You Can’t Pour from an Empty Cup

June 2, 2020, Shirley Rubio Blake

It is officially the month of June which means we are just halfway through the year, 2020. All I can say is wow. My year started off alright and overall it has been quite the adventure thus far.

I am a total planner and problem solver but the current situation is clearly out of my wheelhouse. Many times, I have felt a bit stuck. When my children ask me questions about school, summer camps and other activities we normally participate the answer is honey, I don’t know. I then follow it up with what I do know is that I love you, I am here for you and then I fill them in for the plan for the day or time being.

Our quarantine started March 13th and since then there have been significant changes in our household. Like many families our family is also experiencing high levels of stress as there are many things to adjust to.  The hardest one for me to manage has been distance-learning while trying to work from home and having a toddler to be present for. A couple of weeks ago I knew I needed to reach out for help because I was a little tired and it seemed as if I was pouring from an empty cup. I reached out to my son’s teacher to let her know what we were trying to manage at home. She is a great teacher and was helpful in offering options for adjusting the workload. Next, I reached out to my director and asked her if I could have a couple days off from work to be fully present at home. My director is very supportive so that was a success. I was able to take a couple of days to catch my son up with his work and be fully available to support him in his work. Communication goes a long way and asking for help is part of parenting. I reached out and was able to adjust my work schedule to be there for my son.

We are living in a very strange time and the last thing I want to do is make it harder on my children and family.

Ensuring I am well rested, exercising and taking moments throughout my day to be in silence and mediate is really important for my well-being.

I have been taking time every day to be very intentional and sit with my kids to simply talk and be together. The other day I went through a feelings chart with each one of my sons to help them identify how they were feeling. It helps me to remember to be more understanding and empathetic. When I emphasis being understanding, it is easier for me to practice patience. Being patient and flexible is needed when there is not concreteness in what is going happen. Planning for school in the fall, childcare or other activities is harder than usual. When I focus on the things I can’t do I get a little more frustrated. Therefore, I have shifted my focus on practicing patience and being more understanding. When I shift my focus, I feel calm and grounded. I have started to pay more attention to things that bring me peace or joy which end up being tiny things. Which leads me to sharing an exercise I do with my kids called tiny happy things. In this exercise collectively, we think of and verbally announce tiny things that make us happy. Every morning my tiny happy things are being alone for mediation and reflection while sipping on a warm cup of coffee. My sons’ tiny happy things have been enjoying breakfast, playing in the sprinkler and watching their caterpillars meta morph into butterflies.

The last thing I want to share is the question I frequently ask myself, how do I make this more fun? I remember my younger school days being great, I loved school and learning. The other day while “homeschooling” there were tears and it made me sad to think that learning was not a fun experience. I thought, it doesn’t have to be this way how can I make this more fun? Even though we are more limited than usual on what we can do we can still have fun in our current lives asking ourselves how do I make this more fun is one way as is listing tiny happy things.

Life can seem overwhelming at the moment and taking moments throughout the day to replenish has been helpful to me. Life is to be enjoyed as much as possible, today included. If you need inspiration follow our Pollywog Facebook page. Be sure to check out this month’s newsletter around childcare.

Until next time, peace.