlds of branding, psychology, neuroscience, education and sociology, to help people achieve extraordinary lives. To date, Meee has transformed the lives of over 20,000 people, from leaders of PLC’s and SME’s to parents, teachers, students, carers, the unemployed and prison inmates. Sid Madge is also author of the ‘Meee in Minute’ series of books which each offer 60 ways to change your life, work- or family-life in 60 seconds.
This is a guest post written by Sid Madge. Images of Sid Madge are credited to Tony Blake Photography respectively and must not be used without permission.
I have always loved the idea of homeschooling but didn’t think I’d have the intelligence, patience or willpower to do so. After these two – almost three weeks – I can tell you that it’s bloody hard! I’ve always done so but now praise teachers even more for what they do with our children, it’s not an easy job with one let alone a class full of twenty plus.
We also must need to thank all of the key workers working hard to keep our country running. The shop workers, seriously – where would we be without them? It’s amazing that we can all stand together as one and as a community, helping each other out. In Greenwich there is a mutual aid group made up of locals volunteering to help out those in need who are struggling with their daily lives.
So we have been self-isolating since the school closures were announced on Friday 20th March. We have only gone out when necessary for essential shopping which we try to limit to no more than 2-3 a week. We didn’t stockpile but made sure we had a few extras of our normal shop to keep us going for a few weeks. We haven’t been sick or had symptoms *touch wood* and have stayed away from our friends and family.
Of course, we practice social distancing and we try to only nominate one of us to do the essential shop. I get Daddy P to do it as the last time I tried to go to the shops it was a little awkward and I felt very anxious. Social distancing wasn’t entirely possible in our local supermarket and other people noticed it too. One even commented “well we’re all gonna die anyway“… okay(!)
I wanted to say something so badly but we’re all entitled to our own opinion and in these uncertain times, who knows anymore. I wrote an earlier post about the racial tension I experienced which still looms in the air. Even an NHS worker in London was recently racially targeted because she was of Asian-looking heritage. There’s only two words that people need to think of in this situation and it’s “BE KIND”. Be kind to everyone but especially those who are working flat out to keep us safe.
The outbreak is affecting us all mentally, emotionally and physically. The kids are managing well and to be honest, haven’t been asking too many questions about it. They’ve just taken it on board and got along with things. I am so grateful that they are able to have this mindset especially as they’re not allowed outside more than once a week.
How to stay happy & healthy during lockdown…
1. Stick to a routine
Keeping to a routine will not only save your sanity, it will also give the family a sense of structure to your day. Most days, try to wake up at a reasonable time like (before 10am) and get that morning routine going. Especially as most of us are now at home it’s so easy to fall into a slump and put your body clock out of sync with the world.
If you are homeschooling you might want to wake up like you would do on a ‘normal’ school day and start your studies at 9am. For us, we’re a bunch of lazy bones and will wake up around 9-10am and start homeschooling an hour after. Our morning routine includes washing face/brushing teeth, eat breakfast, set up the desk and get into homeschool-mode. So much easier that we don’t have to faff around with school uniform!
Everyone’s routine will be a little different – the same goes with the homeschooling. Before I started, I had big plans for Little Man and a good day’s schedule all planned out. After the first day, we realised it wouldn’t work and so have adapted it to suit us since then. Now we limit school work to 2 hours a day and usually try to do it before their lunch at 1pm. However, we are also flexible so if we’ve had a lazy morning, we’d carry on with relaxing and playing then do the homeschooling after lunch or during the second half of the day.
2. Eat well
Don’t curb on all the processed food as now you’ll actually have the time to cook. If you’re not great at it or stuck for ideas, just head online and you’ll find that the internet world is really your (virtual) oyster. If the kitchen is not really your forte, subscription companies like Gousto, Mindful Chef and Hello Fresh can actually be very helpful however they will be very busy due to demand. Have a look for food boxes from your local grocery, they might even deliver for free. You can even check out their boxes recipes online too, here’s a link to Mindful Chef’s latest recipes to whet your appetite.
Handy Tip: get the kids involved with the cooking! It’ll count towards their ‘life skills’ and makes great bonding sessions.
Breakfast: make sure you have a good breakfast to start your day. Our favourite is oat porridge with a small dollop of jam or a slice of toast with cheesy scrambled egg. For myself if I’m being lazy, I have a slice of toast with tea and then coffee!
Lunch: we keep it simple for lunch as the kids usually get involved. Recently we’ve been making easy egg-less fluffy pancakes(the recipe’s here!). There’s also a recipe for ‘protein pancakes’ on this blog if you fancy something different.
Dinner: Daddy P and I take it in turns but I would say 80% of the time, I’ll cook and he’ll clean because he’s the best at cleaning! 🙂 Our recent meals include salmon and dill quiche with salad, seafood and fish pie, easy macaroni cheese, veggie lasagne, and even fish stew! As Daddy P is pescetarian we don’t cook meat anymore – saying that I did make sticky soy and garlic glazed chicken wings the other day which was so tasty.
We try to get in our daily “together time”. This is any fun activity that we can do all together as a family. There’s also a weekly Sunday family rave courtesy of Big Fish Little Fish events at 2pm on Facebook Live so don’t miss that one! It’s pretty amazing. They put on an amazing show, we’ve been to a few family raves in person so it’s really nostalgic to watch them on Sundays. Also an excuse for us to make noise and go crazy with dance.
When I want to workout alone, I put on Zumba Workouts (Youtube) and work up a good sweat, my favourite workouts are from a lady called Ysel Gonzalez – she has such a vibrant energy it’s amazing. Sometimes the kids join in which is nice too. I’ve also bought a rebounder to use at home and the kids are having a good workout on there too! I’ve not had a go yet but will try it out this weekend.
If you’re stuck on ideas, here are some ‘together time’ activities you can fit into your routine:
Yoga (especially family yoga!)
Games – board games, console games, team player games, made-up games
Messy play or imaginative (role play, dressing up)
Arts and crafts-making
Watching a film together
Gardening (if you have a garden) or planting (indoors or outdoors)
Learning a new language
4. Do more yoga!
We’ve been doing family yoga stories together once a week, sometimes more if they’re up to it. There’s also a lot of yoga teachers offering online classes (free, pay-what-you-can and donation-based) so have a look out for them. There’s literally a class for everyone – from adults only to family yoga and mum & baby yoga. Look out for gentle yoga ‘flows’ (classes/sessions) that are specifically for beginners if you have none or very little yoga experience. These sessions are the best at easing you into simple poses and will have more options for modification. Restorative yoga flows are also great for beginners and they focus on releasing tight areas and are friendly enough for those who suffer from mobility issues or injuries. It’s also great for those who just want a much slower and relaxing pace.
Yoga really is for everybody. Don’t think that you need to be flexible to start yoga – remember, flexibility is a by-product of a yoga practice.
5. Be flexible and realistic with your expectations
It’s so easy to try and cram as much in as possible, especially when we’re provided with so much choice and now have a lot more time on our hands. Take each day as it comes and as much as having a routine and structure is important, so is the ability to be flexible and realistic with your expectations.
If the children seem like they have too much energy, have some time out and maybe even skip the schoolwork for the day. Enjoy the time you have with each other. It’s hard for the children to not be able to release their wild energy normally like they would do running about in the playground and so they can become restless, mine certainly do! Be more understanding towards them and give them a little lee-way.
6. Try practicing mindfulness
Learn to be in the moment. Become present. Learning to become mindful is something I am trying to teach myself (not succeeding yet!). I can get quite riled up from the children that sometimes I lose my sh*t and go on a shouting rampage. What good does that do? Nothing really. How does it make me feel afterwards? Like a crappy parent. So why continue to do it?
Stop the cycle by observing and not judging whether it’s a good or bad situation, just accept it as it is. Only then can we move forward to a more positive outcome. I bought a mindfulness book which helps me to challenge my thoughts and behaviours – almost like a CBT book that helps me to keep calm and become more mindful of everything around. There’s also brilliant mindfulness apps for adults and children. For adults, I love the CALM app and for kids, we use the Moshi Twilight stories app. It really helps the children to relax and usually sends them off to sleep. Other mindfulness activities can include mandala colouring (great for kids too!), guided meditation and yoga nidra.
7. Boost your immunity
I’m sure you’ve heard this everywhere. Keep your immunity levels high to keep your health in good condition. You don’t have to purchase the world of tablets but multivitamins with omega 3 or vitamin D, and vitamin C tablets can go a long way. A good way of getting in vitamin C is through eating fruits like oranges. Try not to juice them as this extracts mainly the sugars that’s contained in the fruit. You’ll get more benefit from eating oranges whole and eat fruits with the skin on like apples as the fibre is in the skin.
When I’m not feeling too well, I like drinking my honey and ginger tea. Just hot water, a teaspoon of honey and a thumb-size knob of ginger (crushed) is the best thing ever. Ginger and honey are also natural ingredients that help fight off infections and inflammation.
Turmeric is also another fantastic ingredient that is an immune-booster, it’s anti-inflammatory and said to help with healing. My mother used to buy fresh turmeric root and rub it over her acne spots to help it heal faster. Unfortunately the root can be hard to find but they would be available in most Asian food stores but turmeric powder can be found in most supermarkets.
8. Get out and get some fresh air
Whether you have a garden or an apartment balcony, there’s always a way to get in some fresh air. We are still currently allowed to go outside for an hour of exercise so you could use a few minutes of this time to go on a gentle walk. If you’re up early enough, take the kids with you so they can get some fresh air too – by going earlier you’ll avoid unnecessary crowds of people. Of course, continue to practice social distancing and stay safe when outside.
Another option is to get yourself some plants. There are a range of air-purifying plants that can help you to breathe better at home – especially if you have enough of them around. An air purifier (and humidifier if you suffer from dry air or low humidity issues) might also be things on your shopping list. A dusty room or low humidity room can cause you to cough and may cause respiratory irritations.
9. Don’t forget about yourself in the midst of it all
When you have a family, looking after number one *yourself* can sometimes become the last priority but during this lockdown, your own mental/physical/emotionally self must be taken care of first. Think about SELF CARE. It’s the time to be selfish because you don’t look after yourself, who will? I’m not advising splash out and go crazy (unless you can really afford to or want to) but my point is, do something nice for yourself at least once a week or month. Whether that’s allowing yourself to binge on Netflix or eating that whole batch of chocolate brownies, just do it!
I re-joined Birchbox last month and I’m looking forward to this little treat. Other beauty subscription boxes include Look Fantastic (check out their pretty April box here), Glossybox and Beauty Pie. If you prefer natural or vegan beauty products, I’d highly recommend trying out the LoveLula boxes. I need to start reviewing the boxes again but I stopped as it took a lot of time, though now I have a little more time… why not!
These beauty boxes are life right now and the best thing is that you can choose to pay in block to save money or pay on a monthly basis and cancel at anytime. If you change your mind, you can resubscribe at anytime too.
Above all… stay happy, stay healthy, stay safe!
Lots of love to everyone during these uncertain times. Take care of family and more importantly yourself, in both mind and body. x