Hello after a long break!
I apologize for keeping quiet. If you follow my social media, you probably already know that I’ve recently started a new job, and it keeps me busy beyond what I’d imagined! At the same time, I’m still a mom of two without a full-time helper around, so I guess you can picture how hectic life has been. 🙂
You might wonder if I made a typo in the post title. “Sane”? Did I mean “safe”? Nope, sane is exactly the word I was aiming for. I’ve been isolating with the kids since the beginning of March (started while we were still in Poland), so it’s been almost 3 months! We are currently staying in an apartment, with a small balcony being the only safe outdoor space.
While isolating, I’ve come to an obvious, but important, conclusion: the more frustrated I am, the less patience I have for the kids. The less patience I have for the kids, the more they are misbehaving. The more they are misbehaving, the more frustrated I become. The circle closes.
As a result, I decided that I will have to make small adjustments to my life and schedule, which will allow me to focus more on myself and my own wellbeing. In the end, you can’t pour from an empty cup. It wasn’t an easy task: given the restrictions that Qatar has introduced, most outdoor activities are out of the question (and I’m not suicidal enough to go for a run in 40-degree heat, wearing a face mask 😉 ).
Below are 10 small-big steps that kept me (relatively) happy and feeling like I’m in control of things. Some might sound obvious, but they worked perfect for me, so it’s only fair to include them! I hope you can find something to incorporate in your routine. Take good care of yourselves! x
1. I stopped feeling guilty about going to work.
Resuming work after almost a year of a break was not easy. I kind of felt guilty about leaving my kids with a child-minder. As crazy as it sounds, I felt like it’s my “sole responsibility” to stay with them and take care of them. In the end, it was mostly just the three of us for the past 8 months or so. However, once I learned to look past those feelings, I’ve re-discovered the pleasure of being “the boss”, and the satisfaction of making a difference in the business setup. My self-esteem grew significantly, too. Also, those short hours spent in the office gave me a much-needed breather from the house environment. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids and I love being a mom, but spending time with them 24/7 in a small apartment for such a long time took a huge toll on my well-being. I needed my work to provide the counter-balance.
2. I learned to prepare for the next day in advance.
I started my new chapter in Qatar drowning in chaos. Life threw me into a completely different setup than what I got used to over the past couple of months. Suddenly, I had to remember so many things and take care of a lot of additional stuff. Oftentimes, I caught myself in the morning, almost-late for work, realizing that I forgot to prepare lunch for the kids. Or that Adam’s homework wasn’t printed. Or that there’s no milk in the fridge. The list went on. I had to do something. By readjusting my afternoon schedule, I managed to find time to make all the necessary preparations for the next day. I’m still perfecting this, but I’ve already started to wake up much less stressed and stopped being late to work. 🙂
3. I found time for personal development.
You have probably read at least one of those covid-related articles about how self-isolating is a great opportunity to develop some amazing new skills, pick up a new hobby, practice yoga daily and bake tones of bread. Those were clearly written by people who don’t have small kids at home. 🙂 However, I couldn’t help but find them a tiny bit inspiring. If those people could do all 101 things listed in the articles, surely I could do 1, even with two kids on board. And so I thought about what really interests me and subscribed to a course about self-development run by a Polish psychologist (if you understand Polish and you’re interested, drop me a message and I’ll share the details. It’s awesome 🙂 ). Doing this made me feel good about myself, and gave me a much-needed distraction from all the home-vs-work action.
4. I incorporated one 2-hour long (I’m not kidding!) relaxing bath into my weekly routine.
This one, for me, is a real lifesaver! Each week, I coordinate with hubby and agree on the time when he takes care of the kids exclusively, and I disappear in the bathroom with wine, snacks, and a book. I still remember the first time I got to do this, I actually CRIED. I was so happy and relaxed. Those 2 hours charge my batteries for the remainder of the week. Totally recommend! 🙂
5. I started exploring the endless possibilities of indulging in sweet treats in Qatar.
Ok so I did gain some weight during the isolation. But honestly, I don’t mind. One of the things I really appreciate about Qatar during this time is an abundance of food delivery / take away options, both from restaurants and from home cooks and home bakers. I’m ok with treating myself often because I friggin’ deserve it 🙂 My top picks (and some ideas for you to try) are:
— banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery (available via Talabat)
— red velvet cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory (available via Talabat)
— tiramisu from Lo Spaghetto (available via Talabat)
— pasteis de nata from Portugal Sweets For You (authentic, homemade, and finger-lickin’ good! Check their instagram: @portugalsweetsforyou)
— profiteroles from Euphoria (absolutely delicious, with salted caramel and mango cream filling! Instagram: @euphoria_delights).
6. I invested in second-hand books.
Unfortunately, with a limited luggage allowance, I didn’t manage to bring books with me to Qatar. Luckily, since it looks like lots of people are planning to leave Qatar in June, there are tones of books currently for sale on various facebook groups. I’ve subscribed to a Doha Books Sell, Swap or Buy facebook group and started spending money left and right. 😉 To my defense, after I’m done reading I usually post them for sale, too. I read everything that sounds interesting or that someone recommends. I’m not limited by genres, or put off by the fact that a particular book doesn’t represent anything more than pure entertainment. I’ve recently gone through some amazing Young Adult fiction. 😀
7. I stopped feeling shy about asking hubby for help with the kids. 🙂
This should be obvious. In the end we are both parents, with equal rights and responsibilities. I do have this silly glitch in my brain though, that makes it so hard for me to ask people for help. It’s kinda like I feel that I should be able to do everything on my own, and why would they help me anyway? Hubby is not very impressed by this trait of my personality, and therefore makes sure to encourage me by never saying “no” to anything I ask of him. Which is great 🙂 I’ve managed to grow semi-comfortable asking for various things: to take one of the kids to an appointment, to play with them while I rest a bit, or to prepare food for them. Also, to cook my favorite meals or bring me cookies from the grocery downstairs. 😉 This has made my life so much easier and so much more comfortable.
8. I shifted my bedtime to 10pm and started waking up early.
It was not difficult to do at all, since I was usually dead on my feet by midnight anyway, forcing myself to stay up, in order to have some more quiet time while the kids are asleep. The theory behind that was good, but it was completely counterproductive, since our usual wake up time is around 6 am daily, and I’m never happy with less than 7-8h of sleep. Also, Danny is sometimes surprising us with a random “I’m not sleepy, but also not awake and therefore I’ll complain now!” display in the middle of the night. I’ve weighed the options and decided that those extra hours of sleep will benefit me more than the questionable me-time while struggling to stay awake.
9. I stopped the urge to spend my free time shopping online. 🙂
One of the few positive things about the current situation is the fact that our expenses dropped radically. No more impulse-buying while cruising around various malls, out of boredom! Also, limiting our grocery shopping trips to bare minimum, and always shopping with a list. Why to spoil it all by spending excessively on shopping online? On top of that, delays in receiving orders are ridiculous these days and cause us extra frustration. 6th Street takes around a month to deliver, Book Depository orders get lost along the way, and I’ve been waiting for my iHerb order since mid-May. Shopping less = spending less = saving more = feeling happier in general! 🙂
10. I became a casual baker.
As if ordering all the treats from point 5 wasn’t enough… 😉 Those of you who know me are aware that I am not a big fan of cooking. I can cook for special occasions if I have to, but somehow I never seem to like what I prepare. I have my go-to recipes and don’t aim any higher than that (luckily, hubby is a great cook 🙂 ). Baking, however, is another story. Baking is fun, it brings me joy (along with some extra fat…), it makes me relax. I love taking staple recipes and giving them my own twist. I’m no chef, obviously, and I definitely don’t have the patience to bake for more people than my own family (and sometimes guests), but I am actively trying to better myself in this. Watch this space, as I’m planning to start posting some of my favorite recipes soon!
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