I have talked to a few clients since most people have started working remotely, and schools have closed, but it is clear we are all moving into a very surreal new normal that could last weeks or months. For those among us who live alone, “social distancing” means more time spent in isolation without the daily interactions that keep us sane. For others, it means a whole new level of being together with the family at home: mom working in one room, dad in another one, and the kids in their bedrooms online with their schools.
We are all used to going off to our worlds for most of the day, and now those worlds are either merging 24/7 or are being taken away from us (almost) completely.
It seems like we need new rules to keep our sanity and productivity. We need to think differently about how we live in these all-day close quarters without a break to go hang out with our pals.
Managing the Crowded Household
1. Families need to operate as a team more than ever. That’s to say; everyone needs to do their part and be valued for how they can contribute to making this new normal more manageable for all involved. Maybe one person is better at planning and structure, another is better at creating moments of levity, and yet another is a natural peacekeeper. Leaning on each other’s strengths at this time can bring up some great dynamics that you never even considered. Find ways to make it fun, even for the young ones!
2. Have a meeting to establish some guidelines and help everyone buy into their new world order at home. Topics you might want to address:
- What is the agreed-upon schedule for work or studying?
- What are reasonable noise levels that will allow everyone to concentrate?
- Who is responsible for making meals?
- How can you respect each other’s boundaries? Everyone is going to need a bit of “me” time every day since they won’t be able to get much of it elsewhere. It’s also important to still find time and ways to stay connected with friends, even if it’s online.
- For parents with kids who need a bit more supervision, how can you set up turns to alternate parental duties and focused work time? Need ideas or help? There are a lot of artists and people with many talents working with kids. Some are offering remote music and art classes for kids. Ask around and reach out to see how you can help each other!
- PBS did a nice job covering how to talk to your kids about COVID-19. Here is a link
3. Use this situation as an opportunity to have more fun and interaction as a family, instead of shutting down behind screens. Have game nights, cook or learn something new together. Need inspiration? YouTube already has fun examples of people getting creative with their time while staying home.
Managing the Isolation
Remote work can be hard for those who live alone and see their job as a big part of their social life. It can also pose challenges to motivation and productivity.
- Find ways to connect to your colleagues face-to-face. With technologies like Zoom, Skype, and Whatsapp, it is easier than ever to do so. Schedule times for online video “coffee or watercooler” breaks to check in with one another and exchange ideas, just like you’d do in the office.
- Have Google hangout chats with your family and friends. A coach friend reports she is having “Google hang out cocktail hour” every day with her extended family to make time to laugh and connect with each other. What a great idea!
How will we stay productive and calm when this gets old? So many people have commented that it is only the first days and they already can’t imagine how they will handle the “full house” week after week.
Let’s share our stories. Send me (firstname.lastname@example.org) what is working at your house, and I will share them. We are all hopeful that this chapter will not be an extended one, but in the meantime, let’s make it memorable and positive. It is a new normal, and our goal is to avoid driving each other crazy, stay healthy, have some fun, and be able to concentrate on our jobs and schoolwork.
Amid all the chaos, we might just find amazing new opportunities to grow in the way we connect and relate to each other. Good luck!