I’ve seen a lot of posts and advice for how new work-from-home individuals can maintain structure and feel good about their days.
But what about those of us who are not working from home? What about those who were already stay-at-home parents but now don’t have the respite they used to of their kids going to school or activities or play-dates?
What about those who are still working out of the home because they need to (or we need them to — a huge THANK YOU to all you health care workers out there!).
Our mental health is often connected to how we feel about the world around us. While right now we might not feel that we have all that much control over things, we do have control over how we choose to look at things. We have control over what we do in our individual worlds, and that can make all the difference in how we feel.
So here are four tips to maintain some of that structure you may feel you have lost.
Get Up and Get Dressed Every Morning
This does not mean that you need to put on business casual clothes to hang out around the house and cook with your kids. But getting up and getting dressed, even if you are not planning to leave the house, can do great things for your mood.
Run a brush through your hair, and maybe even consider some mascara or lip gloss. While it might seem superficial in some ways, these extra steps can increase self-confidence and therefore improve how you are feeling overall.
Keep to Some Sort of Schedule
This does not mean one of those color-coded, minute-by-minute, teach-your-kid-from-home schedules (don’t get me started on those!). Just some sort of structure so that both you and the kids know what to expect.
This might mean watching a movie each day, cooking/baking together or going for a walk when the weather is nice. Waking up around the same time each morning and going to bed around the same time each night is also a great structure to support positive mental health.
Find Time for Just You
This might be really hard but when you’re used to having kids in school, and now they are home, you need to intentionally carve out this time.
Maybe it means waking up a little earlier than the kids or spending a little more time on yourself in the evening after they go to bed.
There is zero shame in putting the kids in front of the television or laptop for a few minutes for you to be able to sit and do something you want to do for yourself (this is about survival!) Taking this time will make you, and everyone around you, more equipped to handle whatever is thrown at you.
Connect with Other Adults
While social distancing expectations has eliminated a lot of what we used to do to connect with our peers, we are still able to unite in other ways. Schedule phone calls or FaceTime sessions with friends, or a “Zoom happy hour” with people you have not been able to see on a regular basis.
Maintaining these relationships and adult interactions is super-important to overall mental health and wellbeing. Just because we can’t go out to dinner right now does not mean we can’t still connect over the same conversation we would have been having.
We just do it in a different manner.
Jmore parenting columnist Talya Knable is a psychotherapist who lives in Lutherville with her husband, Stephen, and their two children, Jack and Leigh. Her website is tkpsych.com/. She is also the assistant clinical director of Shalom Tikvah (shalomtikvah.org/), a local non-profit organization that supports Jewish families facing mental illness and other challenging life circumstances.