Now more than ever boundaries need to be adhered to. "But Jodi, how is that even possible when we are in an element that no one has travelled before? Things have to change." You are right. Things do need to change. The world and your home will never look the same as it did before probably. However that does not mean that you have to give up on what you value, what you believe is important and what your boundaries are. It just means they look different. This is why I am choosing to take my top four tips and share them with you today. There are many others but I know that these four will be needle movers for you . Whether you choose just one, or all four, you will receive results from whichever one you choose to incorporate in your life.
No one likes to feel like they are being stomped on or invalidated. No one likes to feel like they are out of control. One thing I learned quite quickly is that if I did not create boundaries that honoured my beliefs, my values then I would feel like I was in a tail spin that was endless. In my new life I needed to re-evaluate what was important to me. 1). My kids well being. How did I do that... How do I keep doing that. I recognized that their grief over their sister, their home, their family was not less than mine. In fact I even made space for them in my mind for their grief to be equal to and even at times great than mine. The reason I did this was because they are children. They are just learning how to develop healthy coping skills... They have no tools. Secondly they are children. They typically don't get a say in how life goes, decisions made in a household, so where do they find control? They are told what to eat, what's appropriate, what is not, when they can leave, when they can stay. One a typical school day, when to wake up, what tasks they have to complete, when to go home. They don't choose what curriculum to learn based on their strengths and interests. So at times, their grief was greater than mine because they had no control over the constant changes that my recovery would force on them.
Then I considered what I needed in my home. I needed clean, I needed clutter free. At first it was for my safety as I was at high risk for tripping, loosing balance and falling which would hurt me severely. Gone were the days where something could be left on the floor and I could just bend over and pick it up, or easily walk around it. That was extremely dangerous to me. When my home was clean and tidy not only did it create and keep a safe place for me, but it allowed my mind to relax and not think of all the things that needed to be done, or all the dangers I had to look out for. I could relax. I could feel safe. Now it is still clutter free because I know how important it is to keep my mind as free from distraction as possible in managing stress and overwhelm. Everything we have around us either reduces stress or causes stress. Having clutter, mess, disorganization means a cluttered stress mind.
Third was my schedule. With keeping my kids first and foremost, whatever they needed or wanted I made sure that my recovery schedule worked around them. My recovery was a full time job. Physio 5 days a week. Restorative yoga was two times a week. Rehabilitation TRX was two times a week. Shockwave/flashwave appointments. Massage, Chiropractic, acupuncture, Counciling... These were done weekly or biweekly for months. All the driving that accompanied those appointments, then the driving to see my kids, pick them up as they lived one hour away from me. If I did not know my top two priorities, my schedule I created for myself would be stressful, chaotic, it would pull me in two different directions. I needed to be very clear on what I valued and what I didn't.
Finally I needed to take time for rest, for me. You may think that yoga and TRX was part of that, but it wasn't. When in recovery you are doing activities out of necessity. It was painful, at times excruciating and it was WORK. At the beginning I could only do 3 flights of stairs in a day. If I did more than that I was paying immensely with pain and immobility. Considering I have thirty stairs in my home every step, every appointment had to be thought out, planned and considered on how I would be able to function for the remainder of the day. Boundaries were so crucial to me in knowing what I was willing to let go, what I wasn't and who I needed around me at what time to help me emotionally, mentally and physically.
During this time of world change due to Covid-19 many things have changed for people. Those who are unemployed now, dependant on government for financial aid, those learning to teach their kids at home with online learning, not being able to go for your regular coffee date, home visit, bible study, work out, hair appointment and so forth. All that was familiar and comforting to us has been stripped away. We are entering our fourth week of our shut down of schools and our economy. Now, slowly and gently people need to look at what is truly a priority for themselves in order to create new boundaries and new values. The grief will ebb and flow. Some days will be better than others. However the time for numbing and doing nothing is coming to an end. Now we can start looking at what is working in our homes and what is not. Is it important for you to keep your kids on track with learning? How can you make that easier? Are you able to focus on one or two children at a time? Do you need to give learning times between your children a separate time zone? How can it be easy? Do you need to email their teachers and tell them that the mass emails during the week and weekends are overwhelming and can they work together with simplifying them? What do you need to make it easier?
Are you working from home now and have to manage children as well? Depending on how old they are you can teach them that its ok for you not to be constantly around them, that "these are working hours." All three of my girls I could confidently either take clients at home or bring them to work and they would not interrupt me for 1-2 hours at a time. I remember a time where I was working at a clinic and we were going paperless and learning a new system. I could not find a sitter. I brought my kids with me. I was confident they could handle the six hours I was training. I brought them snacks, toys, movies and their DVD player. I put them in my massage room and told them that I would be checking on them, no fighting, play quiet, and if they needed the bathroom they were free to come out. They were three and six at the time. Four hours later the owner of the clinic told me she had forgotten that they were even there. I smiled and said thank you. When my youngest was two she broke her knee, and it was not safe to bring her to her day home because of other children. I had three clients one day. I brought her to the clinic, sat her down in front of some toys and told her I had to work, and that she was to be a good girl and play nicely. After every client I would come out, take her to the bathroom, sit with her and play, tell her she was amazing and then start my next client. She was the same as the other two. Amazing. She trusted me to come back. My clients understood she was little and the circumstances and only at the very end in the last 15 minutes of my last client did she scoot herself over [I had left the door slightly ajar] and then sat quietly beside me as I finished up. I was able to do this because at home I had since they were young practiced fading away. I wasn't ALWAYS in a room with them playing. I wasn't always entertaining them. They had a play room [I did not allow toys all over the house and in all the bedrooms]. I practiced leaving fruit/veggie/protien trays out that they could help themselves to if they were hungry or wanted a snack, I always had full cups of water for them. By consistently practicing fading away and teaching them that it was ok if I wasn't always around, they learned I would always come back, that if they actually needed me because something was wrong I would be available. That said if something was wrong because they were misbehaving there was a steep consequence so they learned that it was better to behave than not. I rewarded good and great behaviour, I gave out praise whenever I could but not unnecessary. This is achievable in your children if you are working from home. If your kids are older, then they do have the ability to be able to understand that you need to work, and that they need to be independent from you for a little while. Its all about trust building between all of you.
Are you needing breaks? Are you needing time for yourself? That is perfectly acceptable. Our Prime minister has recommenced that you not do this alone. That you have a trusted family to do this with. It is ok to seek out a babysitter while you go take a walk or a drive and enjoy that coffee/tea, lunch without your kids or your spouse. Its ok if you take the time to have that aroma therapy bath/shower that lasts a little longer. [Essential oils work on a cellular level and can be so beneficial right now for reducing stress and increasing ones wellbeing]. Are you needing to have a nap because you are so overwhelmed and are exhausted? What about creating dates with your significant other... One on one dates with your children? When we take the time to cultivate our relationships [including the one with ourselves] we feel better. Our stress levels go down. We feel heard, understood and grateful. Are you asking help from one another. Are you communicating effectively on what your needs and boundaries are in your home during this time?
Knowing where your values and believes are and what is priority can be so useful during this time. This time is hard. It is forcing EVERYONE to look inward and that can be extremely hard because often we have so many distractions that we don't need to "know ourselves." Now that we are faced with ourselves... We can't get away from ourselves... We are everywhere we go. Have you come up with a family constitution? It can be so beneficial to sit down together and discover what you all feel is important and how to respect and honour everyone in your household during this time. Having a routine, a schedule is also so important so that everyone knows what to expect, what the results will be and what the benefit for them is. All of these tools can help us find pleasure in our lives, and pleasure is what drives our brain to action. Pleasure is what drives our beliefs and our habits. I'm curious of where you are finding pleasure, joy and happiness right now?