How was the past week? Did your child(ren) start school? Were/are you working from home? Were you able to get your work done?
I ask because IF you answered “yes” to the questions of your child(ren) starting school AND working from home, I feel confident in answering the first and last questions for you (please pardon my presumptuousness):
The past week has been crazy, hectic, insane, stressful (feel free to drop in your own descriptors). And while you, or both you and your partner, have been running non-stop, you don’t have much of your own work to show for it. If I answered correctly, it is because you are not alone; most parents and families are feeling stressed out by the weight of the pandemic.
I do fear that most parents are holding on to the hope that life will settle into place once the schools figure out distance education. And while I do not want to alarm you, I really do need you to understand that any chaos in the home is, at best, marginally related to any school/admin/teacher chaos. (This is a great time for me to state that I know teachers are working overtime in a new medium and I fully thank them for their commitment. “Thank you!!” My points are not about schools or teachers, but about the needs of the family.)
Keeping our families safe in the time of a pandemic has turned our lives upside down because safety, right now, can only come from social distancing.
Safety requires that almost all activities be completed within the home. This means that our already small homes will begin to feel microscopic as we transition them into one-stop shops for all aspects of our daily lives. We must now allocate space for office work, distance learning, extracurricular activities (my son still has fencing practice twice a week, but it now takes place in our living room), hobbies, activities, pod time, alone time, sleep, etc.
Unfortunately, whatever the schools figure out will not make any part of this new reality any easier. It’s not getting easier without help.
The reason I really need you to understand that the amount of chaos occurring won't change unless it is actively changed, is so you are not afraid to ask for help. Whenever a person struggles with something, they often feel isolated and as if they’re facing that challenge alone. In reality, so many other people struggle with the same issue. Solving problems isn’t about simply finding enough internal strength to muscle through; it’s about asking for help. Especially in times like these, we need all the help we can get.
Remember this from this earlier?
We must now allocate space for office work, distance learning, extracurricular activities (my son still has fencing practice twice a week, but it now takes place in our living room), hobbies, activities, pod time, alone time, sleep, etc. (and, holy crap, I just realized that I left off eating!)
No matter how well your child’s school addresses distance education, your home will still need to support, at minimum, the aforementioned activities. How does a teacher's ability to utilize e-learning tools affect your family’s ability to successfully accomplish all daily activities?
The answer: it doesn’t.
The first step towards ensuring success is to optimize as many spaces in your home as possible to serve more than one function, supporting more than one activity. This will the focus of my next post, discussing how turning spaces into flexible stations that can support multiple activities can help give your whole family the flexibility they need to succeed.
Each week, I’ll be writing about my areas of expertise (as an experimental psychologist specializing in cognition, learning, memory) as they intersect with this new normal, and sharing tips and tricks along the way. Feel free to follow me on LinkedIn, or better yet – sign up for my new email newsletter to get my latest posts before they’re published elsewhere.