Wow I can’t believe it’s done. We reached the end of chapter one!
Our first year in Oman is not quite over yet, since we moved here in August 2019 but our first school year at ABA Oman, and even more significantly, our first 14 weeks of home-learning are officially over today.
14 weeks, 98 days mainly house bound, 3 kids, 3 different grade levels across Middle School, Primary and Kindergarten. Over, out and done. And we still talk and laugh (most days).
Needless to say, it was quite a rollercoaster year and I am beyond proud of how the kids managed with all the transition and changes they had to deal with this year. Not just the kids, me and my husband too. Yes, parents, we should take some time to give ourselves some credit too!
First the big transition from Tokyo, Japan big city life to small, desert and beach location Muscat, Oman. We faced an array of water leakage upon moving into our house, school closures due to floodings, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos passed away, followed by weeks of mourning, ant invasion in the kitchen, a burned out classroom, and then Covid-19 hit and all came to a full-on standstill outside. No standstill inside the house though. After all, we had to keep going. And that we did.
If you would have told me back in March I would be more or less confined at home plus dealing with home learning the kids over a period of 14 weeks…let’s say I would have been…I actually have no word for that.
Now we’re 14 weeks further and are looking at 10 weeks of summer holidays at home due to severe travel restrictions and still increasing numbers. Needless to say that that doesn’t make me a happy camper. But we all learned resilience and acceptance and meanwhile go with the flow, didn’t we?! At least on most days. On others, there can be frustrating, sad, lonely tears.
Nevertheless, all of us out there showed how adaptable we became. We went through times of panic, worry, some with grieve, to coping. Some days went better, some days were less good, but we coped. And we will keep on coping.
Take a moment to reflect back on these past weeks and be really proud. Every day was an achievement in these unprecedented times!
As said, our first 14 weeks of home learning might be over, but the country is at its peak and we have 10 weeks of (for now) housebound summer holidays ahead. With no school structure, yet still staying at home, we’ll now face a “same-same-but-different scenario”.
Yes, we all experience a pandemic but the experience in itself is (very) different to each one of us. But I thought I use the change of rhythm that we face with the summer holidays for a quick review on how I kept, respectively gained back, my ease. Because, let’s not hide the fact that no matter what, each one of us loses his/her ease in all this, or?
This isn’t only for you though. After all, I’m pretty sure I will lose my ease over and over again, too. And it will be good to remind myself on the tools at hand to not spiral down too deep.
When all this started so many schedule ideas have been shared and if you are anything like me, all the sharing felt awesome yet overwhelming. I wonder if people actually managed to keep their schedules?!
For us, it wasn’t feasible but I managed to find a good routine, rhythm. What’s the difference between a schedule and routine? To me, schedules are planned, structured, often with fixed time slots. Whereas routines are activities planned on a regular basis and with flexibility. We might end up doing it the same time for days but it feels a bit free-er. I can’t deal with rigid schedules, it stresses me out. And additional stress is the least I need these days.
But yes, what do I do to keep or regain my sanity?
Yes, I made sure to moved every day. Most days that included proper sweaty outdoor workout sessions on the terrace once I couldn’t run at the beach anymore. Occasionally, when I felt really tired I listened to my body and did a gentle Yoga practise.
But exercise for me is much more than “just” feeling physically well and strong. It became my mental anchor! As well in moments of stress and overwhelm I turn to it. It’s something that I can control, where I can really push myself and let the crazy world around me get quiet for a while.
But any movement is a good exercise, and even cleaning the house is movement!
I love sweets and chocolate but as the days went on I was opting more for salads and fruits. And most days now I take sweets with more awareness and see it as a treat. Nah, that doesn’t work everyday, because sometimes chocolate is needed to smooth over the strained nerves.
All about balance – he? Yes chocolate, a wine, G&T, bubbles, cake…everything goes in moderation.
I have to say I’m not one of those who jumped into all zoom calls etc. I simply felt overwhelmed after a while. But I do make sure I stay connected according to what I can cope with and to my needs.
No – very limited – news
That was a big one to change as I feared I go into a kind of naivety. But I needed to take that step to be more here, where I need to function, with my family and for myself. The news tended to push me into a downward spiral. Now I often just rather quickly scan the headlines. I know I’m missing out on things, but if that’s what it takes to stay emotionally less exhausted, I take it.
Me time, reading
I do like my quietness when nobody is in the house. Now that one was a huge change for me! Having people around me – constantly. As the weeks went by I learned to carve a bit of time away with a book or so and that has been accepted and respected.
With everyone around me learning I took the step to make learning time for me, too. And am loving it! Carving time isn’t always easy and I need to make sure to keep going once the more quiet school hours aren’t there anymore. But it’s important to keep my mind stimulated too.
Letting go and less “have to”
This refers to the schedules, all the fantastic recipes, exercise and learning programs. I learned to not get sucked into all the “have you tried, look at this course…”. Don’t get me wrong, there is amazing stuff out there but it was overwhelming and once I found my path I let go of the rest.
Same counts for the kids, too. I learned to let go more. Heck, if I feel overwhelmed, they have a full right to step away from additional pressure too.
I try to stay curious by trying a new recipe, book, podcast. But all in limits.
It’s so damn easy to compare what we do with others, isn’t it. How others manage home-learning, stay active, cook perfect meals, set up a business, expand their business, get involved locally, spend time with the kids…There was too much noise around me and inside my head and I needed to find my way. I turned inwards and listen more to myself and what my family needs these days.
The only more schedule related thing I started is for chores. And since that one is hanging the nagging and “but he/she did / didn’t do…” stopped. Now everyone knows what needs to be done on which day. No more asking, nagging. It’s on the board and we’re all playing our part.
Looking at the sky
When the walls are closing in, when it all feels too much…I look at the sky. So blue, so big, so wide and open. We are all under the same sky and hence connected even though apart.
It’s ok to feel low
Acknowledging that it’s ok to feel sad, frustrated, pissed off, annoyed, scared, lonely…you name it.
It’s a big one though as we want to be strong, and not lose our footage. But eating it all up inside isn’t good either. And it’s a big one as we tend to take others down here too, especially if they feel a bit off themselves. Or they’re on a really good emotional level and can’t deal with any “downer”.
And something to keep in mind – yes, telling others “you are strong”, “it could be worse”… are often meant in the kindest way. Yet, sometimes all we need is to be able to simply express and feel our emotions! They are valid. And hearing such comments might make us feel inadequate and as if we aren’t allowed to feel down. A (virtual) hug, a “I feel for you”, “I’m sorry you experience, feel, struggle…” and understanding go a long way in such situations. This isn’t about fixing something, it’s just about being able to express and let go of a feeling.
Puh, ok that was a bit longer than I anticipated. Come to think of it, we do a lot to stay sane, don’t we?!
But how about you, are you a schedule- or routine-person? What helps you to keep going during all this? I would love to hear, perhaps I can experiment with some other “goodies” myself to spice up my routine?
Having said all that…and as most of us near the end of chapter one with homelearning during Covid-19 I wish you (and myself) all the best of luck and good nerves and a lot of strength for the upcoming (10) weeks of summer holidays (at home)!
Due to the heat and ongoing restrictions, we will have to be mainly indoors for time being. I hope you can enjoy outdoors and perhaps even travel. But no matter what, what counts is to stay well, in body and mind! And to be there for one another! Because together we are stronger.
Find your ease, wherever you are