This one has taken me some time and reflection to pen down over a couple of weeks, its a long one, but hopefully someone somewhere may find a little bit of support, comfort and help in it...
Across all my social groups I hear but one call, “overwhelm”. Why is this so? Does this not trouble you? The fact that so many people feel overwhelmed over our current state of reality really is disturbing on so many levels! Some people are overwhelmed by the amount of work that they have to do because a) their house help is no longer there and b) their family is at home so there is too much to do. Now I don’t mean to belittle anyone by saying chill you should be able to do all that, because no, it is not right for anyone to say that, no one knows the other’s situation, commitments, restrictions or abilities. But what I will say is the solution is actually simpler than you think!
This current life we are living is not normal! We are not going to be in this state forever, nothing is ever forever, that I can guaranty you! No one is coming into your home, no one is there to judge you, if you can’t manage to do everything you think you should do in one day then relax, there is always tomorrow! What you couldn’t get done today, can get done tomorrow, if it doesn’t get done tomorrow, then there is always another tomorrow! We put too much pressure on ourselves to live up to our own unachievably high standards! I am not saying lower your standards, its good to want to strive to becoming your ideal, but let’s ease off the pressure shall we! These are not normal times, so let’s leave those standards for normal times shall we. For now live how you can, make do with what you can do and for heaven sake get this message firmly across to your family, (for those that this concerns) you are not on holiday, you are not in the midst of a celebration, you are in the middle of a crisis!!! Food is on ration world wide! So stop acting like you are in a 5 star hotel and demanding for fancy dishes 5 times a day!! Come on you people wake up and look around you! There are families who have lost all income and have not enough food to get by, so let's stop pretending this is a very long public holiday because for a lot of people it definitely is not! (breathe breathe breathe, sorry I had to get that out of my system first!)
Now I do not mean to say by the above that we should be all worried and it’s doom and gloom, but I keep reading wives being demand upon to cook 5 times a day fancy dishes! That is outrageous if you ask me! Now is not the time to be living like a king, but a time to be living smart. Spend less time and ration on cooking; cook healthy, cook smart, cook fast and maximise your produce to its full capacity!
Suddenly parents have to do a lot more than their daily “normal” lives like being their children’s teacher, nanny, best buddy, fitness instructor, IT whiz, and heaven knows what else more! So at a time like this having to spend more time cooking than your normal daily routine is really not helping! Unless you are teaching your children to cook and using that as the day’s lesson plan you should really be spending the least amount of your time actually in the kitchen cooking. So let’s get this straight with our families shall we; don’t be a tart, cook smart!
Now that is just one pebble on the beach, there are far more pebbles to be touched upon.
Some people are being overwhelmed by their children and how to cope with doing right by them. Firstly, what is doing right by them? What you may think is doing right by them, might not be what it actually entails! Remember what I said above, these are not normal times so we need to let go of our “normal standards”. What do children need: food, warmth, cosy home, a whole lot of love and time! Once you have food ticked off, warmth and cosy home for most are thankfully already set. That leaves the two most vital ingredients for children, love and time! Yes children need to be educated, and they will be, trust in yourself, trust in them and trust in the act of education!
Education doesn’t come through books, books are limited to imparting precise and one dimensional knowledge, education is not dependant on books, it is dependant on the mind developing through all senses, processing all that it absorbs and deducing conclusions from it. That is learning! Once they learn, then they act on what they have learnt, then they learn some more from those actions and reactions. Retaining all of that learning and using it to aid one in life is what is called education! Education has no limits, subjects, restrictions, qualifications or quantifications, it just is!
You being present with your child not only teaches them that they are seen, heard, cared for, loved and safe; it teaches them how to live life, how to act when there is trouble brewing in the air, how to look after loved ones, how to manage the daily grind… how to be human.
For young ones your presence is all they need to learn so much! For older ones who you struggle to keep occupied with yet another game of monopoly, give them things to learn either with you through life skills or with you through researching a hobby, old or new, then either mastering it or compiling a presentation on it or otherwise. Or if they are into their late teens, allow them to manage daily life and it’s strings, which not only gives them a chance to experience it, but gives you a much needed helping hand in living through it. Or again motivate them to learn about something new that they may have always shown an interest in, remember it doesn’t have to be “intellectual”, it doesn’t have to be a part of the national curriculum. Learning is all around us, there is no limit to what, how and when you can learn something; embrace the act of learning! Don’t stress about what they might be “missing out” on, don’t stress over what they should be learning, take advantage of this unique opportunity life has just given them to learn something new, something completely different and unique to them and you.
Always remember we are not in a race against anyone, each individual brings to the table what they are, which is what “wins” them each opportunity in life. Don’t loose this opportunity to strengthen the beautiful uniqueness of your children, for that is who they are, that is what will carry them forward in life, that is what they need. League tables mean nothing in an interview in their dream field, passion is what shines through and sees them through!
Another thing I hear through the grape vine, lack of peace causing overwhelm. Some people are not worried about their children’s education or being demanded upon for too many meals, but they are struggling to find peace. Whether it is inner peace or outer home atmospheric peace. Either too many arguments are taking place or there is inner frustrations of being “cooped up”, or feelings of grief or loneliness due or restrictions on family contact. Or of course the big fear factor that is eating people up from the inside. Fear of not having access to essentials or fear of loosing family or fear of one’s own health. All of these leading to again feelings of overwhelm.
Now if you ask me this lack of peace is actually a more deeper rooted and greater problem than any of the others, regardless of what the reasons for it be. This actually exists in our normal daily lives and is either now just surfacing or compounding and sadly although the other two mentioned issues may well disappear post lockdown, this problem is one that will live on if not dealt with. But the good news is, as mentioned, this issue is irrelevant of lockdown, therefore it can be tackled irrespective of lockdown. This is not a matter of the mind, this is a matter of the heart! It can be insha’Allah tackled through healing of the hearts.
As always my first and foremost advice is hugging and holding. Children get easily overwhelmed and frustrated as do parents with their tantrums and demands as well as life’s demands. Hug each other and hold each other as much as you can, if your children are arguing just hold them, hear them don’t talk to them, just keep them in your arms until they recover. Honestly I kid you not, it works like magic, it will not only clear their overwhelming feeling, but also any that you may have been having. When you argue with your partner despite who started it, or who was right or wrong, stop shouting at each other and sit either in each others arms or next to each other holding hands and then talk it out, skin to skin contact can not only save the lives of babies, but it can save the life in your relationship. The best cure for arguments and overwhelm is holding and hugging, it diffuses the fire inside! Trust me! You might be thinking phish phosh, but it is not, chemicals are released and reactions taken place inside your bodies that is what calms you down, its not a load of nonsense its biology!
Now coming to feeling “cooped up” or grief or loneliness, I have touched upon this before briefly on my lifeline page on FB, but I will contemplate it further here.
If you are living with a family, as in are not entirely alone in a house and still then you are feeling cooped up or lonely then this should be an indication to you that there is something monumentally wrong here! A home is where one should always look forward to being, a family whom we live with should be all that we need to survive, it should be with whom we feel the happiest and safest with. If one is not feeling these things then its time to do a lot of deep reflection and soul searching! It doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you or your family as per say, but what it means is that you are not feeling at home with them or in your home. Now this could be for a variety of reasons either you are longing something for yourself that which you do not yet have, like for example a job, a career, a direction, or you are longing a connection with your family that you do not have. The latter is actually a simple matter but a complex one to fix. The way to go about it is firstly self reflection, think about firstly with whom it is lacking and then what is lacking, what type of connection is it that you long for that makes you feel lonely even in your own home with your own family. Then the next step after you have diagnosed the problem is the bigger braver step of addressing it. Raise awareness to the individual(s) of firstly this issue then the root cause of it and how you think it can be tackled. This last bit is the most tricky one, because it no longer involves just you, it involves others. Now firstly the difficult part is getting them to appreciate that this problem is present in your connection and it is costing you, then once you get that sorted the actual bridging of this gap is going to take long hard persistent efforts on both(or all) persons’ counts. But it is not impossible!! If you keep working at it insha’Allah one day it will be accomplished. But bare in mind as it is something you need you maybe the one who may need to work extra hard for it, be extra persistent with it and maybe have to put in most of the effort for it, but to reap the rewards we must first put in the back breaking work.
Now the other side of this, sometimes we live with persons that no matter how hard we try with, a gap can not be bridged. They make you feel lonely and unwelcome, in this case if they are not your spouse or children, then maybe it is something that needs to be brought up and addressed, but if it is your spouse or your children, then things need more serious thought and intervention. Families come in all forms, shapes and sizes, only we ourselves can know the true nature of our situations and we must reflect deeply, but sensibly and with clarity not emotionally and seek a truly plausible solutions for ourselves.
Even if you feel that there is nothing “wrong” with your relationships with anyone, nor is your personal purpose bothering you and you think neither of those are the reason for you feeling cooped up, does not mean that they may well not be the issue, maybe it is just you not being able to pin point it just yet.
Emotions are complex, sometimes they show their source other times it may need a lot of time and uncovering to reach the actual source because it is covered up in so many layers. Imagine an onion, you have to peel back layer after layer to reach the core. Sometimes this can be achieved on one’s own, other times it may need professional intervention. Psychologists are great but sometimes we need a little bit more than just conversational un-peeling sometimes the helping hand of simple homeopathic remedies are needed to help us uncover deep hidden emotional upsets. Whatever the case there are avenues to explore this and reach peace insha’Allah. The first and most important step is to actually recognise that there is an issue to start of with.
I think I best leave it at here for the moment and let one sit with these thoughts, for the biggest leg of learning is done in the space of silence.
I wish you inner and outer peace.
May we all find our stride and learn to dance in this rain!
This space features my reflections, opinions, ponderings and from time to time announcements of what I am up to. It literally is me in my corner on my soapbox.