In my July review – Monthly review: family and friends and sunshine – I shared some photos and reflections of my wonderful time away during the school holidays. We managed to get a quick trip in before Melbourne went back into Stage 3 restrictions. I was grateful when I wrote that post, but with what has transpired since writing that post, my gratitude for getting away even if it was only for a week has quadrupled!
On Sunday 2 August, Melbourne went into Stage 4 lockdown. My state of Victoria was declared a state of disaster due to rising second wave of COVID-19 cases. Curfews were put in place from 8pm to 5am and we can only leave our homes in the following circumstances:
- To purchase food and necessary supplies. This must be done within a 5km radius from where you live. Only 1 person per household can leave for essential goods, and only once per day.
- Exercise once a day for up to 1 hour within a 5km radius of your home. Gathering sizes will be limited to 2.
- For care and health care including accompanying someone for essential medical care if you are a carer, guardian or necessary support person. The 5km limit does not apply to care or caregiving.
- Work. Study at TAFE and university must be done remotely. The 5km limit does not apply to work.
As I wrote in one of my newsletters at the start of August:
While this situation is hard, we also know as a family we are also very lucky:
- We have a home
- We have each other – while we can get on each other’s nerves at times, we are not alone
- We have our health
- We can at least leave the house once a day
- We have jobs – both my husband and I are still working, as are the uni students who have casual jobs in essential services
And we made it through August okay! Here are some things that helped me make it through:
Letting it go
For me, I have found that when these announcements come about new restrictions I allow myself a bit of time to really feel it. There is a whole range of emotions – disappointment, sadness, a sense of loss, anger and frustration. And then I let it go. To lead my family well, I need to focus on things I can control and making the best of the current situation. For me dwelling on it just makes me feel worse. Research finds the same thing too:
Brooding, by nature, is not solution-focused thinking but emotionally-activating thinking—and not in a good way. Besides getting us upset and releasing stress hormones into our bloodstream, brooding has been linked to a host of psychological and physical problems such as alcohol abuse, eating disorders, and cardiovascular disease.Source – Psychology Today
These current stage 4 restrictions do have an impact on my ability to achieve my goal for the year which is to Simplify daily life to spend more time with family and friends. In terms of spending more time with my immediate family – consider that box ticked! But outside of the home, we are not seeing family at all which is hard. I try not to dwell on this and focus on making sure I see those I can within my 5km radius,
As I note in my monthly review table below, I have borrowed a treadmill which has meant that I have been able to do my running on the treadmill and then use my one hour of outside the home exercise to do some walking catch-ups with friends. These have been wonderful and I am trying to do more of them.
Zoom is great so you can chat with friends and family that are not in your 5km radius, but I think most Melbourne folk are getting pretty Zoomed out! I am trying to think of some more creative ways to stay in touch with those we cannot see, so if you have any suggestions I would love to hear them!
Goals and plans
With every day feeling pretty much the same, I have found it even more important that ever to have my goals for both work and personal. This gives more purpose to my days and the activities I choose to do. I feel very lucky to have a job where I get such wonderful feedback (almost instantly) on what I do. This helps me to keep working towards my goal and gives me motivation when I am feeling flat or distracted.
When I came back from my time away in July, I didn’t get back into my usual daily planning. There was definitely a notable drop in my productivity. I was more scattered in my approach to my work – I felt a bit all over the shop, but I refocused early August and went back to using my weekly to do list process. This small change made me feel so much better – probably because I felt like I was more in control and as noted above, there isn’t much I can control at the moment.
My to do list really helps me to keep me on track for home and work, and when I am more on track, I feel happier. When I am happier, I have a much greater chance of parenting the way I really want to. The flow-on effect of my simple to-do list is quite huge!
While we still have a few more challenging weeks ahead of us here in Melbourne, with better weather coming and letting go of dwelling on things I can’t control, I am looking forward to a good September.
How was August for you?
August monthly review
|Habit||Connection to goal - Simplify daily life to spend more time with family and friends||Quote - “A simple lifestyle is good for us, helping us to better share with those in need.” ~ Pope Francis||August Review|
|Simplify our evening meals (make one meal a week meat free)||With five kids, two being older teenagers and one being an adult I need to cook a lot of food. These three also have who casual or part time jobs, so having family meals with everyone eating at the same time is becoming increasingly more difficult.|
The types of meals I cook now need to cater more for different sittings of meal times and also larger volumes so they can eat left overs for other meals as needed. This can be time consuming and I want it to take up the minimal amount of time, giving me the greatest chance of eating a family meal with as many kids as possible.
I need to simplify some of the meals I make to make this happen and I also want to reduce meat intake in the house, so want one meal a week to be meat free as well.
|"If you want to change the world, go home and love your family." ~ Mother Teresa||You can read the changes I have made to this habit in this post here|
|Simplify our home cleaning routine||We have the kids involved in doing work around the house across the week, but it isn't as streamlined and as simple as I would like it to be. We also have a different system of contributing to the housework once kids leave school, so I need to work on simplifying how we all contribute to keeping the house clean and tidy.||"The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment." ~ Marie Kondo||As noted last month, my husband and I have a pretty good rhythm going leading the home cleaning routine. With everyone home all the time at the moment (or home nearly all the time!) making sure we lead by example is key to the house staying in a state that is conducive to my sanity and so everyone can do their work/study in a neat and tidy space.
We have always done a nightly reset, but have found that this is even more important at the moment. Mess begets mess, so having the house sorted for the morning at least starts us off on the right foot!
|Simplify my exercise routine||Running will be my focus for 2020 but I would still like to keep up strength training and do some yoga. I need to work out a way to fit this into my life without taking up too much time or feeling like I have too much to do.|
Both the strength training and the yoga help my running, so I need to find a way to simplify how I can blend them into a routine.
|“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day." ~ Henry David Thoreau||At the start of August (just days into the stage 4 lockdown for us Melbourne folk), I had an 8 week running plan written up for me. As we were being limited to only one hour of exercise outside of the home a day, I wanted to make the most of the time I could run.
I have loved having the plan. If there is a session planned, I will program it into my watch the night before and then I don't have to think too much about it and just do the session.
The only thing I have to think about is where I am going to run and making sure I stay within a 5km radius of my home. For most of August we were not allowed to drive to where we wanted to exercise. Living in a relatively hilly area does present some challenges when you are trying to do workouts. I have just had to accept that I have to go more by effort than what my actual pace times are. However, there have been some faster last few minutes of my runs as I speed up to make sure I am home within the hour!
A couple of weeks into August, I was lucky enough to borrow a treadmill from my sister (thanks so much!). This was awesome as it meant I no longer had to cooldowns in my drive way - running 3km back and forth over a tiny distance isn't the most enjoyable way to run! I have never been a fan of the treadmill but I am so grateful to be able to add some extra running to my week with it. By the end of August I had built up my long run again to 30km by breaking it into my one hour session outdoors, then onto the treadmill once home.
I have been consistent with two strength sessions a week and at least 5 short yoga sessions a week.
|Declutter one item a day (can be averaged over a week / fortnight)||There are cupboards that are too full, bedrooms that look a little messy because they have too much stuff in them. I find I am spending too much time on managing the stuff of the house.|
I want to work slowly over the year to really pare back the belongings we have in the house. I feel much calmer with clear surfaces and minimal mess.
|“Three Rules of Work:|
Out of clutter find simplicity.
From discord find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” ~ Albert Einstein
|I did a few things throughout the month but could have done more. I find I do much better when I have a focus for the month, so will choose to work on my bathroom and kitchen cupboards in September|
|Spend an hour outside each day||Being outside is so good for me in so many ways and good for the kids too. I find the pace of things slows down when I am outdoors. |
With my running I do spend time outside everyday, but often in winter this is when it is still dark. I want to spend time outside in daylight hours and also use this time to be with the kids where I can too - who also benefit from more outdoor time.
|"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~Lao Tzu||More sunshine and better weather combined with not leaving the house much has meant I am easily spending my time outside each day.
I actually find having my breaks outside is better for my work productivity and it is definitely better to give my eyes a rest from the screens.