Last year around this time, we were still wading knee-deep through the unknown. Many of us had already been home for months, we were struggling with yet another season of remote schooling, and the idea of heading into yet another year of COVID protocols was exhausting. Parents nationwide were getting mixed messages about whether or not school would be in session, and we all had mixed feelings about both situations in the middle of a pandemic when it seemed real answers were thin on the ground.
And although this year is better in many ways, with more vaccinations, more clarity, and in some cases, better schedules figured out, we’re still struggling. Some students are in school while others aren’t. Some parents are at work while others aren’t. When a child gets a “close contact” warning at school, they may have to be pulled out for weeks. And the threat of bringing a dangerous illness back home still looms in the background.
But, this year can be different. Really. We’ve had more time to prepare. We know we can get through it. Plus, there are creative ways to level up this fall and really just make the most of it. You’ve probably come up with several of your own ideas (necessity is the mother of invention, after all) but we checked in with experts this week to help us discover a few more.
Before doing anything else, celebrate.
No, really. Before we move forward into 2022, it’s important to take a look back and celebrate what we’ve accomplished in the last year. We had to scramble. It was chaos. But eventually, we figured it out. We managed our jobs and our children. We improved our time management. We’re feeling more resilient, and it’s important that we congratulate ourselves, says Beth Benatti Kennedy, leadership coach and resiliency expert.
Write everything down, and outsource as much as you can
“I really believe in investing your time in getting everything out of your brain and having a realistic look at where everything stands,” says Alison French, CEO and cofounder of healthcare automation platform Emerged.
Once you’ve got everything down in front of you, you can figure out what’s stressing you out the most and see if you can get help. When French did this exercise for herself, she found that having someone else do the grocery shopping could make an enormous difference in the quality of her day. Knowing there’s always milk in the fridge and something healthy for her family to eat was her missing piece. Everyone is different. Maybe you don’t mind shopping or cooking, but it’s time to ask your partner to help with the laundry. Or if you’re fortunate enough to have a nanny, a housekeeper, or helpful parents nearby, you can ask them about pitching in for additional tasks. The point is that you can get rid of some of the menial day-to-day tasks in your household that take up space in your brain but aren’t particularly edifying.
Other things to consider that might have a positive impact include:
- Meal prepping for the whole week
- Hiring an affordable babysitter from a local high school, college or university
- If you’re a small business owner, hiring a part-time virtual assistant who can help you with things like invoicing or repetitive tasks that don’t require much oversight
- Looking into babysitting co-ops in your neighborhood where families trade nights keeping one another’s children, giving each family an opportunity for a free kid-free night or two each month.
Create a Defined Schedule
There are few things that can reduce your stress level quite as much as creating a defined schedule. You want to ensure that when you’re at work, you’re 100% focused on work, and when you’re off the clock, you can 100% focus on the rest of your life, including your family and hobbies, as you desire. Start by not checking email all day. Take your time with your morning coffee all to yourself, or your time with a cup of tea at night. (Ideally both!) The point is that you try to bookend your day with non-screen time activities that allow you to reconnect with yourself.
Make Connection a Priority
“Working moms have realized the key to making it through this madness is connecting with other working moms,” Kennedy says. “That theme of connection is what’s going to get us through this next wave. The ones that are doing it are thriving.”
She says it’s important to find people you can count on and connect with. Who are the colleagues that recharge you? What friends do you need to make time for again? Many single women and moms may feel like they are all alone at home, as the pandemic drags on. Even if it’s just a simple call or text if your friends are too far away, try to nurture connections where you can.
MORE ON HERMONEY:
- HerMoney Podcast Episode 255: Tame Stress and Cure Your Busy Brain
- HerMoney Podcast Episode 209: Daily Rituals, Self Care And Healing: A How To
- The Best Online Exercise Routines That Will Actually Inspire You to Get Off the Couch
- When Self-Care Isn’t Enough: How To Shop for the Right Therapist
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