Everything has shifted in the era of COVID-19 and social distancing. Millions of parents can’t go to work. Tens of millions of children can’t go to school. All the places where we gather together socially are closed.
And on top of it all, there are still deadlines to meet at work.
No doubt you have already started to make some of these adjustments in your own household. Here are some ideas to consider while working at home to help you stay a little more sane.
Set aside a place and time designed exclusively for work (and play)
Most people don’t really have a home office. There is often a table or a desktop reserve to hold some work that comes home, but it is not an office.
- Move some furniture to create a clear office “space” with physical boundaries.
- Repurpose the shelving by moving out distractions and creating a professional décor.
- Include a professional background where you control what happens (or doesn’t happen) during online conference calls when the camera is on
Why does this help?
Our brains know that certain places are designed to do certain things. We relax at the beach, we cook in the kitchen, we work … at work. Help yourself create the structure your brain needs to thrive.
This also goes for your children; they need their own work/play places. They also need clear boundaries to understand which places in the house are NOT for play. This may be a good time to ease up on their room cleanliness rules but, uphold expectations around the rest of the house.
Create and follow a daily work (and play) schedule
We follow schedules in our daily lives. A lot of those used to come from interacting with other people in a work setting. The mix of familiarity and change kept the day moving.
Help yourself recognize routines.
- Let everyone in the house know your office hours.
- Post them on your door or entrance to your office space.
- Enlist family members in helping you follow it.
Why does this help?
Working together to create work routines at home mimics the work environment. This allows your brain and body to recognize a pattern, which is an important part of our physiology.
It also signals routine to the rest of your household, helping everyone cope by lessening the stress of change.
Your children desire a structure too – school used to give them a lot of that. They are used to being stimulated by work, classmates, teachers, and lots of physical activity. The more structure you can help them create, the better able they will be to deal with the stress of quarantine.
Network (and socialize) online and on schedule
It is tempting to sequester yourself in your house, away from your most annoying co-workers. It is really tempting to find reasons to miss all those meetings being called by the boss. And your co-workers.
However, it is important to regularly meet online with others.
- Build specific times in your day when you prefer to have those meetings.
- Only break that schedule if you must (there are meetings you can’t change)
- Get on camera
Why does this help?
Regularly meeting with other people keeps our brains active. It requires us to get up, get dressed, and be presentable for the world. This extra activity is not hard, and it helps us feel better about ourselves. It’s easy to lift your mood by following these simple routines.
Helping your children have social time with other children is important for them too. At school, students have hundreds of interactions with others every day, and those are largely gone. Encourage them to Facetime and Zoom with their peers. Help your younger children do parallel play with their friends, even if they’re a miles away.
Seeing a familiar face and having a conversation with friends relaxes us, and releases endorphins. Lowered blood pressure and a sense of calm and normalcy are important these days.
Of course, these days stuck at home are going to be a challenge. This challenge will get harder as time goes on, even with the best plans in place. Taking these steps will help you adjust to our new reality, and come out stronger on the other side.
It can help to have someone to talk to. Contact your counselor or therapist and set up an online meeting before there is a problem. If you don’t have a counselor, you can still talk to someone and talk on a per-meeting basis. Contact Sakina today to arrange a time that works for you.