The virus of negative emotions – do not let it crawl into your household.
If you struggled as a parent to ‘balance it all’ before, you can forget about even trying now. Finding a healthy work-life balance has become ‘mission impossible’ for many families, and it can feel like you’re drowning.
Today was one of those ‘Zombie’ days for me. I felt so disoriented and can’t honestly tell you I recall anything let alone being intentional about it. I thought I was one of the parents who had been managing to ‘balance it all’. That line is now blurry.
I used to pride myself with the “When at work, be at work. When at home be at home” pep talk. Although as an entrepreneur I’ve been used to working out of my home office, I was always present ‘at work’ since the kids were at school. I stopped work right before I had to collect them from school, which also meant I was present for all the evening/bedtime routines and then back to work after their bedtime. Being completely present either at ‘work’ or at home was an art I had been mastering. That line is now blurry.
In addition to joggling our new reality, we are constantly bombarded with news that impacts us negatively. With every news source desperate to volunteer news about Coronavirus, how are we supposed to decipher what’s true and what’s not? That line is now blurry.
The novelty of extended school holidays have now completely worn out, even for the kids. The prospects of things going back to normal is on everyone’s minds. How then are we supposed to look after our mental health? That line is now blurry.
Slowly, the virus of negative emotions is creeping into our households, and with the potential to cause some real damage. It is therefore extremely important, now more than ever, to find ways to adjust to this new reality.
Below are a few tips on how we are coping as a family:
There is always something to be thankful for. I am personally grateful to be together with the boys who are all healthy and well. I am grateful to be able to connect with friends and family far and wide, thanks to technology. I am grateful that the lockdown is happening at a time where the weather is not so grim, which means we can still enjoy the sunshine from home. Practicing gratitude in your current situation will help you stay positive.
Talking about our emotions
Over the years, David and I have put in a lot of work into communicating effectively. Fortunately that hasn’t changed. We communicate all our frustrations and stressors, which ultimately results in adjustments that benefit us as a family. Hence the decision to break down our days into AM/PM shifts that would enable us, as a couple, balance work and family life. You can read more about it in this article here.
Additionally, children (however little) also have their own thoughts and emotions. So take the time to talk to them about it. Ask how they are feeling, how they are holding up. Let them talk if they want to, and listen carefully. Your children might be missing their routines and friends too.
Here’s a link to a post I wrote about ‘effective communication’. And another link to download a short story book that’ll help you explain ‘Coronavirus’ to your little kids.
The virus of negative emotions can thrive on miscommunication .
You may have benefited from ‘external’ motivation at your workplace. However, now is the time to build your ‘internal’ motivation. This might particularly be difficult for those who are not used to working from home, but it’s a crucial skill to learn. It was a struggle for us at the beginning, but now we’ve found a routine that gives us the right amount of motivation we need. My LinkedIn pulse article acquaints you with ‘a guide to working from home’.
As parents with little children, having a routine is very important to us and helps us stay organised. It not only provides clarity to us about our day, it also does the same for the kids. It helps us enforce discipline, Which is one of the ‘7 core values we are teaching our kids‘.
Planning your day with a to do list, and creating routines will help you to get through your day more easily and reduce stress.
Every family is different and so every family creates their own rituals and traditions. If you didn’t already have any, now may be a good time to start them, do them and perhaps stick with them. Ideas could range from having dinner together as a family (very important one for us) to playing board games, or watching a movie together on the same day of the week. We recently incorporated the ‘cleaning ritual’ which the kids are so happy about (hopefully they remain this jolly about house chores even by the time they’re teenagers).
We also created a (once a week) home cinema movie ritual for our kids. It’s a real cinema experience, with special little seats, freshly made popcorn and a side of water. These sorts of rituals will give your children something to look forward to.
Be mindful of fake news
Whilst I understand the need to stay updated with what is going on, it is also important to verify the source of the news. If possible stick to more trusted organisations like the WHO or the CDC, and news sites like CNN, BBC etc. Being bombarded every second with news about the pandemic can result in stress and negative emotions.
Remember that the virus of negative emotions can be as dangerous, so please protect yourself and your family from it
If you’re a parent in need of inspiration, advice, tips or social connections with other parents, do join our Facebook group: ‘Famfluencers Community‘. We have parents from all around the world supporting each other. We put out weekly challenges, and helpful resources. Ultimately it’s a community that will help us connect and uplift each other, especially at a time like this.