I am writing this from my bubble – a bubble which is more middle class than I would like to admit, working from home, ticking along, just got a secondhand hot tub, kind of bubble (yep but please bear in mind that the hot tub only cost £200 and is powered by solar water and electric, as best we can). At this point in time, as a family, we can manage financially, emotionally is a different matter.
Long terms goals and future plans are uncertain and that has a strange effect on motivation, drive and the meaning of many activities. We are trying to focus on the small things, the things we can change/do and let go of the big stuff like “Can I still go to uni?”, “I don’t want Nanny to die”, “What will happen to the economy?” “Is it worth me carrying on with this plan/that plan”. We can’t change those things, only trust that somehow it works out and if it doesn’t, that we will all adapt/heal/adjust. Staying positive and reframing worries and unhelpful perceptions to more positive and adaptive ones is essential.
I am at home “working”, not having to go out to work in a hospital or community and it’s difficult to know just how many people are in this weird place of being at home…all the time. My days consist of trying to sleep beyond 5am (If I get up that early, I don’t make it through the day!), watching my other half roll out of bed, turn on his work computers which are in our bedroom, and start work around 7.15am, usually naked (him not me). Sometimes I manage to get out of bed earlier than him and start my own work as early morning is the only time I am guaranteed not to be disturbed. You get used to working in snippets of time when you work from home and have kids, a needy golden retriever, older parents etc. However boundaried I have tried to be over the years, I have failed many times to make home working, work well for me. This current situation just took it to new levels!
My daily occupations are also being shaped by my back is playing up (I have successfully “fattened the curve” and put on about stone of late, so I can’t actually stay in bed for more than 6 hours anyway and if I come downstairs and sit at the desk straight away, it aches even more, so I am doing this sort of walking/standing/yoga mix of trying to work at my laptop – its not easy. If I do get into a state of flow with my work, by 9am the house is sort of awake and the flow evaporates. The rest of the day is a ridiculous amount of cooking and cleaning, helping others to structure their day at home, supporting the emotional difficulties that surface and trying to remember what on earth I was meant to be doing! Anyone else feel like a 1950’s stay at home mum?
The days are passing so quickly and I find that upsetting! It feels like time I can’t regain, but of course that is silly. The paradox of time is making itself known… you know, the one where you have supposedly have more spare time, but seem to have less time to do stuff…ahhhh. Oh and I’m not going to the studio to paint unless I get at least half a day uninterrupted, focused time because I am tired of finding my brushes and oil paint dried out three days later.
From an occupational perspective, I am fascinated how certain activities help us mark times and shift state, for example:
- Meal times have become real markers of time and have gained greater meaning in our house “yey, structure!”, “yey activity”, “yey yummy food” “fatten that curve baby”
- 9.30pm each evening is now hot tub time. Trying to unwind, shift state and have different conversations with my family members like “what did you learn today at non-school Janey?” “husband, how are you coping without the pub?” and things like that
- Dog walk times: shifting to exercise state (!) and emotional support for my eldest who is struggling with the loss of structure and disrupted life plans
- Face time with my mum: an opportunity for patience and tolerance hahaha
Other ways the week is structured:
– Monday nights, it’s Grayson time
– Tuesday evening its takeaway night, but that is pretty limited around here and I cannot face pizza again!
– Wednesday is hair wash and blow dry day (yep I managed to get it to last all week!)
– Thursday or Friday I do try and talk to a friend, but I have been even more anti-social than usual of late
– WEEKEND whoop whoop…which are the same as the rest of the week, except there is not a naked man standing next to my bed, working on his laptop and I try not to do “work”.
In the absence of external structure, these markers feel very important. In the absence of future certainty, small things, small goals, small activities gain greater value. Much of me is really liking this weird time and making me evaluate how and why as a human being I seem to always need large goals and projects to feel good about myself and create meaning in my life. It is also making me realise how I allow future uncertainty, to scupper my plans and motivation.
I hate the phrases “when this is all over” and “the new normal”, for many reasons. One, because I don’t think we have a clue what is going on or if there is an “end” point, two because I don’t think the old normal was working and three, because normal never did really exist. So here are some questions I have been cogitating of late and yes they are a bit disruptive/inflammatory and some of them are probably more philosophical/ethical, rather than “coaching” questions!
What was “normal” anyway? Was my”normal” the same as everyone else’s normal? in our family, in our street, in our country, across the world? What was good about our old normal and what might have been bad, for us or others? How long does normal usually last?
What are the good things coming from all this?
What mustn’t we be blinded to right now?
How are your fears affecting/changing your future plans?
How could you honour your fears and emotions right now and still find joy?
What if you didn’t wait for a return to normal and lived as if you were already there?
How could you adapt your future goals so they are meaningful and compelling, regardless?
Be well, think it through, enjoy small things
Love to you all