Last Updated on May 11, 2021 by Sarah Gallagher
Things have been ridiculously stressful this past year, with no signs of it stopping. So, today we decided if we were going to have a guilt-free, do nothing Monday.
Ever since the Christmas holidays, my two kids have been online learning while I work from home. I was expecting them to go back to school the second week of January. However, when the daily Covid-cases kept rising our province of Ontario went into lockdown. Every non-essential business were ordered closed. Including all schools.
I am still working away at my full-time day job. The kids are not expected to go back until February 16th, 2021. My youngest is in Jr Kindergarten, and has decided that she hates school, and actively avoids being apart of any Zoom classroom call. My older one is in Grade 4, when things get more complicated. He has French now, and is learning timetables and fractions, is expected to write more structured assignments, and generally is being taught that he needs to take responsibility for his own education. He was struggling. She was struggling. I was losing my mind.
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An Immediate Do Nothing Day Was Required
Fed up with fighting, with the stress, scheduling an immediate do nothing day. The kids did nothing but watch videos all day, eating popcorn and drinking milk because that’s all they wanted to do.
I was actually pretty cool with this. I was completely guilt-free, and I’m going to tell you why.
If you’re reading this, you have likely experienced a dramatic change in life. I’m talking about the death of your loved one. Most of you are probably widows or widowers who have lost a spouse.
Everybody grieves differently, but it’s all still very painful. Now, while you’re grieving, you’re also going through COVID at the same time. That’s a double whammy. It’s freaking horrible.
You’re dealing with the world going through craziness with the lock-downs, with the terror, and your own grief at the same time, trying to figure out what on earth to do next. Going through COVID is not a fun thing, especially if you’re alone. You’re trying to deal with the world and it’s changing but you don’t have your support for it. Maybe you can’t deal anymore.
It’s easy not to pay attention to our emotional and physical health when we are grieving, until there is a problem – but then it may be too late to fix it. So check in often, and don’t feel guilt about having a do nothing day.
Things Start To Unravel If You’re Not Paying Attention
At the beginning of the day, you have all of these ideas and these goals that you want to do. Things that you have to make sure happen. That you’re the best parent or make sure the kids get to school on time. You need to get to work today but you can’t think properly because you woke up thinking about your late husband or my wife. All you could think about was their smell and you couldn’t function anymore.
When you get to that point at any point, you know yourself best. I don’t know what stage you’re at in your grief. But when you hit your tipping point – if it’s now, if it’s tomorrow, if it’s the next day – the important part is that you need to go inside yourself. Ask yourself, “Do I have any reserve left at all to move forward? Should I plan a do nothing day?”
If you’re new to this, you are probably fighting this on a daily basis. Even if you’ve been grieving for a little bit longer, you also have to keep remembering to re-evaluate and come back to yourself.
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Today, I was supposed to be homeschooling my kids. Which really means that I’m supposed to be doing conference calls, with them being over my shoulder. Helping them with their math or their reading. Making sure my younger daughter is actually participating in her class. Making them snacks and lunch. While also trying to participate in Zoom meetings and work administrative tasks. It was really too much.
Last time I went through a lock-down, which was March 2020, I went for a hundred days solid of being the only parent and trying to do all of this. They didn’t have homeschooling then, they were just home with me.
I was still trying to deal with them and work at the same time while grieving the fact that the world has completely changed, people are dying, and OMG, I can’t go outside because the virus is out there and it could kill me.
I already have a dead husband. I can’t risk me or my kids or anybody else out there getting sick or dead.
I have to make sure I’m okay. I owe it myself to have a do nothing day.
Back to the point, we got through this back in March 2020. Now we’re locked down again, and we have higher numbers than ever before, I’m stressing out.
Respect Your Limits
Last time I went through 100 days on my own, I almost lost my mind. I didn’t realize how close I was to a mental breakdown until my mother was finally able to take my kids away. I had an afternoon to myself as a do nothing day. I went for a walk. I visited a park. I read sitting on the grass, under trees, and it was glorious.
Today, I could see this happening again. It’s only been a week and a half, and I’m already starting to see the cracks coming. And I’m like, “Nope, Nope. I’m going to shut this down. You guys don’t want to go to school. You want to watch your videos all day? Whatever. We’ve got to prioritize self-care. You guys (and me) need a mental health day. We need a do nothing day.”
This was important because I knew that the level of mental stress my entire household was under was intense, and the bad energy kept feeding off of itself. We all needed a day off.
This is what’s very important for you to learn from. You might be in a situation where I was back in spring, wherever you are, your own life, your own day to day. Maybe you don’t even realize that you are about to break. Which is very possible, because you’re already grieving and going through stuff you’ve never had to deal with before.
I’m going to tell you now, take a break. Take a break tomorrow or the next day, do it soon. Schedule a break. Schedule a do nothing day ASAP.
Take A Guilt-Free Day Off
I’m not sure what the COVID situation is in your house right now, but get your kids out of your house. Let someone else play parent for the day while you take care of yourself. Create space for yourself to have a guilt-free do nothing day. That might mean that you’ll take a bath. Or you’re going to go for a long walk, socially distancing of course. It could be that you wander down to the beach or a park, or you just do whatever you want to do.
Whoever you are, you probably don’t also realize that because you’re just so used to doing daily grind and working through it. I’m telling you, you gotta stop. You gotta slow down. You gotta say, I need to take this time for me. I deserve a do nothing day. Okay? You are the most important person right now. Especially as your kids rely on you.
You don’t have anyone else to rely on anymore, not the way you could before when you had your best friend, your soulmate. Before they were taken away from you. You can’t go to that person for support anymore.
There’s an analogy that still rings true. You’re in the airplane which is going down. The oxygen masks have fallen down. You’ve got your kids beside you. What do you do? You take that mask and put it on yourself before you help your kids. Because if you can’t breathe, they’re not being taken care of.
If you haven’t been able to check-in on yourself, if you don’t know if you have, then take a break and gift yourself a do nothing day. You need to get yourself out of any bad mindset, and reset. You are the most important person right now.
Now, if you have the opportunities out there to get a coach, or a counselor, or for any kind of group support, I highly recommend you do that. This is why I created my Facebook Group: Widowed, Solo Parenting. Because I know that it’s really difficult to do this on your own. You’re Not Alone.
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