7 tips for making the most out of downtime
Are you one of many who have suddenly found themselves at home 99% of the time? Working from home, educating our kids, and attempting to take advantage of some newfound free time is a huge part of many of our realities right now. It’s been easy to throw fuel to the fire of overwhelmingness when you look at how you’re handling it all in comparison to others. We have this downtime, but do we really?
How have you been spending all your extra time?
Have you successfully watched every movie and show on your watch list? Have you had any fun (social distancing) adventures with your family that you otherwise never make time for? Do you have a neverending to-do list that you never seem to chip away at?
There’s no nice way to put it…this coronavirus situation SUCKS!
But what better time to tackle some of this stuff we’ve wanted to get to than when we’re forced to stay home and have more free time than usual?
Wishing for more time
I know I’ve wished a thousand times for more downtime with my kids when our routine has been shipping them off to school or daycare and hightailing it to work. Weekends have hardly been relaxing as most of us spend them hauling kids around to activities and taking care of household chores.
We’ve suddenly been granted MORE downtime! You only get one chance with your littles…now is the chance to do all those fun things you’ve wanted to do with them (as long as it’s not in public and you’re six feet away from everyone not in your household)!
Before long we’ll be back to our chaotic lives. In addition to more bonding time with our children, wouldn’t it be amazing to feel accomplished and ahead of life when we’re able to get back to regularly scheduled programming?
Here are some tips for making the most of the downtime!
1) Use comparison in your favor
When we endlessly scroll social media feeds comparing our lives to others, we tend to come down hard on ourselves. We’ve all been there ― “I wish I had that, I wish we were like this, I wish we had a home like theirs, I wish I looked like her, I wish I was as successful as…I wish, I wish, I wish!” You get the point, right?
But what we don’t realize during our mindless scrolling is that 1) those people are posting only their best―what they want people to see 2) most of the people worth modeling after (and keep in mind, that is NOT everybody) did not get to where they are by just watching Netflix all day.
Comparing yourself to others is a waste of time and emotional energy. Instead, choose people you admire or find inspiring to follow. Be motivated by what they stand for rather than what they have.
2) Goal check
Use this downtime to do a little goalsetting. Here are a few things you can do to make the process easier:
- Self-reflect: Where do you want to be in the next year? Next five years? What habits do you currently have that prohibit the growth needed to get where you envision yourself? Use some of the downtime journaling your goals and the steps needed to achieve them. TIP: I have found setting a timer has helped not get sucked into one task too long doing this (or any other task).
- Make a vision board: This will keep your goals in front of you when you start to feel discouraged or a little off track. More to come from me on vision boards, so stay tuned! Make it a family affair by having your kids and maybe even your spouse create one, too! With summer just around the corner, consider making a family vision board full of activities you want to do before fall (think home slip ‘n slide, camping, family kickball tournament, etc.).
- Read a personal growth and development book: There’s an arsenal of this type of book out there. I recommend Insight by Tasha Eurich to get started. There are many great tools in the book to help you discover what your core values truly are and how the perception others have of you align with the perception you have of yourself. Whatever goals you have, there’s a book (or audiobook for you non-readers) to help you on your journey.
3) Be wise with your time
It’s easy to get sucked in binge watching shows we never had the downtime to watch before. Let’s get real though…that’s wasting our days away! Try one or two of the following to jumpstart your productivity!
- Use your favorite show as motivation: Promise yourself that once you get (insert thing you don’t want to do) done then you can watch one episode. It can’t be all work and no play, right? Work in intervals throughout the day, mixing in things you enjoy or find relaxing.
4) Ask for help
This can be easier said than done…especially when you know you can do a certain task faster or more thoroughly. With no official school, this is the perfect opportunity to show your kids (and maybe your partner) the ropes! Sharing household chores is an important lesson for kids to learn―and now’s as good a time as any to set future expectations.
Tip: Prepare yourself mentally to show your family members a bit of grace here. They won’t do something exactly like you do but eventually, they will learn to do things in a way that is actually helpful. Consider this an investment!
5) Bite off one task at a time
How many of you have made to-do lists where you literally just purge everything in your head that you want to get done? The list ends up being a whole page long. If you’re like me, you end up getting so overwhelmed trying to decide where to begin that you simply don’t.
Set reasonable expectations for yourself. It’s better to get one or two things accomplished than feel defeated before you start.
TIP: Make one master to-do list where you literally mind vomit tasks you want to get done. Each day write a list consisting of three things MAX to accomplish. If you have one of those rockstar days where you just fly through things, add a fourth. But if it’s one of those struggle bus days, you won’t feel like a failure if you only get one thing done. I mean, the list was short and you got 33.333% of it done! Woot woot!
6) Give yourself credit once in a while
Celebrate ALL the wins. If you emptied the dishwasher and nothing else today, it’s been a successful day! Focus on what you did get done rather than on what you didn’t. Rome wasn’t built in a day. That to-do list will be there tomorrow.
Create balance and remind yourself that you deserve a little self-care, extra cuddles with your babes, and in-home date nights with your spouse.
7) Focus on gratitude and mindfulness
Being thankful for the simple pleasures in life can go a long way in shifting the mindset.
Are you feeling disappointed in yourself for not organizing the coat closet? Don’t be! In place of disappointment, be thankful that you have the warm coats your family needed over the winter to stay safe. If you’re happy to have the things filling up the coat closet, it won’t matter so much if they aren’t organized today. And feeling grateful for all those coats might make sorting and organizing them tomorrow more bearable.
Did you play a ton of games with your kids? Did you laugh and make memories? Were you present in every experience that you shared with your family today? You’ll remember those moments more than what you didn’t get done, what you didn’t have at the time, and whether or not your house was clean.
To wrap this up, this social distancing situation won’t last forever. What will last is the memories you have of how you spent the downtime―the flashbacks of the funny things your kids said and did, the steps you took to reach your dreams, and the 302 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy you watched.