By: Emily Matthews
If your family is anything like ours, quarantine is getting old. Each day, I check in with my kids and husband and ask, “How’s your heart today?” As the COVID-filled months have rolled by, I have slowly but surely seen their optimism wane. The projects and hobbies we enjoyed at the beginning of quarantine – almost a year ago now – are losing their shine, and we’re exhausted from the same routines, the same shows, the same four walls, and (dare I say) the same four people.
As the fearless leader of your family, how do you combat these quarantine mid-winter blues? How do you make space for feelings without giving way to downright despair, and finding joy in the mundane and difficult moments? I don’t have all the answers, but I can share what’s making a difference for our family.
Acknowledge the Struggle:
As a mom, I really want to fix it – whatever “it” is – that is hurting my kids. Whether it be their boredom, sadness, or loneliness, I have found myself saying “cheer up!” or “things aren’t so bad” more often that I would like. I know that spewing platitudes doesn’t change their feelings, it only keeps them from expressing their tough emotions. In these situations, I try to remember that the only way out is through. Rather than trying to force my kids to move away from a feeling, I’ve been practicing entering that feeling with them, showing empathy for the pain they’re experiencing and inviting them to share more. Then, we do something like turning on music and dance, go for a walk, or cook a delicious meal to move through it.
The truth is, things are hard right now. While the spring and summer offered the option to socially distance outside, the winter weather and lack of options for gathering outdoors has brought on an entirely new level of loneliness. In the moments we’re feeling down, it helps us to say, “things won’t always be this way, but right now, it’s hard, and that’s okay.”
Make Delicious Food:
One aspect of quarantine that we have genuinely enjoyed is cooking as a family. We’ve tried so many new recipes and have learned a lot about proper nutrition. Plus, we’ve learned how to work with what we have. In an effort to limit our grocery store runs, we try to cook something great with everything we purchase, until it runs out. It’s become like a fun game, and my kids are learning valuable “grown-up” skills that they will use in the years to come.
Maintain Healthy Habits:
During quarantine, I’ve been really disappointed in my fitness schedule. During the spring, it was easy to get out and get active. However, without my pre-quarantine access to a gym, the winter months have brought on extra challenges, and if I’m honest — more exhaustion and less activity. However, the more I focus on developing and maintaining habits, the more I’m able to appreciate what I am able to do. I may not be participating in hour-long workout classed anymore, but I am creating the habit of daily exercise, even if it’s just a 20-minute YouTube yoga video. At this point, maintaining the habit is more important to me than “improvement.”
Put It into Perspective:
While this time is unquestionably difficult, there are moments of joy and comfort. When I’m really struggling, I try to remind myself that this is not forever. And while I am so ready to have people over again, enjoy a movie, or go to brunch with my girlfriends, this time offers a unique opportunity to invest in my home and my family. This is a helpful reminder when I want to check out. What do I want my kids to remember about quarantine years down the road? That they felt safe, loved, cherished, and even had a little fun.
While it may not feel like it, this too shall pass. Wishing you all the comfort and strength to find joy in this difficult season.