The moment I heard my husband say, “Did you hear we’re on a stay-at-home order come Monday?” I felt my life flash before my eyes. My social life, that is. I also felt my sanity, my comforts, my childcare at the gym, my beloved moms group, my nights out with other ladies, date nights with the hubby, friend gatherings, my time to write, and my photography opportunities flash before my eyes.
Then I felt the rush of panic — How will this work? What am I supposed to do with a 3 year old and a 1 year old all day AND all evening? How do I be an actual Stay-At-Home-Mom?!?
I immediately clung to structure, as I always do when big changes happen. I said a prayer and wrote out a schedule. After a week or so of monitoring and adjusting the schedule, we finally found a good routine. Then another week passed, and I felt pretty unproductive and uninspired.
One day I was walking on the treadmill and I asked God to show me a plan that would help me feel more joy and peace daily. And he gave me an acronym (which was helpful, because I’m a teacher by trade and therefore love acronyms). If you are stuck with negative feelings or thoughts throughout the day, or feel irritable or unproductive, perhaps this will help you too!
Every day, find time to P.R.E.A.C.H.
Exercise & Eat well
Appreciate your blessings
Connect deeply with others
Help someone else
I will unpack these below and share some ways I fit them into my day.
For everyone it will look different, but for me, I pray and read Scripture while exercising. (Meanwhile, my 3 year old runs and jumps around doing his “workout” too.) My other kiddo naps during this time. And man, I can’t believe how much of a difference I feel after exercising, talking to Jesus, and reading his word. I feel like a completely different person!
Eating well is an interesting and sensitive topic. I have a past with eating disorders, which could be another 10 articles in itself! For now I will leave it at this: in our home, we try to stick to an 80/20 rule: eating veggies, fruits, proteins and whole grains about 80% of the time, and about 20% of the time enjoying treats and sweets. Simply put, eating healthier foods is linked to better mental health.
Appreciate your blessings: Over the past year, through numerous venues, I’ve learned how we can combat anxiety by using gratitude. It’s a biblical principle, and research proves that those who often think about their blessings are overall healthier people who enjoy life more. Daily (usually while in prayer) I reflect on the many things (and people) God has blessed me with, and it brings immediate joy.
Connect deeply with others: I know it seems hard because we aren’t physically together with others, but we are in a special situation that will likely never happen again — where our household families are together most of the time. I try my best to have fun family time as often as possible. What a gift it is that we have so much uninterrupted time together with our immediate families! (And yes, some days I wish I could have some MANY interruptions, but I know this time will pass quickly and one day I will look back on it fondly).
Help someone else: I have found tons of ways to help others, even while staying 6 feet away! Because birthdays are hard for those in quarantine, I try to make them extra special. My kids and I have baked cookies, cakes, etc. and dropped them off at doors, bought a Trader Joe’s flower bouquet and dropped it off with a beautiful card, stuffed family member’s mailboxes with sticker and paint-filled art projects, and called friends we haven’t spoken to in far too long. We also do surprise drive-by visits and drop off artwork or small gifts unexpectedly, and the surprise is always welcomed! Helping someone doesn’t have to be a huge deal; it can be small and simple.
Once I implemented P.R.E.A.C.H. daily, my mental health shifted dramatically. I was finding more joy, peace, and purpose in my daily life. If you could use these tools to help your quarantine time, then give them a try! I am confident you will feel much better too.
Sarah Gonzalez is a stay-at-home mom who loves Jesus and caring for her two young children. She loves date nights and walks with her husband, and using creativity and humor through artistic outlets like writing and photography. She is also a self-diagnosed quitter-in-recovery, and you can read about this journey at her blog: www.wheniquitquitting.com.