Anna Dusseau | 21st April 2020
Or daddy? I feel this is a universal post. And you already know the first two items, so let’s get cracking with the rest, shall we? Confession: I didn’t bounce back at all after my daughter was born and spent the two years between my first and second child feeling like a permanently sluggish shadow of my former self. But something clicked for me after my son came along and, bit by bit, I started to figure out how my mind and body works best. There is certainly a balance to be struck between pushing your boundaries a tiny bit but also giving yourself a break when necessary. I am hoping that one or two of my tried-and-tested methods of taking care of myself as a full-time homeschooling mum will connect with you. Please consider it a pick-and-mix; not a prescription. Let’s dive in!
“Homeschool mama, you can’t be everything to everyone. You are not taco night.”Kara Anderson
Grapefruit, ginger, garlic, olive oil and red wine These are my top food groups. Kidding? Not a bit. Grapefruit is a tangy metabolic turbo-charger and I often have this for breakfast with toast and butter, and a black coffee. No nonsense. During the day, if I can include ginger, garlic and extra virgin olive oil in my diet, I absolutely will do. Again, these ingredients are full of fire which keeps your body working optimally, as well as being nourishing and full of vitamins. Red wine, well, of course. Antioxidant and all that. So be sure to find out what makes your body tick and stick with it.
Laugh at the drop of a hat. And if this doesn’t come naturally to you, give it a go and soon it will be. I always used to get ribbed back in the day, for being the girl who would constantly throw my head back and bark with laughter, but you know what? It feels great. Like the Buddha, I recommend laughing over anything and everything; sometimes with delirious, half-arsed laughter but, more often, with genuine belly-shaking, what-the-actual-fuck hysterics (not a direct quote). Life is funny. And kids are funny. Consider yourself a permanent cast member of a low-budget, unscripted situation comedy and you’ll do just fine.
Feed your brain. Right now is the time to figure out who you are and what you’re into. We are a bilingual family and since we started homeschooling, I’ve realised that I want to push myself to learn another language. Oh seriously, who is this bushy-haired blog bitch, anyway? No, but listen up. If you are switched on and developing yourself mentally, you will feel good from head to toe and the effect radiates out to your whole family. Go for it and try that Open University course you’ve been mulling over, read that book gathering dust on your bedside table, or have a go at launching your YouTube baking channel. Life’s too short, right? Right.
Have a favourite podcast. Ooooh I’m going to drop a bombshell here and say that I am – very proudly – about to launch ‘Homeschool Coffee Break’ podcast with a dear friend and fellow homeschool mama. Don’t all shout at once! I already know this is going to be your new weekly fix. But without a doubt, COVID-19 is the time to find your person; that podcast voice to connect with and engage you with the topics that matter. And hey, commitment-phobes, podcast-popping is not monogamous; you can get around a bit. My current fix is Katherine Ryan’s ‘Telling Everybody Everything’ which I treat myself to over the weekend when I pretend the risotto needs stirring and just zone out for 25 minutes. (Thank you, teenwolf..)
“You are responsible for your life. You can’t keep blaming somebody else.”Oprah Winfrey
Get to know the tiny flatmates. There’s no secret here; spending your day shouting at the kids and hustling everyone around like a sergeant major makes you feel exactly that. So take this golden opportunity of being in quarantine with your family to really listen to the kiddos and engage with what they have to say. Sure, we’re all guilty of responding to our most tenacious followers with the one-size-fits-all ‘mmmm-hmmm’ when we have been mentally travelling to the Turkish steam room at Champneys, rather than listening to how Dora dug a poo hole with a stick, but honestly? These guys are actually very good value and if you can reduce the amount of unnecessary nagging and increase the time spent making dope (don’t question my 90s slang; you love it really) tunnels for your son’s RC collection, the better you will feel about yourself.
Get your game face on. Whatever it is, make time for it because if it matters to you, it matters, okay? A friend of mine gets up every morning at 6am, showers and has a cup of tea on her own reading the news before kick-off. What a legend! This is a girl with class; unlike me. Mine is eyeliner. I’m going nowhere without it. Fuck fresh-faced; I’m well past the point of tinted moisturizer and a pony tail. So, whatever it is that makes a difference to how you feel – from boxer braids to matching socks – just make it happen and get your day off to the right start, every time.
Find your big league industry idol. This is such a game-changer, because finding that figure in your industry who embodies everything you love about your work is not only great inspiration, but also can help focus and channel your thinking when trying to squeeze work in under the pressure of the current international isolation experiment. For me, it has to be restaurant critic Jimi Famurewa, whose writing makes me feel mingled despair and devotion every time I read his scorching column in the Evening Standard. What is your industry and who is your idol? Find yours and, even better, one day go ahead and become someone else’s.
Pump up the jam. My regular readers know that we listen to music all day long here and are more likely to be found on the kitchen table twerking to Doja Cat than testing each other on the five times table. If you don’t already use music to set the soundtrack to your day, now is the time to get experimenting and see how it makes you feel. Whether it’s Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or Beyonce, there’s a time and place for everything. My secret weapon? Bob Marley’s ‘Stir it Up’. Like, nobody needs Super Nanny (remember that show?) when you’ve got uncle Bob sat on your shoulder mellowing your mood and reining in the screechy who-dropped-the-yoghurt-pot voice. Pretty sure reggae is registered as an official form of CBT, no? It should be.
“What is happiness? Happiness, I think, has to come in the beginning, truly, from feeling a sense of well-being within yourself.”Goldie Hawn
Delegate and don’t feel bad. If, like most people right now, you guys are juggling working from home and managing deep-end homeschooling, then you are probably feeling fairly stretched. But are you really sharing the workload? Because if you’re still planning the meals, folding the clothes, structuring the activities and just giving your other half a glorified babysitting role, then you need to change it up. Handing real responsibility over to your baby daddy isn’t going to end in disaster. In fact, it might make both of you feel a whole lot better. Just try to check sarcasm when dinner is pesto pasta again. Because it turns out guys don’t like being asked to step up and simultaneously kicked in the nuts. Give everyone a break, delegate, and eat the damned pasta.
Duvet rides and piggy backs. Do you travel by duvet? If not, why not? There are few pleasures in life that compare to being wrapped up like a burrito and dragged down the corridor with the kids firing Nerf guns at close range into the back of your head. If you have children and aren’t acting, at least some of the time, like one yourself, then you’re missing out. Start small (like, ‘babe, can you carry me home from the car? I’m in a piss-taking kind of mood..’) then work up to hijacking your daughter’s scooter next time you’re in the park and seeing if it will take your weight to do a few tricks. Always know that the potential risk of spending six weeks with a sprained wrist is, on balance, well worth it.
So, you’ve slapped on your favourite lippy and have introduced Alexa to Prince. What’s the takeaway here? I guess, more than anything, what I want every parent to feel is alive in their bodies and connected with themselves and with their families. Simple enough and, for those of you who are familiar with my posts, predictably crystal-healing-esque. But I believe it 100%. And no, I’m not just the cranky lovechild of Mary Poppins and Dita Von Teese. Life is too short to be serious. I know you know this, too. So be playful today and put your mental wellbeing first, because your approach to life acts as a powerful role model for your children. Let’s hope they always eat well, listen to loud music and laugh at the drop of a hat. And let’s hope they learnt it from you.
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