During the week of 16 March, when schools were on the verge of closing, like everyone else I was having frantic thoughts about how to maximise my family's productivity during this time. I read lots online about home-schooling and thought about learning new languages, improving fitness, teaching the children to cook and discover new musical instruments. The options were overwhelming and I felt pressure to turn this period of uncertainty into a magical and productive experience for my children. I was ambitious with work, too. I wanted to rise to the challenge and worked out a timetable that allowed me to continue my full time hours on top of home-schooling and managing a household.
Needless to say, it was too much. After crashing last week with illness, I have been forced to slow right down and accept that those ambitions were unrealistic. I then felt guilty, in particular my failure to take in the experience and appreciate time with my children.
When I felt well again, I registered for an e-learning course by Pooky Knightsmith, where she spoke about self-care and its renewed meaning and significance for us in today’s context. Self-care isn’t necessarily about candle-lit baths and sewing projects. It’s really about the basics. It’s about ensuring we eat well, quality of sleep and of relationships, establishing a sense of control and it’s about being kind to ourselves, which for me (like many) is about managing guilt.
So now, I am allowing myself to find comfort and pleasure in simple things. I’m not attempting to learn anything new, but instead reconnecting with activities we’ve always enjoyed. I’ve picked up a new book, started drawing again and I am enjoying cooking. I’ve stopped timetabling myself and the children, whilst sticking to a consistent rhythm that involves rotations of work, time with the children and housework. We're going for a walk each day and the children and I have been photographing our favourite colours in nature and naming them.
Soon, the Easter break will end and the pressure of home-schooling will return. When it does, I will work to maintain the calm and rhythm that we’ve started to achieve this week. But for now, I’m off to do some baking.