COVID19 life Parenting

Day 111: self-discipline vs self-criticism vs self-love

July 4, 2020


As I have mentioned, my survival mechanism right now is to focus on each day. It is absolutely a coping mechanism to zero in on habits and tasks. It can be rewarding, too. It is fun to meet goals and check off boxes.

It can also be a recipe for a little tooooo much obsession with living in some sort of unachievable (and arbitrarily chosen!) “perfect” way.

Gretchen Rubin refers to a concept of Upholder tightening, which is when Upholders become more and more rigid about a set of (often self-imposed) rules. There may be an element of this. If you have too many rules for yourself, it can become impossible (or at best — just very tiring!) to always be following them all.

Things I found myself chastising myself for yesterday:

1- spending time looking at Instagram (primarily my planner/bujo feed). I get so many ideas there and it’s fun. Screen Time says it was 54 minutes. Which is perhaps not ideal, but it’s not disgusting either.

2- eating more processed food than is ideal (which I don’t do all that often so . . . should it really be a big deal?)

3- not having the energy to clean up our house perfectly

4- not getting up early enough to have finished my workout before the kids were awake (I did finish it but the last ~25 minutes were interrupted by getting G breakfast, etc)

5- trying to get the kids (well, particularly G) to play independently so that I don’t have to stand over them 24/7

6- not getting in 10K steps (we did not take a walk — only swam — and it’s actually kind of amazing I still got in 6400 steps merely chasing the kids around the house)

7- not being able to prevent toddler tantrums or remain 100% zen/patient while they occur

I am looking back at the pictures and clearly it wasn’t a terrible day. But I had (mostly) negative thoughts.

Going to try to work on that today.

everyone insisted on getting in the pool at 9.
another satisfied attendee at Annabel’s Drawing Class
(led by Annabel and actually . . . she’s a shockingly good art teacher!)
our family Hamilton-watching lasted exactly 5 minutes. Oh well. Will have to try again maybe when G is not awake.

PS: Happy 4th of July. Not feeling very patriotic this year. Maybe I will feel better about this country on November 4th.


  • Reply Sara July 4, 2020 at 7:42 am

    Your pool looks amazing! Our neighborhood pool Is open by reservation only and we haven’t used it yet this summer. My friend went yesterday with her family and said she felt it was safe (and we’re both being extra cautious, so I do trust her, but am not 100% sure I’m there yet). It is brutally hot in northern Virginia right now though and am reminded that the pool is really the only outdoor activity that is fun lately 🙂

    Hope you can take it easy and have fun with the kids today. It’s so hard during the pandemic since I feel like we should be more “productive” around the house, etc. but then realize that we are trying to work two full-time jobs (from home), take care of the kids, and clean the house without any outside help like we are used to. And all while living with a semi-permanent state anxiety over the entire state of the world. Here’s hoping for a happy November 4th!

  • Reply Cecy Mora July 4, 2020 at 7:53 am

    I’m soooo with you on 3, 5 and 7… but specially on 4, thinking I should start waking up early to do some kind of exercising! It’s very hard considering the very cold winter mornings (in Melbourne, Australia!)

  • Reply HJ July 4, 2020 at 7:54 am

    Fellow Upholder here! Totally relate to your comments above, including not feeling July 4th festive. I hope today is a better feeling day for you!

  • Reply Irene July 4, 2020 at 8:12 am

    Thanks- this was a helpful thing to read this morning. Right now while everything around my family seems to be going to shit I feel like I have to parent! Plan! Make risk/benefit decisions! Perfectly to make up for everything else. I struggle during these times when my best is very likely to not be enough. I probably can’t find some way to undo the impact of the pandemic on my kids, my husband or myself. I do think I could probably do more to help my kids play independently (I hover or actively play with them most of the day and it’s just too much). If you have any resources or tips I’d love to hear!

    • Reply Sara July 4, 2020 at 5:35 pm

      My kids had a lot of trouble playing independently pre-pandemic. I always tried to spend a lot of time playing with them when I wasn’t working since I felt like I should (and I did miss them!) They just turned 6 and 4. I kind of made it one of my “goals” during the pandemic to get them to play more independently. I tried 5 minutes at a time and started gradually increasing the time. I’d tell them I’d play in “x” amount of time and stick to it. They’ve gotten much, much better! Just keep with it and keep trying 🙂

  • Reply Omdg July 4, 2020 at 11:18 am

    Haha well for me, I decided I wanted to go on some low key walks in nature with my family. So I found a list of trails and I am like, “there are so many, now I cannot choose, and now we will do none.” I also have this feeling of needing to do all of them. It’s a sickness, I am telling you.

    I am grateful I never caught the “perfectly clean house” illness, but I definitely have the “I am a terrible person for telling, not exercising, not being zen enough, not getting enough work done, wasting too much time, and failing to enjoy the moment enough” disease. So, right there with you. If identification of my own ridiculousness is the first step, where do we go from here?

    • Reply Omdg July 4, 2020 at 11:18 am

      *yelling, not telling

  • Reply Coco July 4, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    I am starting to read the book “Resolve for Happy” and it actually says that our thoughts are not us, and that we should observe and let it go instead of entertaining them which often time lead to more negativity. Also, happiness should be our default state, which means we should be happy (as when we were born) if we remove unhappiness. What makes us unhappy? when reality falls below our expectations. 🙂

  • Reply Katie July 5, 2020 at 1:28 pm

    I definitely experience Upholder tightening – of late, no surprise, it’s been primarily around adhering to social distancing and other COVID prevention practices. It’s easy for Upholders (and many others, I’m sure) to seek refuge in perfectionism when the world feels scary and uncontrollable. I have to check myself on it, though, and try to be careful about the thoughts I’m letting myself engage in. Lately I’ve been trying to rehearse the thought “I am taking a reasonable amount of precautions against getting COVID”. “Reasonable” seems to be a really helpful word for me, and maybe it could be for you, too – “I’m getting a reasonable amount of exercise….spending a reasonable amount of time on my phone” etc.

    And yes, 100% with you re: not feeling patriotic. Not at all.

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