“I’m done with COVID.” It’s a sentence said often nowadays, a year into the global pandemic. People are fatigued by restrictions. People have faced the tremendous sadness of losing loved ones to illness. People’s lives have been changed forever. The underlying stress of the uncertainty of it all is so constant, people don’t always know why they feel down…they just do.

No person on the planet is untouched by COVID-19 and SelfDesign learners, families and educators are no different. Most families are now together 24/7. Learners don’t have the same opportunities for activities with other children in their communities. Parents and caregivers are finding themselves with less time to recharge. It’s no wonder that self-care is an important topic.

Director of Organizational Learning & Culture, River Meyer, and Library Manager and A SelfDesign Path Facilitator, Marianne Butler, are on a mission to help families with this very important issue.

River created A SelfDesign Path in 2009. It is an interactive, online course that explores the heart of SelfDesign philosophy, a learning approach grounded in love, freedom, curiosity, play and relationality.

Engaging with Path takes participants on a personal journey of self-reflection and wondering, an exploration of what touches us in our heart of hearts: our beliefs and ideas around our relationship with self, with children, with learning and with all life.

This year, River and Marianne added in a section related specifically to self-care. It emphasizes the importance of self-care and how vital it is for the family as a whole. Self-care teachings are also taken from the course and shared in the SelfDesign Bulletin so parents and learners who are not in the course have access.

“Self-care to me is like what they tell you when you get on an airplane,” said River.”If there is a loss of pressure, you put the oxygen mask on yourself first, and then you help your child put on theirs. Because you can only do the best parenting you can do if you’re feeling strong, centered and balanced; if you’re feeling full rather than empty. Putting on the oxygen mask of self-care first is really an important thing.”

Self-care is something that can be modelled by parents for their children. For instance, parents may need to alter their list of what they think needs to be done. If you’re saving a child’s nap time to clean the house, maybe let go of cleaning the house and take some time to put your feet up instead. Find a way to read a book for a half-hour, or write poetry…whatever makes you feel full. We have to re-prioritize the things we think are important in our daily lives as part of a family.

“There is a huge importance for parents to have a transparent and honest conversation that really states your own self-care needs,” said River. “So that you’re not pretending that you’re telling your child to go outside because it’s good for them to get exercise, when really what you need is a break. An open conversation about your needs helps to create an environment of mutual respect, because your children start hearing what it is you need, and you’re giving them what they need.”

Another self-care tip from River revolves around changing the way you define self-care. You may think that doing fun things with your kids is a way of taking care of yourself or creating personal time, but it’s not.

She suggests that “of course, continue to do fun things with your kids but remember to separate your personal time. Put yourself on the list of things to do because it’s very easy to say that you’re on the list somewhere but if things come up, you fall off that list. Try scheduling time for a walk in the woods by yourself or a Zoom coffee date with a friend.”

“We are models for our children, and we’re always telling our children to take care of themselves,” said River. “We’re always telling them to be healthy, take breaks and get enough sleep. But we are the models showing them how to be. So our actions need to match our words. It’s so important.”

If you’re a parent of a learner in the SelfDesign Learning Community, register today for A SelfDesign Path. It’s a great resource for self-care, mentoring, presence, relationships and so much more.