When people say “self-care,” an image can pop into many minds. Sitting crossed legged in meditation with a lavender candle or an early morning hike in a forest. But for most families who are practicing social distancing, there is no possibility of attaining an idyllic vision of self-care. So what does self-care really look for families across the country now tasked with managing distance learning, work and life stress in confined space?
“Know that everyone is doing their best and that is all that can be done.”
It looks like…
Putting well-being before productivity
Whenever possible, set down a load. A literal load of laundry or an emotional load of a phone call from an anxious friend or family member. You don’t have to bring your best self to every task at hand. And asking for help with all these loads, even the ones you would normally handle without help, is essential. Set things down and simplify expectations for those helping. Set boundaries and ask the family to step outside their traditional roles to do new helpful things for one another.
Know that everyone is doing their best and that is all that can be done. Share and embody this sentiment…
As a Waldorf family, you have been given an amazing gift. When it comes to distance learning, your teachers truly know you! They know your student and your family and they will carry this experience and knowledge to the next grade, which means they’ll know what your student was able to accomplish, or not accomplish, in the home setting through distance learning. When your students begin again next year, everyone will know what has been done, what needs attention, and what great developmental and learning milestones have been accomplished.
For One Another
Your child, your family, your school, your teachers are all trying to do their very best in a difficult situation and everyone has a unique circumstance. Someone with a new baby or an ill parent or a newly defined “essential” job is going to bring different intention and energy to what they can do in these unique times. Let’s agree to approach these times with forgiveness and flexibility; simple expectations and love.
Waldorf pedagogy rests upon routine. It is how we build security and confidence in children. Setting the day in a predictable manner, gives people the space and boundaries they need to feel secure and thrive. But rigidity in trying times could have the opposite effect. Flexibility will be necessary. So as you build new family routines, as you should, allow yourself and your family leeway in and around established ideals.
Unplugging and going outside
We all know the benefits of nature and reconnecting with seasons, cycles and simple beauty. Stepping away from the news, with intention, can allow us to recapture the small joys and beauty in our everyday worlds. Your children, especially Waldorf students, do this well. Let them lead you outside and away from your smartphone and laptop. Make breaks in your life to do what they know how to do well — play outside and be reverent outdoors for the leaf on the ground, the newly bloomed flower and the special-shaped clouds in the sky.
Mindfulness comes in many forms, including being in nature as mentioned above. It can come through stillness with a book of poetry or meditation practice. It can come through deep breathing in a harried moment. It can be a new practice of sharing gratitude around the dinner table or in a journal. It can even be that idyllic meditation with a lavender candle. No matter what it is, prioritizing making a little space each day for it, will go a long way towards greater well-being.