Goodness this global pandemic has thrown our lives into a spin in many ways hasn't it?
For many of us, our daily life is unrecognisable now, compared to a couple of months ago.
Its no coincidence that I have chosen this image for this blog post - For many of us, this lockdown has forced us to take on a much slower, perhaps even tortoise-paced, way of life in some ways - Forcing us to stay home, forcing us away from socialising, and the gym, and the playdates, etc. But on the flip side, the lockdown is also commonly making us feel like we are losing bits of ourselves, and bits of our lives, that are really important to us. And all the multi-tasking of home-working and trying to educate and entertain the children at the same time ... Well, it is making some of us feel as if we are literally falling apart somewhat ...
This is a context of newness, uncertainty, a lack of clarity, and of confusion ... In a nutshell, it's an imperfect context in many ways. For most of us, this is not how we designed our life, and our life as we know it is feeling out of our control ... So we can easily end up feeling imperfect ourselves too, within this imperfect context.
Most of feel uncomfortable feeling imperfect - Many of us strive in our normal day-to-day life to be as perfect as we can be in all areas - We try to be the best employee we can be, the best mother or father we can be, the best friend we can be, the best daughter or son, etc. etc. And this new lock-down will be making all of that harder - And some of us can now also add trying to be the best 'impromptu home-school teacher' to our list too ...
So how do we get through this very different, and very challenging, time?
Embrace the imperfection.
Just - Embrace it.
This is hands-down the best way for all of us to navigate this imperfect time and our imperfect lives within this time. The more we try to fight to maintain our usual standards for our life, the more frustrated, stressed and down on ourselves we will become. And as a flow-on from this, the more our kids will (consciously or unconsciously) pick up on this, and they begin more and more to express this in their behaviour - Our children never intentionally mean to behave in ways that upset us; They are never consciously choosing to act up more that usual in this stressful time, and they are never choosing to make your life harder - They are humans, and small, undeveloped humans at that, and this is simply just how small humans express their anxieties and vulnerabilities, particularly those anxieties related to having parents who are feeling (at this time) more stressed and uncertain themselves.
So just how do we embrace the imperfections inherent in this time?
There are several core strategies that, when employed consistently, will always help reduce stress in an imperfect world:
- Focus on what you do achieve each day.
- Prioritise rest and play every day.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Consciously introduce more self-compassion into your thinking.
- Give yourself explicit permission to be imperfect, and for your life to be imperfect, right now. Say it out loud - "I give myself permission to be imperfect today/in this task/etc."; or write it down - "I am imperfect. My life is imperfect. And that is ok, because I give myself and myself to be imperfect at this time".
- And finally, be open with your children about your new strategy embracing imperfection - Don't try to make it look perfect on the outside, just call it what it is - It is imperfect, and openly talk about it being so.
If you'd like to know more about any of these strategies (and there is of course lots more that can be said about each of them!), then please check out an article I wrote last year about these very tips and tools. See here for this article link: https://www.support-local-magazine.co.uk/all-articles/2019/12/21/your-how-to-guide-for-embracing-imperfections
And finally, please also remember that I wrote this article in a time when the world was not in the midst of a global pandemic - These are not just good strategies to get you through this time, they are ALWAYS helpful, and always associated with good mental health for us and our families, for any time and any context. But the current context really does give us all an ideal opportunity to practice them!