What is helpful?

Back at the beginning of this year, Penny, Kelley, and Amanda chose the themes for Kin Women for the whole year. And I am amazed by the timing of this particular theme.

The other authors this month have done a brilliant job in covering how we look after others and ourselves, and where we get our strength from in this season.

So, to finish off this month, I thought I would share with you what has been helpful for me in this season. Lists are useful, they help to articulate what is working. But just as important as my list of what is helpful, is a list of what is unhelpful. I need to look at both of these side by side to keep myself on track.


Saying yes:

When my kids approach me with random creative requests, I am trying to say yes as much as possible. They have had so many no’s in their lives recently and I am trying to balance it with more yeses. Sometimes, of course, it is a request for more screen time. But other times it is more random, like the day they spent most of their time playing in our car boot (it’s okay, it’s a station wagon … and I left it open). Or the day they got dressed in their fancy Christmas dresses and we then went for a walk down by the beach.


Yes, a number of cupboards have had an overhaul in this time, and my email inbox (while not totally under control) is looking better. I know this is a symptom of wanting order in an out of control world. But hey, it’s working for me so I’m going with it.

Making room for all emotions:

It is okay to feel deep empathy for those in other places who have lost their loved ones.  And it is also okay to enjoy snuggles on the couch. It is okay to feel both. One does not negate the other. We have had anger, sadness, frustration and apathy in our little household over the past month. We have also had joy, gratitude, kindness and generosity. It is hard work to hold space for the less pretty emotions, but it has been important.



I am naturally someone who wants all the information before making a decision, and I often seek a variety of opinions on what I should do. The reality of this season of life is that what works for my family and their particular circumstances may not work for yours. So, it is unhelpful for me to do the usual research I would do. Instead I am making decisions based on what gives me and my family the most peace. 

Pressure to create:

There is a narrative in this season about using this vast blank space of time to create a big creative work. But my reality is all my family at home and if I subscribe to this belief that I must use this time to create, then I put myself under pressure.  My full house is not conducive to the deep quiet writing I like to do. So, I am giving myself permission and I am not beating myself up if I’m not creative. 

Internal focus:

Yes, we are all called to stay at home, but I am naturally a person who withdraws in times of anxiety and stress. I have a tendency to overthink and overanalyse. I can spend too much time focusing on my family or staying inside. It is not healthy for me and I need to get out. This can be physically going for a walk; talking to someone who is not my family; or serving others with a gift.

This is not meant to be a prescriptive list. You may well find that you resonate with some of these and not others. What I have found though, is the process of articulating this either aloud or in writing has been very useful. Maybe you want to take some time to write your own helpful/unhelpful list and find what works for you in this time, and what doesn’t?

Peace be with you,

About Jodie McCarthy

Jodie is a writer, speaker, poet and mother. An unashamed words girl who writes to process the myriad of experiences of life. In her writing and on her blog she investigates the journey of life: the beautiful; the painful; the everyday; and the mundane. She has a heart for encouraging women on their life journey, particularly when that journey traverses the harder places of grief and pain. On the days when she is not writing you will find her in her kitchen, usually licking the beaters from a chocolate cake. You can find her books and follow her journey at jodiemccarthy.com