Yesterday was a tough day. Second day of home-schooling. First day of proper “lockdown”. At the end of the day, I described myself as having fallen into the pit of negative misery. Not quite as serious perhaps as Anne of Green Gables “depths of despair”, but not an especially fun place to be. I was going to write today to offer some creative activities to do whilst the little ones are at home, but I felt that, actually, I needed to be real and recognise that this time, however creative we are, can be incredibly difficult.
So, what might help? I felt having hit quite close to the bottom, I needed to make a change to help myself get out of the pit. Too many tears were shed yesterday. This cannot happen every day. I felt I was “doing my best”, but clearly that was not working, so perhaps I needed a change in approach as well as attitude. I have come up with three, very simple (and probably obvious), but hopefully helpful thoughts.
I have blogged before about how rewarding I find keeping a gratitude/thankful diary. I write mine more like a list. At the end of each day I think of one thing, one moment, I am thankful for. Even on a day like yesterday, when everything felt pretty bad, the fact that I was able to find one little moment to lift my spirits was a great relief. My nearly 5-year-old daughter, Poppi, has also started writing a diary. It was supposed to be a tool to help her reflect on her day and, in turn, help us manage potential meltdowns when she is unable to verbally express what she needs. As you have heard me say before, children express themselves through play and/or creative means. The diary was an avenue to encourage this. However, she has chosen (totally by her own accord) to write something she has loved each day. In other words, her own gratitude journal.
The second thought I had, which helps me get up in the morning, is that each day is a new day. Referring again to Anne of Green Gables (sorry if you don’t know who she is!) she says that “tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it”. That is so true. Each morning we can try again. Where we feel like a total failure at the end of the day, tomorrow has no fails in it yet.
Finally, something I learnt when Poppi was tiny but had clearly forgotten. I need to lower my expectations. I remember setting out at the beginning of a day with a long list of things to achieve and only managing one if any of them. I eventually learnt that if I lower my expectations then I don’t fail so often! Not rocket science really! I, we, have to remember that this is a challenging and confusing time for our kids too. They don’t understand what is going on and the length of time they are likely to be out of school. They pick up on our conversations and anxieties more than we realise, which obviously confuses them more. I was imagining idyllic home-schooling where Poppi would listen to everything I say (when does she ever do that anyway?!?!) and produce beautiful work. Seriously Rachel!! As I write, that even sounds ridiculous to me!
So today, I have started out knowing it is a new day, knowing that there will be moments of joy, but also being realistic about what we can achieve. I hope that helps.