Below are are some tips to help you get through this pandemic if you find yourself adapting to a new (hopefully temporary) normal, and are trying to adjust to staying home most (or all) of the time.
With all the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries, states, and counties have issued stay at home orders. While essential services such as groceries, mail, and fuel are still available, many businesses have closed their doors in accordance with the stay at home orders. Many businesses have done so voluntarily, or changed the way they do business by offering curb side service, or mailing products. Sadly, we’ve also learned that many businesses have taken advantage of this as an opportunity to lay off workers who are higher paying instead of those wage earners who have not been with a company long enough to earn that higher pay. (This seems rather short sighted to me if they are laying off their best or most experienced talent.)
Whatever the scenario, many people are finding themselves with much extra time with nowhere to go. This brings a new reality of how to deal with spending time at home without going crazy, becoming an alcoholic, or gaining a ton of weight.
Keep to a routine/schedule
I’ve heard over and over that parents are struggling to juggle work while the kids are schooling at home. For those fortunate to keep their jobs and work at home, this can seem like a dream, but it really can be a challenge. Much of what the teachers used to do in a classroom is now expected at home. This is compounded for those workers who are considered “essential” and must continue going to work, but the kids have to stay home. It’s also a challenge for those whose children do not get to continue their schooling through online courses. In times like these, it is crucial to develop a schedule, and keep to it.
Put your schedule in writing so everyone in the house knows what the schedule is. This way there is no confusing who was supposed to do what when, and there are no kids trying to trick your memory. If they’re written down, the rules are easier to follow and enforce.
Make sure to include time for exercise, time for learning (via reading or doing), time for work (while kids are learning), and family time without electronics. If you include a quick exercise in the morning, this is a great way to exhaust the kids a little and get some of their energy out, since they won’t be walking around the school halls. Exercise helps to create focus as well. It doesn’t have to be much, a little warm up of fast walking around the block, then some stretching to calm down.
A schedule will keep you and your family focused of what/where/when. Okay, we all know where, but it could be different rooms. Developing a schedule for the weekends is important as well.
Only reward with fun things when the schedule has been adhered to.
If your health prevents you from full exercise, pick up basic things such as stretching and walking. There are many many videos you can find online to help. (Check out Dr. Jo on YouTube and set aside an hour to do these daily [we have no affiliation].) You are finally in a position where you can’t say you don’t have time to exercise. Under the current circumstances, now you do. There are many ways to exercise from basic stretching to advanced yoga, to running, riding a bike, martial arts, or lifting weights. Even if you don’t have weights, you can perform bodyweight exercises such as push ups, pull ups, planks, sit ups, lunges and squats, and those can work just fine. Or you can do a web search for alternatives you can use instead of weights. There is plenty of such information online.
Exercising daily, even simple exercise like stretching, will help you think more clearly about the current situation. It will provide you with focus to consider what you should be doing, how to spend your time, and plan for this uncertain future.
Unplug from the electronics
That’s right, set specific times to turn off Facebook, turn off the news, and don’t look at your phone. It often feels like you must be connected at all times to hear the headlines, but that’s probably not the best use of time, or the best for your mental well being. I found myself guilty of this when I learned of the first death of someone I knew as a result of the COVID-19 virus. This later turned into three people I knew that died; nurse and lab technician I used to work with both also died due to complications of COVID-19. Since I am now in Texas and my former coworkers are in Nevada, being so far away from them made me want to glue myself to the news to watch and make sure no other health care staff I know dies. It is crazy how far your mind can go to thoughts of “what if I still worked there” to “I should still be working there to do my part” to “I don’t know if I can handle anymore deaths right now.” But the reality is, even though all the people I used to work with hold a place in my heart somewhere or another, I’m three states away and have no control over what happens there. Being glued to the news is not going to help anyone, least of all me. And, the news will still be there when I turn the electronics back on. It will repeat itself over and over as they always do, and the news articles will still be posted. I will miss out on nothing by taking a break from such devices, other than to allow my mind clarity and peace, even if only for a short while.
Turning off electronics for a specified amount of time regularly will allow clearing the mind for focusing on what important tasks are needed now. And those tasks will vary according to each household. My task is to keep my business afloat amid shortages of raw ingredients, but your task may be to figure out how to manage working at home and helping your kids through online school, or even homeschooling. Your task might be to do more training with your dog, or plant a vegetable garden, or take walks around the block for fresh air. Everyone’s scenario is different, but the goal of turning off the electronics and getting away from the influences is just that: to not be influenced by others, and figure out what is most crucial for you each day.
There is a difference in using electronics for things like business, and learning, and using them by spending time on Facebook or Twitter. Using electronics as tools instead of entertainment is an important distinction to make.
Pick up new hobbies
Don’t know how to sew but grandma left you a sewing machine? Find a book on sewing or even watch a tutorial to learn. Or pick up those crochet needles and learn to make some cat toys for your cats.
Always wanted to learn to garden? Now is the perfect time, if you don’t have the space outside, you can garden inside through container gardening. There are so many creative ideas on the web it’s phenomenal.
Learn to cook and bake from scratch. Many restaurants are still offering takeout/curbside service, and you should certainly continue to support your local restaurants. But if you are one who is laid off, that means a loss of income, and there is something to be said to be able to bake your own bread for the fraction of the cost. If you don’t know how to cook, you will be surprised how easy it can be (with a little practice), and how delicious food can be when homemade.
You could learn a new language. I personally love the Duolingo app. You can see my daily Duolingo progress by following me. (Tober16 is my profile.) Go ahead, try to practice more than me!
Learn a new musical instrument, learn to draw or paint. There are so many things that you have access to at your fingertips. Or pick up on old hobby you have forgotten due to time constraints. Seize this opportunity to do things you love, or find new things you love doing.
Read books, then more books, and more books
There is a beautiful art to reading books. Some books are like television in your head, and some are just awful, but finding good books is not difficult at all. Between online reviews, and book reviewer sites (including ours!) you can find a myriad of books you and your family may enjoy. Start a new hobby, instead of television, reward the children with reading a book out loud for a half hour or hour a day. Better yet, incorporate that into their learning. Have a child read a chapter out loud to the family each night. Then discus the chapter as if you might a television show.
There are many options for books, including getting them for free. If you already have a library card, you could check to see if your library participates with the Overdrive app. If so, you can find books (both paper and audio) and check them out for free from your local library without leaving your home. Some counties offer curbside service for checking out books. There are many apps that allow you to read books for free. There is no shortage of books right now. It’s a great activity for yourself or your family, and with the right book, a great temporary escape.
If your kids are complaining about being at home so much, have them read the Diary of Anne Frank and show them how great they have it compared to what her life was like. Just sayin…
Find Small Businesses to Support
Okay, this may seem like I’m cheating, but chances are if you’re reading this, you’re already supporting us. What I really mean by this one, is look at alternative sources to get supplies. For instance, no one can find affordable masks on Amazon, but there are other online retailers. (To be honest, as of yesterday I’ve officially sworn off being a customer of Amazon due to do them incorrectly overcharging me multiple times for some purchases.) Try Etsy, where many people working from home are creating products including masks for very affordable prices. You can find things and have them delivered to your door.
Start a small business at home
If you do know how to sew, or have some other talent that you can sell, sell it on Etsy or other types of sites. (I originally started on Etsy before I graduated to my own online store.) Or you can join seed savers exchange if you have extra seeds to sell. Or??? What’s your talent or skill? Use it. Times are uncertain, our supply chains have been disrupted, and there is no certainty of how they will be put back together. Can you provide something that someone else needs? If you can make toilet paper, you could be rich right now.
Find Social Networks that meet online (or by phone)
This is something I’ve been trying to get any of my three book clubs to do. No go so far, but I’m not giving up! I’ll keep trying; eventually, one of the groups will come around. If you’re one of those people that must socialize with others, online groups are popping up all over the place. You just need a device with a camera and internet access. Just be careful for scammers, there’s many many out there right now.
Or you can use your phone for some good old fashioned conversations with friends or family members. Phones aren’t just for texting and playing games, after all.
I know, easier said than done. But think about it: if you look at the situation from the perspective that you want it to go away, then you’ll never accept it for what it is. If you take the current situation, and think of it as an opportunity for new and better things, you will not only feel better about the current circumstances, but also potentially improve your situation with positive thinking.
Think long term – just in case
Something tells me this situation is not going to let up soon. This is not a time to stare at Facebook or Instagram and wait for things to change. This could be a new type of normal, so think long term. How can you turn the situation to your advantage, or at least make it more like you want it? Discuss “what if” scenarios with your family. What could happen if this is extended? If people you know die? If you lose your job? Free yourself from the influence of the media on your computer/phone, and start planning long term. Just in case.
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