I dont know about you but the last few weeks have been a roller coaster ride for me! The world has changed and will most likely never return back to the normal that we knew prior to December 2019. With all of these new changes underway, it is important that we learn to adapt to those changes, flow with the tide so that we are not swept under by the current. The way we have now been forced to live, move around and communicate has tested even the very fabric and theory of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
In my own personal experience of being in lockdown since March 16th 2020, I have had to process how this new norm has impacted me emotionally and physically. When the national address by our local authority (Bahamas) was issued on Sunday March 15th announcing that all schools would be closed until further notice, I immediately began taking the necessary steps for the way forward. I knew that given the present circumstances, it was only a matter of time before the domino effect would begin. If the children were now out of school then the parents of those children would obviously be working from home next.
Work laptops had been distributed and a Business Continuity Plan set in place at least two weeks prior to the national announcement. None of us were truly mentally prepared for what is now the second month of a 24hour curfew with complete lockdown on weekends.
Back in the day, this would have been my ideal arrangement! Being able to home school my son while working from home would have been a dream come true for me. They say be careful what you pray for, you just might get it. Well, its now 6 weeks in and I am just now settling into this new temporary set up of being a working professional wife and mother operating from home.
The first two weeks were a major challenge to say the least. And there were a few days of total melt down and temper tantrums…not from my son, but me!
You see, I work in a very fast paced, high intensity environment where my primary function is not only time sensitive but carries a very high degree of risk. Where I would normally be sitting in the front of two large computer monitors which assists me in my daily routine of working between multiple applications; I was now confined to a small laptop doing the exact same work, volume and all. My husband, who is classified as an essential worker, has continued as normal, going out each morning and working a full day. So imagine the chaos in the first few days! Now I had to manage an over active demanding three year old boy at home alone while trying to meet the demands of this new virtual office set up. Oh did I mention that I was only 2 months into this new position before COVID 19 lockdown started?! Not to mention that my every move was being closely monitored. Lets just say anxieties were high and so was the pressure to deliver on everything I had sold myself to be…
Between the noisy toddler who refused stay in his section of the house and me trying to adjust to my new work environment outside of the new position, my stress level had hit an entirely new high!
In the first week I attempted to keep the usual morning routine. I woke my son up as I would normally do for school, getting him and myself dressed (bath and lounge clothes). I would prepare breakfast, set it up in the t.v. room and put on his favorite educational program and then anxiously proceed to my work station which I had set up on my family’s dining room table.
After the first week I realized that I was working longer hours in my attempt to meet unrealistic deadlines given the circumstances, closing down my laptop sometimes way past the 5pm cut off.
By the end of week two I was feeling extremely drained and depleted mentally and physically. I was not enjoying this work from home experience at all and at some points I felt very far removed from enjoying the opportunities that had really been afforded to me. I needed to recalibrate my mind. I could not do anything about what was happening but I needed to change how I viewed the entire situation and focus on what I could change. The serenity prayer needed to be invoked.
I needed to stay calm. I needed to reevaluate my responses and reactions in all situations before I allowed my thoughts to be released from my mind. It took a few weeks but I am finally getting into the groove of truly being at peace with everything.
I am finally seeing the privileges that the present circumstances have afforded us rather than the pains. I enjoy the privilege of sleeping an hour later and being able to walk the short distance from the bedroom to my work station at the dining room table in my PJs. There is no morning commute traffic and no pressure to look my best during the daily virtual team meetings.
I enjoy opening up the front door and sliding door located right off the dining room to let in the morning breeze, inviting the sunbeams to shine through as I make my morning coffee at my leisure. I now allow my son to sleep longer. He wakes up at whatever time nature allows, and this affords me a smoother morning flow; a time to mentally and spiritually prepare for the long day ahead.
When MJ (my son) wakes up I do not restrict his play time or the time that he takes to complete his school assignments. I don’t pressure him or get upset when I see him losing focus. He’s three and if he retains anything right now, it will most likely be the memory of how he felt during his time spent at home with mommy. My only request from him is that he allows me to work undisturbed in my work area while he plays in his. “Only interrupt mommy if you need to eat, use the bathroom or change the channel.” He is catching on and this new arrangement has proven successful over the last 3 weeks…Thank God! 🙂
I don’t know for sure how long this new lifestyle is expected to last, but I have determined to make the best of it. I plan to take in every moment and see it as an opportunity to grow, reflect and retreat. Once its gone and we return back to the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I dont want to have any regrets about how I spent this time.
Here are a few tips that I applied to my current lifestyle change that I feel would be helpful to my readers:
- Take Mental Breaks: You cannot pour from an empty cup. It is imperative that you find the time to focus on your self care. Your physical body needs rest in order to operate at its optimum level. You need to know when you have reached your limit-take a break from the work. This was one thing that I was failing to do during my daily routine and that is why by the end of the work day I was feeling so drained. You might not be able to take a full lunch hour break, but find at least 15-20 minutes within the work day to move away from your workstation and do what relaxes you. For me its simply moving into the t.v. room, kicking back in the recliner while I enjoy my lunch then closing my eyes for a few minutes before returning to work. Sounds simple but I found that it has made a world of difference to simply get away from the virtual office for an hour or so. At the end of the work week I literally break my workstation down and put it away in a room where I don’t have to see it. Literally, out of sight, out of mind! And I enjoy my weekend in the company of my family, doing the things that we love together.
- Be Creative: Being restricted to your home does not restrict your ability to create. What would you normally do for recreation, fulfillment or selfcare? Perhaps its a service that you pay for others to provide to you. Maybe its a place that you retreat to at the end of a busy week. Why not try recreating those same experiences from the comfort of your home! I am a girly girl, so I love being pampered. Getting massages, hair and nails done professionally at least once per month is that selfcare gift to myself. So in my attempt to feel some level of normalcy during the lockdown, all things considered, I purchased a nail gel manicure system on Amazon, which cost me under a $100.00. I unashamedly admit that I had the most exciting and exhilarating feeling when it arrived, two weeks ago! Just to see the colors and quality of the product was enough for me to connect with my past spa experiences (my happy place). I was eager to test my own skills out and even though the first time around I didn’t quite meet the standards of my regular nail tech, it still gave me a sense of accomplishment and recreation. I have friends that like to dine out on the weekends-trying new restaurants and their favorite dishes takes them to their happy place. So since they couldn’t get to their favorite spots they instead spend their evenings and weekends recreating different recipes at home. If the things you like to do requires hand skills then your creative juices should thrive in this current environment. I found that Pinterest is a very useful tool to help harness your creativity. The only limitation is your state of mind.
- Find Inspiration: It is important to tune into the positive especially during this time of bad news constantly bombarding the media; which can play a toll on your mental and emotional wellbeing and balance. Sometimes you have to intentionally disconnect from social media and find inspiration for your soul. It might be a book, an album, a song, a YouTube channel but it is vitally important to recharge mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Some days, the stress level is higher than others. On those days, I am intentional about replenishing my spiritual energy. I draw a hot bath, pour in my bath salts and bubbles, set up my personal laptop (away from the water!), find a topic that is fitting to my spiritual needs at the time and I tune in. Feel free to add in your favorite cup/glass of beverage, maybe some scented candles for that added effect. Whatever your preference, it is important to note here that your spirit is more vulnerable than you think and you must choose a reputable source to draw from. Just as you would not eat physical food from anywhere for fear of falling sick physically, so is the same for your spirituality. Be careful what you allow into your hearing. Shut down anything that makes you feel depressed, condemned or sad. Choose wisely, listen, meditate, relax- create your own sanctuary of peace and serenity amidst the chaos.
- Stay Connected: In a world of new technology, physical distancing doesn’t mean that you have to disconnect from family and friends. Now more than ever, it is important to remain technologically connected with the people that you love and are unable to physically connect with. Use platforms such as WhatsApp, Skype and Zoom to check in with your family and friends regularly, specifically those living alone. I would imagine that this lockdown might be weighing more heavily on those persons emotionally. When you speak to your family and friends, make sure to keep the communication light hearted though. No COVID 19 topics of gloom and doom, you hear enough of that already…Find out how your loved ones are doing when you connect? Truly listen to them, not with the intent to respond but to understand how they are really doing. Let them know how important they are to you. Talk about regular life happenings, events and future plans. Keep hope and faith at the forefront of your conversations, always.
- Plan Ahead: I think it is safe to conclude that out of the human needs according to Maslow, the need for safety/security seems to be heading the chart right now. With the level of uncertainty around us and the ever changing tides globally, no one is exempt from the possibilities of the trickling effects at the end of COVID 19. The only saving grace that we have is to be as prudent as possible when it comes to our plans where it involves spending. Now that I am working from home, I have found that I have been able to save more because I don’t have to worry about filling up my car tank with gas for the commute to work. At least 3-4 days out of the work week when I was in office I would carry my packed lunch from home, treating myself to Starbucks or a nice lunch some Thursdays and Fridays, whereas now I make all of my breakfast and lunch meals at home. The same is true where our son is concerned. We would have normally been paying school fees on a weekly basis which included breakfast and lunch. We were able to save a few hundred dollars for the month of April since our son has been homeschooling, purchasing most of his favorite foods wholesale/ bulk which has saved us a good chunk of change as well. In fact, I have found that our largest bill at the end of the month is not the mortgage or utility bills, its food. So what we have now committed to doing is purchasing none perishable food items and household necessities such as toiletries and cleaning products wholesale as appose to retail purchasing. This small lifestyle change has already saved us at least $1,000.00 in just a few short weeks. Also, my husband and I have already concluded that our travel plans for 2020 are cancelled. Although I had such high anticipation for our summer family vacation abroad, I chose to see the brighter side of things with the monkey wrench being thrown in our plans. The money that we were allocating towards travel expenses and recreation we can now add back to our savings. All monies will be applied to contingency planning and other much needed family goals to be accomplished should everything go well once the dust has settled. And, instead of airline tickets, hotel accommodations and rental car expenses we can do a staycation, planning entertainment activities around local sites which we anticipate to begin opening back up by summer at the very least. That’s a whole lot of savings if you ask me…and who would complain about that?
I know this post was long but as usual I had to take you through my journey so that you can see how my methods have been tried, tested and proven before providing any kind of advice or suggestions to my readers.
I do hope that this post has been not only an inspiration to you but also a guide to a healthier, happier lifestyle change…
Be safe, stay healthy and continue to do your part to help heal the world.
Blessings and Love.