Helping families adjust to physical isolation.
If your week is anything like mine, in the last week we have slowly had more and more of us start working and studying from home. I thought we had a pretty big house till this happened! So I thought I would share a couple of things I have noticed to help make this work a bit better. If you have preschoolers, check out my other article!
Everyone needs their own work space.
At one point there were 3 of us trying to be in close proximity of each other. It was hard to hear, hard to concentrate and hard to stay focussed. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, we have a picnic table that will survive as a desk till this passes. The rule around no technology in bedrooms might need to be broken with clear guidelines, just to get through the next little bit.
Everyone needs somewhere where they can have their own space and for people to understand when they are using it.
I am an extrovert, I love people. BUT even I need space away sometimes to do my own thing and be in my own space, watch my favourite show on TV. What does everyone love doing ? How as a household can you make sure that every day everyone gets a little bit of what they need?
Communication is key!
Listen, listen, listen and listen. Good communication is really important. Know for the first day , our communication was very rocky, loud and may have contained tears, while we tried to sort out how to do this. Sometimes it takes time for people to put into words what is going on for them. Speaking your truth in love and listening to the other is really important.
Dig deep for super patience! (timeouts or inventing an invisible coworker to take the blame)
We are not used to living like this. Everyone is scared and unsure of what is going to happen next or how long this is going to last. It is taking every ounce of my energy to not run out to Aldi and clean out the shelves of anything that is left! This is what fear does to us and we usually take it out on people closest to us. Adults and kids alike. When you get a reaction from someone, try really hard not to react back, if this is getting hard, give yourself a time out, go to your room, go for a walk, have a shower,do something physical to get rid of some of that frustration anything to reset your brain!
Share the load.
I think it is when you are at home you really see who is doing what. Sit together as a household and figure out how everyone can do their share. Even adults get tired of being the responsible adult sometimes. Remind people that everyone needs to help.
Make room for joy, every day.
Each of us have something that brings us joy. Music, reading a good book, drawing, dancing, patting your favourite animal, binge watching Netflix, laying on the grass and looking up at the sky. It’s important that you have space to do this alone but also really important to have fun as a household. Have a bad joke telling competition, play lego, do a tiktok dance, play a game, set up an obstacle course, work in the garden. There will be some days easier than others, those are the days that we need to make room most.
Be Kind to each other.
What are the little ways that we can be kind to each other? Remember the 5 love languages? (It’s a book which reminds us that not all people feel and appreciate love in the same way, there is a study guide here to help you with the book if your interested – https://fivelovelanguages-m0.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2016/06/5LLForChildren_StudyGuide_2016.pdf, this website gives a great summary for kids http://livingchicmom.com/show-your-kids-these-5-love-languages/ ) It is the little things, writing a kind note, getting a gift for them, saying an encouraging word, doing someone’s chore for them, giving them time to do what they want. What it is really about is seeing the person for who they are and valuing them.
Let it go! Let it Go.
Work on being a community of grace, one which offers, compassion, forgiveness and hope. Make sure you apologise when you stuff it, try not to hang onto things because your hands are going to fill up pretty quickly!
This too shall pass.
In these difficult times it is really important to remember that this too shall pass. As adults we are going to need to remind each other of this daily, because there isn’t just health implications, but economical ones as well. It may take us a while to recover, but as human beings with a history we know that the world does recover, it may not happen quickly but it will happen. We believe in a God of hope, God who can restore things, renews things and gives people second chances. That God is with us, today, tomorrow and always, working with us for hope.
This house is the Lord’s.
In all of this we need to remember we are never alone, our loving God is ever present in our hour of need. Make time to connect with God however you do it. We are in the season of Lent, the intentional time of giving something up to help us to be closer to God. If you not a person of regular faith habits now would be a good time to start one. I know the closer I walk with God, the better I walk with people. At the end of the day there is only so much you can do, it is a waiting time, both literally and spiritually. How can you wait with God, alone and together.
Karen Mitchell-Lambert is ordained in the ministry of Deacon and is the team leader of PULSE.