My get up and go just got up and went. Heard that one before? Well ... it hasn’t … yet … but it seems to me that it could be easy to lose direction in these uncertain times. All those messages of purpose and encouragement that we are being sent through cyberspace: to do something with our enforced isolation, to learn a new hobby or watch a fitness class online.
It can be a bit of a challenge to adjust to the new normal with all this uncertainty in the air and I find two questions spring to mind daily:
1. How long will we all be stuck at home?
… and ...
2. How can we fill the hours in a meaningful way?
To answer the first question, I think you’d need a crystal ball - and I don’t have one. And for the second, I think the answer lies in structure and goals, for we need these, however loose the structure and however small the goals. [Key words: loose and small.]
I liked the recent news story about 'The Garden Marathon' man who wanted to run twelve 100-mile races this year to raise money for charity. Coronavirus put a stop to this so he set up a circuit in his garden, complete with live-stream and a Facebook page. And he did it! 1254 laps in 6 hours - staying home and staying safe. Nothing small about that goal! (...search Gareth Allen and you'll see the pictures 🏃🏽♂️)
But for the rest of us who might not have quite the same level of drive and focus, what should those goals be? There are only so many hours of TV you can watch when stuck at home, and learning Russian, macrame or even how to make Baked Alaska might seem a little too ambitious. Below I share with you my simple list of do’s and don'ts when considering the weeks ahead: after all, it's always good to see how others are coping.
Jumping Yak - The Gems of Wisdom
- Get up every day before 9am. Otherwise the day is gone! Allow any teenage children leeway, but not too much. Encourage them to get up before lunchtime.
- Make a loose timetable of some kind - one that works for you. Keep it loose or you may find dissent.
- Plan some kind of exercise - Joe Wicks, cleaning cupboards, something … just don’t sit still all day every day. And if you don't manage it one day, don't worry - but plan to do better the next.
- Inject variety into your day. After all there are around 16 waking hours to fill in every 24. Try to add something new: reading if you don’t normally read, and for the children, something that doesn't involve a screen. One family I know is attempting a 1000 piece jigsaw each week. And just to show you how wide the choices are, I was at university with Victoria Coren who started playing poker with her brother and his friends at home when she was a teenager. At 33, she won the European Poker Championship. You never know where your hobby might take you!
- Teach your child some basic household chores. Even young children can help you to load and unload a washing machine. Last week, a friend of mine put her teenage boys to work on some domestic chores leading to amusing scenes as they learned how to vacuum and dust very slowly, and began to appreciate the effort needed to do housework properly. With older children, this is definitely a learning opportunity! 😂
- Do connect with the people you miss by phone, email and video call. I have recently acquired 'lockdown skills' on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype and Whats App.
- Do take time for yourself every day: read, knit, wash (!) … etc. only you know what you might enjoy. Many mothers I know try to find a little place to hide at home, just to give themselves some quiet time away from the frantic new normal. Often it doesn't last long, so savour those moments.
- Don’t lie in until 11am every day.
- Don’t overdose on the news.
- Don’t stress too much about your children using screens, contrary to number four above. This is what they do. Instead think of ways to lure them away from those screens. If your first efforts don’t work, try, try, try again.
- Don’t spend too much time on your phone (especially if you are worried about your children’s screen time.)
- Don’t forget to laugh.
- Don't forget to actually spend real time with the children who are older than 11… i.e. they are old enough to entertain themselves but this is a good time to be together.
- Please don't forget to count your blessings. There are doctors, nurses and patients across the country who are facing the reality of Covid-19 every single day. We have a lot to be thankful for.
So that’s my list. Take it or leave it. Remember, this too shall pass…
... and in words often attributed to John Lennon,
“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
Until next time,