Resetting {Expectations} | Guest post for Isabella and Us

This is a guest post I originally wrote for Isabella and Us at the start of the 7th week of lockdown which I thought I’d also share here 🙂

I often find myself thinking about what a “perfect” day would look like.  Getting up early, having time to meditate, practice some yoga then get up and ready for the day before the rest of the household rises.  Sipping a hot cup of coffee whilst making a super healthy breakfast for my family feeling refreshed and motivated.  The house clean and organised.  Everyone happy; no-one rushing.  Right the way through to pulling a frilly eye mask over my perfectly cleansed skin {probably wearing silk pajamas} content, relaxed and ready to start afresh tomorrow.  

Reality, of course, does not quite match up to this movie-esq vision.  Yet I still find myself coming back to it with thoughts of “if I can just get up early and meditate” {noting I have never meditated in my life!} or “if I can just get the house together” then maybe I can get closer to this sought after life.  Well the house is never going to be together, I’ll probably never meditate and it’s taken me the best part of 36 years to accept that.  

What I should be taking from this recurrent daydream is not so much the need to do more but actually the desire to have and do less.  Less stress, less rushing around, less clutter to tidy up, less expectations put onto myself and less pressure to be everything to everyone.   

Last year I went back to work following maternity leave, launched my blog and started an on-the-side business.  I {foolishly} thought I’d have more time  when the boys started school that September and {as so often is the case with me} I went full-throttle mode into too much too soon.  Fast forward to the beginning of 2020 and what resulted was a full mental breakdown {read more here}.  I took 2 months off work, 6 months off the blog and agonised over what to do with my business.  In the end I decided to continue but with a much smaller client list.  At the time it felt like I was failing but I’ve since come to realise it’s not a failure, it’s just not the right timing.  

I needed to reset my own expectations and be clear about those put in place going forward.  I had 3 children who were 4 and under {at the time}.  I wanted to create a business that would work flexibly around my family and a creative outlet for my own mental wellbeing that would also offer support to others.  All whilst being able to pay the bills, feed our children and buy nice handbags {!}

Then of course came the COVID-19 lockdown in the spring of 2020.  A forced step back from reality.  Meetings were cancelled, schools closed, there were no opportunities for trips out.  Staying home and away from the hustle and bustle became the norm.  An opportunity to reassess how we do things, spend time with our young family and take a mental break.  My second spell at home during 2020!

Of course there were the added pressures of homeschooling, working from home, anxiety around this invisible virus, feelings of isolation and missing loved ones.  But in the place of the morning school rush there were lazy mornings.  In place of the brain-numbing commute were virtual meetings.  In place of fast food restaurants there were home cooked meals.  We started working out more, exploring our local area {within the set guidelines}, looking out for our neighbours, having family quiz nights and taking life that much slower.  We wrote letters, finished home projects, spent hours watching Star Wars, had home haircuts and were more open about our mental health.  We made virtual friends, built new networks, decluttered and rested.  We showed gratitude to those who were going above and beyond to keep us and our loved ones safe {thank you key workers!}  It’s been intense, it’s been hard, it’s been scary but it has also been healing.  

As we start week 7 of lockdown I have mixed feelings about what the end of lockdown may look like.  Are we ready to pick up the reins and get going again?  Will things be different or will we slip back into old habits?  What lessons will we learn from this?  

Will we continue to rush?  Take on more than we can cope with at this present time?  Will we still be honest about how we are feeling?  Or will we try resetting our expectations and adjust post-lockdown life to a new normal; making room for those habits we created when the world slowed down.

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