Due to the COVID-19 lock down and isolation measures, family life for many of us has changed dramatically. Rather than the usual routines of work, school, playgroups, clubs and meeting with friends, our days are unfolding within our own homes.
Certainly there is a lot to think about, a lot of uncertainty, worry and anxiety regarding maintaining our health, finances and employment. And initially at least, we may have experienced worry too about being at home with our children, what would home schooling look like? How would they cope? How would we cope?!
Yet what we also have here, despite all of the concern, frustration and anxiety, is an opportunity to slow down, to connect with our children in ways we may not have the time to usually and to experience a simpler type of family life.
We are so used to ‘doing’ being busy, productive and on the go, yet, as I explore in my book Milestones of Motherhood, what mothering brings us, is the opportunity to experience the shift from doing to being. And our current social isolation is the perfect opportunity to bring this into our lives more consciously.
Being with our children is a quality in itself. And it isn’t always comfortable; we feel like we are ‘always busy’ yet at the same time ‘getting nothing done’, yet when we start to shift our focus and begin to recognise that BEING there with our little ones, responsive, listening, available, is of great value and enjoyment much of the time.
Being rather than doing….
How does this shift into being feel for you?
What does it look like?
For me my days feel slower yet still constant and full of the children, the house and attempting to find space for my work. Yet, I’m not missing the rushing around to get out of the house, getting everyone in and out of the car. I’m enjoying having time to think and to make different meals with the limited ingredients and vegetables available just now. I’m enjoying having the time to say YES a lot more to what the children ask.
We have baked pies and jam tarts before we ran out of flour, we made individual bread rolls, salads and picked some tiny new potatoes from our garden which our youngest cut up into tiny pieces to roast into probably the worlds smallest chips.
We have sat outside, built the trampoline, bounced on it together for hours, filled the bird feeders and sat really still watching the different types of birds. We heard a seagull and lay looking up at the sky for what felt like ages, then we saw it, just the one solitary seagull carrying what looked like a twig in its beak!
We have found ladybirds and made little homes for them in the garden. The children have played long imaginary games all together for hours and hours, with no need for interruption for rushing off to scouts or swimming.
We’ve had SLOOOOW mornings where I’ve done yoga with a couple of the kids, really being able to take the time to listen to them, laugh together and have fun with the postures. We’ve read whole chapter books which have then been the springboard for inspiring the children’s story writing, drawing and imaginary play for the rest of the week. I’ve sat for HOURS being asked spellings as my 9 year old writes her alternative future for the Harry Potter characters. Then we’ve snuggled together at bedtime to listen to the adventures she has created. A friend told me how she sat with her little boy watching a hole in the wall for half an hour waiting for a bird to fly back and how much learning and connection she felt in this time.
We home educate anyway and have done for the last 10 years, so we are used to learning in this way, but even so, home education can be busy. I am really feeling the VALUE of this slow time. In fact I am embracing it, as I know once things return to some kind of normal, the busyness and the rush will creep back in.
I am enjoying the slower days, the chance for reading, listening, sitting together, BEING rather than the endless doing. I’m cherishing the way my 7 year old seems to want to sit and snuggle with me outside in the sun, just talking and talking about his Lego creations and all his ideas.
For all of this is valuable mothering work.
Aside from all of the fear and uncertainty, look out for the moments of connection and times of BEING in your daily life. Start to recognise the VALUE of simple connection with your little ones, and how whilst this time is far from perfect and challenging in many ways, as mothers there are also moments of stillness and connection which truly bring home to us the immense value of our mothering work and the absolute perfection of our children.
Clare is a mum of three, and an experienced pregnancy yoga and birth preparation teacher, doula and Forest School Leader. Her first book Milestones of Motherhood celebrates mothering as a journey of learning and transformation for women as we learn to love and nurture our children and is available now from Mother’s Milk Books.