23 Mar 8 to 5
For five and a half years I’ve tried so hard to keep as much work at work as possible, so when I’m home, then I’m home. Now all of a sudden (overnight actually), this structure I’ve been working so hard to achieve has literally been flipped on its head. I’m sure the same applies to many of you reading this. Now, it’s work at home and parent at home and wife at home and play teacher-teacher at home. It’s all at home and I don’t think it’s not going to change anytime soon. So, it’s all a bit wobbly. It’s all become a bit blurry. It’s all quite overwhelming. It’s all a bit of a pressure pot.
Each of us, no matter how old or young, is used to our own 8-5. We’re used to the coffee on the way in to the office, we’re used to the free play time before library morning followed by letterland on the mat, we’re used to time away from our families before coming together again each afternoon and evening. We’re not used to breakfast, lunch and dinner all together on any given Thursday. We’re not used to online music lessons, ballet via Instagram, kids video bombing calls with clients and colleagues and screaming from downstairs for snacks while you reach wildly to find mute on your conference call. So, for families working and schooling and everything else at home, how do we prevent this pressure pot from exploding? How do we get used to this new normal?
Here are five things that have helped me in the past week:
1. Start each day focused on what you’re grateful for. Choose three things each morning. Write them down. Draw pictures. Stick it up where you can see it. Keep reminding yourself of these three things throughout the day. Choose another three things tomorrow.
2. Plan! Plan out each day. Just because we’re not driving to school or work each day doesn’t mean we’re on holiday. Schedule your alarm clock, meals, exercise, family time, work time, video calls. Put it all in your diary so it’s visible. Try and stick to this plan as much as possible. This is really important. If you don’t schedule these times out, the lines will very quickly become blurry and you’ll start feeling anxious about either not being with the kids or not being at your computer. When it’s planned out, it’s clear. Stick to it!
3. Communicate. Talk to your spouse, work together to plan the day to fit in their commitments as well as your own (they cannot read your mind!). Talk to your kids and explain what’s going on and how you all need to help each other by listening, tidying up together, being quiet when mom is talking to someone on her computer, doing their best to concentrate on a letter worksheet or craft activity. Talk to your colleagues. Many of them are in the same boat as you and will completely understand these unique circumstances we’re all in. If they don’t have kids that need home schooling, snacks 25 thousand times before 10am or walks to get fresh air in their lungs, tell them. They also can’t read your mind.
4. Let go of perfection. Just do it.
5. Breathe. Deep breaths in and out, with your eyes closed. It releases anxiety. Do it together a few times a day.
Take each day at a time. Today is today. Tomorrow is tomorrow, a brand new day with a fresh new start