Being a Wife, a Mother and a PhD student
Although living in this unprecedented situation
where family members are altogether all the time is such a nice feeling, it is
different when it is not a holiday. Working/studying from home, parenting and
home schooling can be very exhausting if new lifestyle changes are not being considered.
My experience during the lockdown has changed the
way I was usually managing my daily responsibilities markedly. Starting the day
not in that rush I used to be in; dropping my kids to school and having a nice
walk to the campus; chatting with my colleagues before starting working from my
convenient workstation; is being a missing part of my day.
My supportive husband and I have started the
quarantine by setting a day structure to be able to do our three main jobs
together: parenting our twins, home schooling, and accomplishing our works. Day
by day, this was getting harder, to be active all day is not an easy mission on
the long term. Unfortunately, my energy was reduced and I was getting exhausted
without being able to have a rest throughout the day. Ultimately, I realised
that living as we were in the normal circumstances before COVID-19 is not being
easy, and so, I needed to re-adapt myself!
One beneficial session I attended before the lockdown;
introduced by the Doctoral College during the wellbeing week was “Self-Care for
a Better Happier You!” presented by
Natalie Steel; “How we think and respond to everyday situations has a
direct impact on our level of happiness”. One
important skill I still remember is our ability to control our minds as we are
as human beings in the fullness of our own company. Our MINDs!
And so, I have started to think wisely about how I
could control my feelings towards the BIG responsibility I am dealing with, to
be a good mother for little six-years old twin boys, and a successful PhD
student heading to my first year annual review. For all parents in the same
boat, here there are my new experience recommendations after getting better
Realistic with your Goals:
Reducing my normal working hours was necessary, which is also
supported by the university policy for those who have caring responsibility “to
do whatever you can do”. Still, it is extremely important to use your time very
prudently. Making a new work/life balance is a very critical starting point for
a self-satisfying progress. At the beginning, someone might think this would
affect productivity, however, day by day, feeling the relief about working
effectively even for less time is much better than stuck in that circle; feeling guilty about not being able to focus
on work for a full working day as usual.
2. Train yourself to focus in
As working in a quiet office is no longer possible, you need to
increase your endurance and flexibility. During the last two weeks, I was
training myself to be able to focus in a noisy distracting working environment
– either my children’s loud sound, or TV-cartoon fuss; these are things not
always under-control. Also, it is necessary to keep in mind our children are
also struggling and missing their friends and school, and living the new
strange life routine, and this is not easy for them to adapt too.
3. Look after your
Do Meditation/Yoga: I found it not only a relaxing exercise to
do in your spare time, but also ESSENTIAL for your resilience! It will teach
you a new skill in controlling your body parts, starting with basic inhalation
and exhalation exercises until developing yourself into controlling specific
parts of your body, such as normalising your breath and clearing your
mind. This in turn will help in relaxing
your muscles and improving your cognitive skills to focus on your work comfortably.
4. Look after your
ME TIME: Specialising a ME time is no longer a pampering
interest. It is very important for you to look after yourself to be able to
give care to others. Either enjoying your daily skin routine, a Sunday extra
one; or having an early morning walk either on your own listening to prayers or
your favourite music, or with your family jogging around your block would be a
good start for your day. Activating your blood circulation will activate your
mind to better focus on your research.
5. Look after
Providing a healthy meal for your family and your self is very
important. Make sure you are doing your best to prepare healthy meals and snacks and always
remember to cook with love!! For a well organised home cooking menu, I
usually prepare my cooking list on the weekends and sort out all necessary
ingredients and shopping items. This will give you a piece of mind of what your
family needs every day all week. I usually start the day by a multi-filling
healthy dish that energise bodies and keep everyone full until the main dish
time. I add healthy antioxidant smoothies as a healthy snack in the mid-day to
my daily list as well.
That was my entire experience since Covid-19 changed our lives.
I believe that other mothers/fathers are finding it difficult to cope with. I
have been inspired by a blog that was published in the university newsletter by
Lynsey Heap, Publications Officer about her
experience in working from home and parenting. And so, I want to inspire other
PhD students in the same boat. And always remember, everything will be alright,
it is a matter of time! However, we need to adapt and learn to use this time
well and wisely.
Yasmin Jaaron (Abu Al Hla)