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Grace is an importan part of self care. I say this out loud to remind myself, knowing I’m my worst critic. Honestly, there are days I hear that game show voice in my head saying, “Welcome to the Sh*t Show, and I’m your host, Jeannine!” Maybe even a gong. (If you get the gong reference, you’re my people).
Pandemic special needs parenting is a whole new level of challenging. Two kids, no school, a lack of much needed services, routine, and no extra curricular activities – my house is a little like a zoo these days, taking every bit of my energy to tame.
Working from home, I’m thankful for the mute button most days along with that little sliding webcam cover. You know, for the the day my kiddo nearly made an appearance half dressed, tangled in her shirt, asking for my help. Or the day I just kept going through my presentation while my husband managed a noisy meltdown upstairs as though it was just another day that ends in “y”.
I can’t forget the countless toilet flushes as kids go in and out all day. And, lordy, my hair. Lack of salon services has done me no favors. The sloppy (gray) mom bun has become part of my daily uniform. Forget work-and-homelife balance….. there are no longer work-and-homelife boundaries.
Good Days and Bad
On one hand, we’re getting it done — the reading, writing, online Zumba class, working, cooking dinner, and making masks. If I sing a happy tune and add some animal friends, I could be a freaking Disney princess.
On the other hand, I worry that my corporate professional persona will come out of this worse for the wear. Up until this point, I’ve been pretty good at separating work from my personal life. I think of work like a Facebook page that only shows that one picture where everyone is smiling. I don’t need anyone to see everything that happened prior to clicking the shutter button.
On the really bad days, I feel like I’m failing my kids as I watch the regression, no matter how hard I try to wear all the hats. I stare down a sink full of dishes, an endless to-do list, and piles of laundry wondering when I’ll ever find the time. No grace to be found.
Tune out social media
Those are the days when I try to refrain from reading endless posts from judgy-pants on social media. I cringe at teachers’ pithy posts about schooling at home – the ones dripping with sarcasm about how parents now finally understand what teachers go through everday.
Let me say that I value the work teachers do, and especially special education teachers. I have learned during this pandemic that I don’t have the patience nor expertise to fill those shoes. I’ve spent time beating myself up on the days when it becomes too much, or we just can’t get everything done.
On my stronger days, I remind myself that crisis schooling is not anything like what teachers do — because teaching is their nine-to-five job. They’re not working another job while teaching, and parenting simultaneously. My day job is not teaching. I’m moonlighting as a special education teacher, without the benefit of training, and doing it on the night shift.
A silver lining during this pandemic? I am learning to give myself grace. It’s an important part of self-care that takes practice, but not much time. It’s an important part of pandemic special needs parenting – but is important all the time. Grace can be defined as a merciful or compassionate nature, an act of kindness, courtesy or clemency; an exemption. We’re taught from a young age to extend it to others, but it’s simply not second nature to give ourselves the same courtesy.
I reserve grace for those days when I do the best I can, try my hardest, but can’t manage to get it all done. Grace reminds me that it’s OK.
There are definitely seasons in our lives that we may need to give ourselves grace. When our family will require more attention. Times when work/life balance is uneven. Seasons during an illness when we have to slow down.
Grace looks different for everyone and at it’s core is easing up on the high expectations we set for ourselves. It might be focusing on one thing each day that went right, to combat the voice that tells you otherwise. Or, it could be taking a few moments to breathe deeply and release feelings of anxiety or stress.
Whatever grace looks like for you, give it to yourself…because perfection is not attainable.
20 (realistic) Self Care Ideas (free download)
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