As parents and caregivers, it’s so easy for self-care to slip to the bottom of the list. In these stressful times, when our children and elders are homebound self-care is not just important–it’s essential.
Nina Munk, our Director of New Business and Seattle-based single mama shares some gentle tips on how parents and caregivers can incorporate self-care into their daily routine to stay (mostly) sane.
My 6-year-old daughter and I have been in quarantine in our home since the beginning of March. Her school was one of the first to close in Seattle, following the Covid-19 outbreak. I am so fortunate to have the luxury of being able to work remotely for OSEA, however, when you add kids to the mix, suddenly work isn’t so easy. Between my frequently child-interrupted Zoom meetings, to homeschooling my little one, to cooking, cleaning and working late into the night to meet deadlines while my favorite tiny co-worker sleeps, I’ve been struggling to maintain my normal self-care rituals. Here are some of my newly adopted life hacks for self-care in times of stress. Spoiler alert: basic is enough!
1) Make time for yourself–even for just 10 minutes a day.
See, I set the bar really low. You got this! For me, ten minutes of self-care is an aromatherapeutic evening soak (while my daughter is sleeping) with Gigartina Therapy Bath. I’ve scheduled this into my Google Calendar as a recurring event at 8:30 PM nightly. My other quarantine hack is using Undaria Cleansing Body Polish in the bath. Scrub that stress away. Lavender melts muscle tension, while hemp oil hydrates, giving you the perfect excuse to just skip moisturizer. I’m not lazy, I’m just tired.
2) Sleep. In times of stress, 8 hours isn’t always possible, but this might help.
A drop or two of Vagus Nerve Oil is all you need to calm your nerves and lull you to sleep. This golden elixir is my desert island product. P.S. I actually live on a desert island, or at least it feels that way. I massage this onto the back of my neck every night before bed. This is the stuff that helps me sleep and soothes my mama tension and fears. The Vagus Nerve is the longest cranial nerve in the body and is thought to help regulate sleep, stress and digestion. Read more about it here.
Targeted essential oil blend for relaxation
3) Disconnect. When you need a break, try turning your phone to do-not-disturb and disabling news alerts.
I subscribe to the Seattle Public Health Covid-19 daily news alerts (as well as dozens of others. Yes, I’m obsessed.). While I like to stay informed, I often end up reading the news instead of washing my face and sleeping. Hot tip: disable and “do-not-disturb” EVERYTHING at 9:00 PM and unsubscribe to stressful listservs. Both iPhones and Androids have do-not-disturb capabilities. Don’t worry, when you need to read the news, it will be there!
4) Do one self-care ritual a day that makes your FACE feel good.
Maybe it’s Gua Sha. Maybe it’s just washing your face. Remember those days when I used to go all out with a 10-step skincare routine every night? Well, lately, life has been throwing its curveballs, and finding the energy to stick to that routine feels overwhelming. But fear not! I've found my salvation in the form of the Red Algae Clarifying Mask. A few times a week, I slap on this magical potion to breathe life back into my lockdown-weary complexion. Trust me, it's like a mini spa session for your face. The mask's incredible blend of ingredients works wonders, leaving my skin feeling rejuvenated and invigorated.
5) Disconnect some more.
While Zoom/FaceTime/Netflix viewing parties can uplift and help us feel connected during this period of social distancing, too much “connected” screen time can diminish the precious little time that as parents and caregivers we have to be alone–and equally important, present with our children. Children are not immune to the stress of this pandemic, and it’s important that we show up and make space for them however we are able. I try to carve out what I call some special time each day with my daughter where I am fully present with her. We play games (chess is our favorite), practice Spanish, draw together and read stories. We are reading the Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis to each other for the 2nd time. Audible is offering free audio books for children for as long as schools are closed. My daughter and I also squeeze in some self-care rituals together. We practice deep breathing, give each other facial and foot massages and go on walks and bike rides while maintaining safe social distance. Have you seen the flowers and the trees? They are bursting! Spring has not been canceled and right now for me it’s the greatest show on earth.
6) Be Realistic.
As a parent (working or not) and a newly-minted homeschool teacher, it's crucial not to get caught up in the performance trap. There's this misleading myth floating around on social media that being at home automatically means having an abundance of time to excel at everything. Frankly, I don't have the luxury to bake my own bread, meticulously craft each meal from scratch, or embark on a new new hobby like mastering Spanish. And let's be real, expecting my six-year-old to become a math whiz by September is simply unrealistic, especially considering my background as a French literature major-turned-temporary-homeschool teacher. But you know what? That's absolutely okay! Let's be kind to ourselves, embrace the fact that we're doing our best, and remember that survival and love are more than sufficient in these extraordinary times.