2020 sure got real all of a sudden, didn’t it? After the horror of Australia’s bushfire season, we were just beginning to ease back into our lives, to rebuild and carry on, with the resilience that we Aussies are famous for, when Coronavirus unloaded on the world …
These are sobering, difficult and uncertain times for us all – our businesses and livelihoods are flailing; we’re worried for our families’ wellbeing, some of us don’t know how we’ll settle this week’s grocery bill or whether we’ll be able to find what we need once we get to the store. (There has never been a better time to switch to reusables, just quietly!)
And yet, amidst all this worry, there is opportunity. Many of us now have boundless free time – to focus on self-care, perfect that skill we’ve been wanting to learn, or simply to breathe and be for a while, before dreaming up our next moves. Some families have unprecedented time to reconnect with each other, without the distractions that daily life brings.
I don’t mean to sound flippant about a serious health and economic crisis – there are days I scour reliable media articles and idle in a state of perpetual WTF – but on others, I am doing my best to surrender to the current situation; to enjoy the lack of hustle and bustle and lean into my new role as home-school headmistress.
My eyes are wide open to the fact that I enjoy a privilege which essential workers, and those less fortunate, do not – to insulate myself and my children from the craziness outside of our snug and safe walls and safeguard our health, as well as the health of our more vulnerable Aussies.
I have the utmost reverence for the healthcare workers, teachers, aged care workers, customer service staff, delivery drivers, early childhood educators and so on, who, I’m sure, would like to be at home with their families, but bravely persevere to keep our world turning in these turbulent times.
I see it as my duty, as someone who is fortunate enough to work from home, to isolate my family and make society safer for those who have to venture out into it. And while this poses its own set of challenges, I’ve never been the type to shy from one.
Even as an introvert, I so look forward to weekend outings with my family and the exchange of harried hellos as I pass other parents at school drop. There is a reason that isolation is used as a form of torture: we humans are social creatures; we’re not wired to be alone.
Now is the time to go retro and actually talk to those you’re missing. Email and Messenger are great but there’s no substitute for hearing a friendly voice on the other end of the line. I am loving the way that people are innovating to recreate mate dates in self-iso – breaking out the board games and vino and catching up via Zoom.
And when it comes to the people you’re quarantining with, there may come a time when you want to hear anything but their voices, and that’s only natural! Arming your household with plenty of activities that you can do, both together and alone, will prevent your confinement crew from descending into madness and mutual loathing.
I’ve compiled the following ideas, which I hope will inspire you to connect with yourself, your family and nature, and find some joy in these surreal times …
Grow an edible garden
Fresh air and sunshine are the perfect antidote to self-isolation – what better way to get both than to create your own garden oasis? With so much stockpiling going on, having a selection of fresh produce at your fingertips is the ultimate comfort.
Our current situation has highlighted to me just how vital it is to be self-sustainable; my measly backyard efforts, comprising a few herbs and ill-tended tomato plants, seem woefully inadequate. Autumn is the perfect time to plant garlic, onions, baby spinach, snow peas, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce among so many other favourites.
Our lovely seed kits are a wonderful addition to any garden. You can choose from our herb collection, including coriander, dill and basil, and our flower kit, which includes flower species carefully selected to attract pollinating insects. Be sure to select spray free and non-GMO seed and plant varieties for a thriving, nutrient-rich garden.
Arts and crafts weave their own brand of magic on children – my two can play happily for hours at a craft table or easel – but it’s not just kids who can benefit from a creative outlet. Where art develops kids’ fine motor skills, decision-making, memory and social skills, adults enjoy stress relief, enhanced brain productivity and a good whack of dopamine.
The main drawback of most craft materials is that they’re teeming with plastics and other wasteful materials. This colourful, biodegradable Washi tape is the perfect alternative to conventional sticky tape, featuring a 95% recycled paper core. I love creating with natural materials or making items with a purpose. These gorgeous Sunprints use flowers and leaves from your garden to make stunning sapphire artworks and our DIY beeswax wraps offer a sustainable substitute for cling wrap.
For younger kids, you just can’t beat playdough and I was thrilled to find this simple, gluten free recipe that’s completely natural. Use food items, like turmeric, berry juices and matcha to colour the mixture, and I adore adding a couple of drops of a kid-safe essential oil, such as sweet orange or lavender, to enhance the sensory experience.
- 2 cups gluten-free flour
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 Tbs liquid oil
- 1 Tsp cream of tartar
- Mix flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a large bowl.
- Add water and mix again. Knead with your hands until your dough is nearly formed.
- Add colouring to the dough or split the dough into smaller portions to make multiple colours.
- Knead in the colour with your hands until fully incorporated.
If you’ve got school-aged children at home, you might’ve been giving your best teacher impersonation lately. There’s just one problem with that, you probably haven’t done the four years of intensive study required to practice as a teacher. I read an illuminating social media post by a teacher, recently; he said that parents can’t possibly replicate the school learning experience at home and that striving to do so will only cause angst.
School dominates a huge portion of our children’s lives and they’ll likely never again have an opportunity like this one, giving them so much time for unstructured learning, play and exploration. There’s so much more to life than the three Rs; why not sit outside together, observing and drawing what you see? Display this beautiful bird feeder in your garden and watch for the colourful characters it invites in; learn about the importance of bees together, creating a DIY bee home for your yard; get into the kitchen and create some healthy treats – teach them what you know about the different nutrients in foods and how they help our bodies; read together and above all, PLAY! Puzzles, hide and seek and board games are proving a huge hit at our place.
And when it all goes a bit feral, as it sometimes does with young ones at home, I’m not above chucking the kids an iPad for half an hour and letting Reading Eggs babysit, so that I can enjoy an ounce of peace. Self-care is SO(!) important in times of heightened stress. Please be gentle with yourselves and each other – the world needs a whole lotta love right now. Do whatever you feel is right for you and your family and please take care.