How to navigate thru life during the quarantine
It is a fact that all of our lives have been upended by the international emergency that is a pandemic. Whether you have found yourself homeschooling, lost your job, or even if your biggest problem is finding toilet paper in the stores, our lives have all been impacted, one way or another. So having to navigate thru life during the quarantine can seem daunting.
Whatever your current live/work/health situation is, the truth is that we have all had to make lots of adjustments. Life as we knew it, is no more. And I don’t mean that in a doomsday way at all. What I mean is that, well, there is no way of truly knowing how this will play out into our immediate or distant future, even if you have heard otherwise.
With health professionals, and scientists doing their very best to find the light at the end of the tunnel, and also provide us with real, scientific facts, numbers and data, we can only be sure of one thing: the future really is uncertain.
However, we can do our very best to adapt to the changes in our routines. And we should. I have seen post upon post of well-intentioned people trying to tell us that the best course of action is to keep doing what we have been doing forever. Unfortunately, this could be nearly impossible to do, especially if, like me, you have suddenly found yourself with a houseful of people (your family) every. single. day.
Don’t get me wrong. I adore my family, and since we are used to hanging out together all the time, this hasn’t been too painful for any of us. However, it has been a 360 flip for all of us. Even the cats seem a bit confused at times, seeing that all their humans are here all the time.
So, what I want to share with you is a handful of tips that have been very effective for my family. Not a by-the-hour schedule of things to do, but more of a few tips that you can apply to your own set of circumstances, adjust to your own schedule, and adapt to your needs. These tips are very simple, easy to implement, and will make a difference in how you view your new-found reality.
How to navigate thru life during the quarantine
With all of your immediate family members stuck inside the house, I feel like keeping your home as clean and organized as possible is a must. Take it from someone who grew up in a messy house (I was always busy with school and ballet, and so was my Mom, who came with me everywhere when she wasn’t at work), I can honestly tell you that one of the biggest sources of stress and anger for me was coming home to our messy, albeit full of love, home. Can you imagine being there at all times?
Make a conscious effort to do some light cleaning every day, and have all family members do their part as well. You will meet some resistance, but in the end, it is not only your home, it’s their as well. It might help if you sit everyone down and explain how each and everyone of them is an important part of the family, and that as such they all have to contribute so that your time together is not spent yelling at kids to pick up their toys, or worse, picking them up yourself.
If it helps, make a chore chart where you can detail what has to be done daily, weekly, etc, and assign the chores to each person, or, if you want, keep them open, and whomever completes a chore, can get a bonus in the form of money or even a nice treat, like an extra cookie or a cupcake.
The need for an alarm is probably my least favorite thing about being an adult, only second to paying bills. Truth is, most people (adults & children) have a very hard time getting up early in the morning, unless they set up an alarm. Otherwise, they’d be constantly late for all the things, like school, work, appointments, etc.
During this unprecedented times, it is still important to keep an alarm as part of our routine. However, I recommend you adjust (if possible) when it will go off. Unless you are required to be present at a specific time, there is really no need to be up and running at 5 am every day, is there?
Give yourself a much-needed break, and change the time your alarm goes off. Honestly, if this is not the time to catch up on some shut-eye then I don’t know when that time would be.
Unless you have been working from home for a while, making the adjustment to this can seem a little bit daunting. Make sure you keep a schedule that works for you, and that your work area is as dedicated to work as possible. For some, there might not be another option but to work from your dinning room, and that’s OK.
However, you should try to avoid taking your “work” to your bedroom or common areas with you as much as possible. One, because your bedroom should be the place where your rest and relax. Second, because if you have a family, the living/common areas are probably where they will be, and it can be distracting and less productive to try to do anything work-related.
If you have never meal planned, now is the moment to do it. Seriously. With everybody home, chances are you will be running out of food sooner rather than later. This in turn will mean you will spend more money AND will have to leave your home more often, which we all know goes against the current recommendation to stay home.
Also, if you find that your kitchen seems more of an all-you-can-eat buffet, then it might be time to set up some much-needed ground rules. At least for the time being (this is an ongoing rule in my house, but that’s just a preference), set up snack-specific rules so that you don’t see all the goodies fly out the window. I recommend you only give your kids free-rein on healthy snacks like fruit and/or veggies, and that all else (cookies, cupcakes, etc) be rigidly managed by you.
As parents, we know that kids (and sometimes adults) have a harder time controlling how much we eat of the non-healthy stuff, and if given complete access to that, they will probably eat the whole pack of cookies on one sitting. Not only is this very unhealthy, but it will also mean that you will run out of it faster, and that some family members might not even get a chance to have any of it.
Nothing can be more stressful than being connected to the news all the time, and even more so right now. This is the time to block all notifications from news outlets, and only put on the local news once a day at the most on your TV. I know how important it is to stay connected to the world. I get it, truly. However, having a constant stream of information enter your brain could be a big source of anxiety, stress, and unnecessary worry.
Stay connected, but only enough to know what’s going on, without letting it take over your every waking minute of every day. Trust me, these are stressful enough times already.
Whether you and your family are readers or not, now is the perfect time to set up some reading time for everyone. Not only is reading one of the best activities to do when you are stuck at home, but reading also gives you a chance to learn, and opens up the world in ways very few activities do.
Encourage everybody in your home to pick what they’d like to read. Even if it’s a comic book, any kind of reading is good. It will keep you all entertained and it could also be the source of some awesome conversations. And if you have little one, there are huge benefits to reading to your child every day, so I call this a win win. LINK
Unless you have chosen to homeschool as your preferred method of educating your children, this “new normal” will be nothing short of crazy. I don’t know what your city’s or school district’s expectations are, but please, please, give yourself and your children some grace. This isn’t the time to add a feeling or fear of failure to your cocktail of emotions.
No one, I repeat, no one should feel forced to add full time schooling to an already stressful situation. And if your kids’ school is putting pressure on you to continue as “normal”, then I suggest you reach out and not let this happen. We are all under unprecedented levels of stress, and none of our lives are “business as usual”. You should be able to have some breathing room, and do the best you can, not try to replicate the whole traditional school experience.
I know all (or most) of us use our phones for many things, from calling to texting, social media, alarm clock and even as a timer for when we bake, etc. However, I recommend you get your hands on a simple digital timer to use for certain activities like watching TV, reading, and even for fun screen time for you and your children.
I only have one timer, because I only use it for Ms Emma but if you have more than one young child at home, try having one for each kid. Set it up to go off in 30 minutes whenever your child is doing an activity that needs some extra monitoring, like screen time. This way, the days will not be completely wasted with mindless TV watching, and they’ll have time to do other, more productive things, like reading, playing with their toys, and maybe even getting a bit more active.
There’s never been a time when having a budget and sticking to it is more important than right now. Even if your job is not at risk, you have to factor in possible illnesses, product shortage and any other additional expense that you wouldn’t have to worry about during normal times.
So, if you haven’t created a budget yet, do so now. Don’t worry about how that budget will or will not work in a month or 2. The important part is that you manage your money in a better way, and that you can keep track of where it’s going. I am sure your expenses have changed in some way, whether it’s having a higher food bill or paying less for gas, if you are working form home.
Create the budget you need RIGHT NOW, readjust later as things change one way or another. Revisiting your budget is something you should do anyway, to keep updated, since pretty much everything in life is ever-changing. And of course, STICK to your budget. Avoid impulse buys of anything that is not necessary. No matter how much money you make, if you waste it, you’ll be as broke as the next person.
Occupy your time with other things, like cleaning your closets, or reading, or even making crafts with your family using what you already have at home, instead of going on an online shopping spree. This isn’t the time to overspend. This is the time to stockpile money, to save as much as possible, and cut all the unnecessary expenses.
Watching TV is not my favorite form of entertainment, but I do enjoy binge-watching a few shows when time permits. During this quarantine period however, watching TV will probably be one of the most-used forms of distraction. And who can blame us? With so many options for streaming out there, it’s a wonder we get anything else done, ever.
However, spending all your free time (and even the time you should spend on other things) watching TV is not the way you want to go about this. Instead, set up a nice schedule for TV and try to stick to it as much as possible. If it helps, keep your TV off at any other time of day. I have found that when our TV runs all day long (usually when husband is home), we get a lot less done. Thus, if you want to feel more productive during the quarantine, keep your TV off, except for whatever times you have designated as “TV time”.
TV might be the most popular form of entertainment for times when you are stuck at home, but is definitely not the only one. Find ways to keep your family and yourself busy by doing stuff together. Puzzles, board games, and even some good, old fashion deep cleaning (not much fun , I know) come to mind.
Not sure how my kids even started with this, but for a while now they have been playing this little game, and even my husband and I jump in to play sometimes. In the game, the person who is chosen to go first thinks of something. Then the other players get to start asking questions to try to guess what that is. The kicker is, the questions can only require yes/no answers. So, if you want to know what they are thinking about, you can’t ask is it’s a real person or a fictional character, but rather ask “Is it a real person?” and if the answer is NO, then ask: Is it a fictional character?”. If the answer is YES, then ask “Is the character from a movie?”, etc, etc.
What makes it fun is that it the possibilities are endless. You can choose to think of a place, instead of a person. Or even the title of a book. No matter what it is, the person thinking it can only answer with yes/no, so the game can go on for hours. We even do themed versions of it, sticking to people, or movies, or whatever we fancy. We often play this while in restaurants waiting for our food, or during long car rides. It’s quite fun!
You might be thinking: “Why was health left for the very end of the post?” Well, I gotta tell you, it was completely intentional.
See, staying healthy is the reason for this quarantine. Not only our own health, but others as well. That is the one thing you must do. And it is precisely with your health in mind that I decided to write this post.
Because it’s not only our physical health that’s at stake. Our mental, and emotional health can and has already been affected by the current situation.
In addition to staying home to help stop the quick spread of the virus, make sure you excercise. Everyone’s situation is different, of course. But if you don’t have your own backyard where you can do a bit of moving around without running into others, at least do some stretches. There are tons of free videos on YouTube and other platforms. If at all possible, do some of your work standing up. A stand up desk is ideal. In lieu of one, try moving your laptop to your kitchen counter for bit every day.
Lastly, but no less important, please, please, please, do not spend mindless hours scrolling thru social media. True, there’s a lot of good information that is shared. But also true, there’s also a ton of conspiracy theories, homemade covic-19 “cures” that are garbage. And don’t get me started with the news of the rising death tolls, bad government policy, and unrealistic “cure/vaccine” date predictions that are not based on facts, and greatly appeal to the gullible.
And whatever you do, please stay at home unless you absolutely have to go somewhere.
Wrapping it all up
If you thought this was a very long post, it’s because it is. I imagine you just scrolled down to the end, but I’m going to tell you to go back to the beginning and read it all. Seriously, I know this is a meaty post, and I get why you might want to skip some of it. But at least, try to identify the areas of your life where you’re struggling the most right now, and read that section.
In this post I have covered:
- Home upkeep
- News intake
- Reading time
- School work
- Timer/time management
- TV time
These are the most basic aspects of life that should not be overlooked. Even more so while dealing with a pandemic that has put us all in quarantine. The thing is, while the future looks more uncertain than ever, we can all do our part to come out of this stronger and not lose our sanity. And I believe that if we all take a moment to make small changes in how we do things, we can adapt to our circumstances. And that will make our time quarantined one of growth, and learning. A chance to make the most of our days.
How to navigate thru life during the quarantine
Now tell me, how are you coping with your new reality? Has your routine been affected by the quarantine? If so, which aspects of your life have seen the biggest impact? Please, share with us in the comment section below. Inquiring minds want to know how they can help 😉
Stay home, stay healthy, and stay sane. And above all else, be kind to yourself, and others.