This month, our blog posts revolve around one theme: taking care of your own needs so you’re better-equipped to take care of your kids.

We’re reminded every time we fly: “In case of cabin de-pressurization, put on your own mask before assisting others.” This instruction sounds counter-intuitive to a parent, as we’re programmed to think about our children’s needs first – but it makes sense. If we don’t keep our own strength up, we can’t be of assistance to anybody.

So this month’s “things to do” post offers some ideas to help parents carve out a little time for ourselves. If you have more to suggest for other parents, please share them in the comments – the more, the better!

  1. Find a pen pal. We’re all feeling a bit confined in this 14th month of the pandemic. Meeting someone new without having to leave the house is a way to freshen up your circle and give you new perspectives, without having to risk exposure to viruses or invest much time. There are a number of websites to help you find someone who shares interests with you – give one a try.
  2. Kick up your family photos. You don’t need a zillion-dollar camera kit to take great photos in the age of smartphones. There are a number of courses available online specially geared toward helping us create great images using nothing more than our phone cameras – including this free one on Skillshare. Your Winnipeg Public Library card also gives you free access to lyndaLibrary, which offers a huge range of online courses you can do at your convenience.
  3. Conquer a walking/running challenge. Mass marathon events have been put on hold during the pandemic, but “virtual races” are offering new ways to keep fit without feeling alone. Even if you’ve never considered distance walking or running, there are races you can do at your own speed.
    Check out The Conqueror Virtual Challenges, which allow you to cover a set distance on your own time, and then log it to update your progress and access a community of others around the world who are virtually conquering the same goal you are. Current races include distances from The English Channel (33 km) and The Cabot Trail (297 km) all the way to Route 66 (3,669 km). As you progress along your trail distance, you get photos of your virtual location along the route, and you unlock e-postcards you can send to your cheering section as you hit certain milestones.  And when you finish, you get a great-looking medal in the mail, to motivate you toward your next conquest.
  4. Start an online book club. Get yourself out of your own brain, and find new things to talk about with your friends (or new people, or both!). There are sites that can help you get one started and running – all you need is the commitment to regularly devote some time to yourself.
  5. Set up a Zoom game night with friends. Lots of games have online versions (check out Codenames, for example), and there are sites offering curated lists, like this one meant for office colleagues but absolutely do-able for other groups of friends. The key here is to give you and your friends a reason to just hang out together without having to come up with things to talk about. Have everyone order in snacks, open a bottle of something they like, and just enjoy one another for a while. 

We all have our favourite things to do – whatever is do-able given your situation and will re-charge your batteries is the way to go. Just do it; and if you have to, tell yourself you’re doing it for the kids. Because they’ll benefit from a more-energized you!