Updated: Feb 25
If you have no warning of a change, then you may find yourself quite resistant to it, though not necessarily consciously.
Humans are creatures of habit, and like feeling comfortable with how things are, and should be. I noted this in my first book 'Parenting get personal' when I was reflecting on the challenge of parenting children aged 1 to 4. How toddlers can react to changes in their routine and how we as parents can fight against changing our own routines, in light of the new human being in our lives. The Covid19 situation made me reflect on this again.
With governments all over the world instigating isolation protocols we are struggling. If you have watched too many B movies, read too many disaster stories, then events which have taken place have a real surreal edge to them. Having people identified as zombies would probably have met less challenge than being asked to stay at home. At least with zombies you have something tangible to attack, to mount action against and rise up and win. Even if the isolation works, which I seriously hope it does, especially for those who are more vulnerable, will we feel like we have won, or just managed to hide real well?
For me I think the biggest challenge is the change it means to our routines. Holidays are often a stressful time for parents, even when we have time to plan for them, not necessarily because they have the kids to look after, but because everyone's routines get messed up for a relatively short period. Most of us like order, we like knowing what is going to happen next, this has been taken away with minimal warning. So what can we do?
We need to make some new routines, kids and adults like having structure and order in their day, though they may not like to admit it. Sit round the table and set up a schedule, gain some buy in and work together to try and stick to it.
Create some planning charts, let your kids choose their next activity from a selection. Put in place some rewards for them to keep them focused.
Set aside time to get outside, link with others, read a book, go online, talk and ask questions, do something for the family.
In your time find out what others are doing, play inter-house Pictionary, put up interesting things on your windowsill for passing children to ask their parents about. Invent an indoor sports such as Throwlf (soft toys are thrown from an agreed starting point to a 'hole' such as the bath tub. Set up 9 or a full 18 course around the house and try and achieve the best round.)
Don't spend too long on social media. There is so much shared now on social media that we can get pulled in and lost in the hype. People will not be having as much fun as their pictures may portray. Their children may be smiling while they hold that lollipop, but what do you think happened when it was finished...?
Try and have a working week and a weekend, keep as much 'normality' as you can to help separate work time from home time.
Be realistic about your everyday work. Break your day into shorter sections, be honest with your capacity for sustained concentration, especially if there are others in the house. Don't let yourself get annoyed with the distractions, plan for them and accept them as part of the day.
Build in those water cooler conversations, some of that interesting office gossip time and general reflection opportunities, which usually arise while you are waiting for the phone to be answered or the photo copier to finish. Keep connected with your colleagues.
What we are doing is worthwhile and important, most people will be struggling with it, even those who sound like they have a plan and are breezing on through. Plans help but how often do things go to plan, even in normal situations?
Doing nothing is of course, always an option! Don't push yourselves too hard, be kind to yourself and others in your family. This is not a normal situation, these are not usual times, don't try and pretend that all is OK and normal, it isn't, we need to rewrite things for a little while.
Things may not seem real just yet but it won't take long before the boredom monsters to sets in, and then your teenagers (who are not far away from being inhuman at the best of times) may fully morph into those zombies your were originally worried about.