I’m really struggling this school year. I want to be with my baby and I miss him so much during the day. When this school year started he was 7 months old and I already knew that I wanted to be with him but couldn’t afford to quit my job. Recently my husband got a raise and not having my income anymore seems more doable for our family.
I am not only miserable but I also feel like I have a totally different calling in life right now and that is to be with my baby so the tension of growing into a new person with new goals and new plans makes it so hard to stay in a way of life that feels outdated.
We have 6 and a half months to pay off as many bills as possible and save some money before summer break starts and I finish working. Meanwhile, making it through these remaining months is proving to be excruciating and I find that I have a terrible attitude at school and just getting through the day is using up all my bandwidth. I do not have the capacity to do all the extra things that I personally feel a lot of guilt about ducking out of.
As is typical of my outlook and attitude I am trying find ways to make life happier for myself. This is how I have always operated in the world, whenever I go through hard times I am very good at self-care and making sure I have good moments every day. I am the lemonade maker when life hands me lemons. Good moments put me in a better place emotionally which affects everything.
My lemonade in this case is ritualizing random moments throughout the day by thinking of how to slow down and create more feelings of enjoyment. Feeling dead until I can leave work and go to my baby is just not working. It’s not sustainable. I don’t want to look back at this beautiful time and remember it as being filled with anxiety. I’m alive the entire day, not just starting at 4 pm.
Here are some of the things that I’ve come up with to help me get through the weekdays:
Putting on Makeup in the Morning
I have had a subscription to Ipsy makeup bags for a few years now but I don’t actually wear makeup unless it’s for a special occassion or I’m going out. Then when the baby was born I definitely didn’t wear makeup. But now I’m up before the baby. I get up at 5:30 AM and he doesn’t usually wake up until after I’ve already left for work. My husband is the one who takes care of him in the morning and brings him to daycare. I not only have time to take a shower but I have also started putting on makeup most days. In the past, I’ve not worn makeup on a daily basis because it sometimes makes me feel too fancy and out of place in my normal everyday life, but honestly I’m happier right now feeling “too fancy”. Too fancy feels just right. And it’s OK to feel out place because I already feel out of place since I want to be somewhere else anyway. I recently heard someone say that rituals can be an outward reflection of what is happening inside. I used to only wear makeup on special occasions and now, during this transformational time, I like making each day feel more special by wearing it.
Later Departure Time
I used to leave for work at 6:30 in the morning. Never later than 6:45. I would get to work at 6:50/7 AM. I loved having the time to set up my day, check my email, make my coffee, and set up my classroom for the day’s projects. I don’t even try for that anymore. I’d rather spend the extra time at home taking care of myself and making my morning more enjoyable and doing chores and helping when the baby wakes up early.
I have a sparkly bag full of manicure supplies and throughout the
day I file my nails and moisturize my cuticles. Vitamin E oil is my favorite product, I put that on between most of my classes, I paint my nails once a week and touch it up as needed. Over the weekend I take my nail polish off and start all over again the next week. My nails and cuticles are actually nicer and more cared for than they’ve ever been before.
Tea After School
I have an English family and having tea at basically every transition time is usual for them. Its something I love about visiting England and about visiting my mom (who is not in England but still very English). Drinking tea is a nice moment of mindfulness in that I stop what I’m doing to enjoy something. I get home after 4 pm and that is too late for me to have caffeine but my mom gave me decaf english tea and I make myself a cup and have biscuits and tea while Ezra and I share an afternoon snack when we get home.
I also have a teacup collection on display and instead of letting it sit unused, I’ve started using my cups more frequently which also makes that time of day more special.
Teaching my Coping Strategies to Students
I have a lot of ways to try to pivot my thinking to be more positive and journaling is one of them. I have a cadre of prompts and I try to write on them at least once or twice a week as I find time. One of my prompts is “wouldn’t it be nice if…”
And I fill in the blank in a bunch of different ways. I got this idea from one of the Abraham Hicks processes. I have my students sit in a circle and we all share one “wouldn’t it be nice if…”
Answers range from goofy (wouldn’t it be nice if I had a million IPads) to extremely serious (wouldn’t it be nice if my dad weren’t in jail). Some kids want to skip it and I let them so its very low pressure. It makes me feel good when a class is able to open up and share and respect the other student’s in the class enough to truly listen and sometimes comfort them if needed.
Another thing I personally do as a coping strategy is to try to do something nice for someone else. So I try to find things for my kids to do that are nice for other people to help make them feel good and it really helps to know that I’m influencing at least some of them to do good things in the world. One day I found a note in the pump at a gas station left by a well meaning stranger that gave some general affirmations such as “you are incredible,” “you are so loved by so many people,” etc. So I told all my students about it and then together we brainstormed about nice things to write in anonymous notes and where we could leave them.
I was listening to the priestess podcast (listening to mystical themed podcasts during my commute to try to find new ideas to change my approach to this difficult season is part of my daily ritual also) and Alexandra Roxo was guest speaking about the importance of rituals in our lives. It was a really good time for me to hear what she had to say because it’s something that I’m putting a lot of thought into lately. A lot of times we think of rituals in a judeo-christian sense where you go to religious services once a week, or even in a more current western way going on a yoga retreat or mindfulness. But ritualizing the mundane can really help us reclaim a feeling of control over our lives. Haphazard moments become more purposeful and considered if we make more parts of our daily life more sacred and special. Putting attention on daily activities and being purposeful about them elevates them thereby elevating our overall sense of what life is to us. My days weren’t feeling very special so I’ve taking the time to find what parts I can make special so I look forward to more than just 3:50 pm when I can leave work to go be with my baby.
Here was a particularly favorite quote:
“What is a ritual? It’s a moment or activity or practice that you imbue with meaning.
An externalized representation of something that’s happening internally. As you do it again and and again it becomes sacred. It’s a way to connect to the divine, to each other, and to ourselves.
When we reclaim these moments in our days, we reclaim our moments in our lives as something sacred.”
A Question for you
What rituals do you have in your life that makes you enjoy your day a little or a lot more? What rituals do you think you’d like to add or at least try out? How do you get through hard times?