Mind Your Mindset – Working & Playing at Home
By Heidi North
1. Build a schedule, and check it at least twice a day
Successful business owners develop a schedule for the week. While you are at home, either alone or with kids, get in this great habit. Build a schedule every Sunday. Get up and get started in the mornings, and at lunch, have a meeting with other members of your household to communicate changes or needs for the rest of the day. Take turns with cooking and chores.
2. Set expectations for this unusual situation
Normal “rules” may not apply right now, and that’s ok! In our house we have early risers and night owls. Is this the time to enforce a strict daily schedule that’s the same for everyone? We’ve decided it isn’t. You set the new ground rules, so choose what works best for your situation, just implement it quickly.
For adult-only households, the sky is the limit! Work as many hours as you like! Take classes for personal growth, or tackle long-awaited house projects. Write 5 pages a day in the novel you always intended to write. Get it all on a schedule.
Families with kids under age 10: This time at home may feel less productive than you are used to, and that is ok. The trick to early childhood education is to understand their attention spans and stamina as they are age appropriate. A schedule could include 30 min of work, then 30 min of TV while you work. You likely will not be able to work 3 hours in a row without a verbal tug-of-war, so build a schedule knowing this is the case. Regarding school work – find a balance. It should not feel like a regular school day with you standing at the front of a makeshift classroom. No one expects you to have a teaching degree, and years of progress in school are not going to be lost in the next few weeks. Enjoy this time together in other ways! If there’s more screen time than you’d usually allow, you can decide that it’s ok for now. The TV police are not coming to your house.
Families of teens, tweens and college kids: While teenagers may be more self-reliant for school work, they may have more emotional needs than usual. Some may want to see facts from reputable sources on what’s going on, and some may act out in different ways. Some are worrying about how their education is being impacted, and how they can take tests to earn credits. Lean in, sometimes in ways you may not have before. Take this time to get to know your kid again! And, encourage them to get on the phone with friends, not just via text messages. Schedule activities via video when you can – our teen is doing virtual drum lessons with his long-time instructor.
3. Practice Flexibility
The key to keeping a schedule right now is to remain flexible. Our family is checking in together twice a day and setting up different spots in the house to work, based on what time each family member needs to be on a video call. Give each other space, listen to others’ needs and pitch in as a team. Our scheduling includes looking at the weather report, because we are including time outside twice a day. We adjust our daily tasks as needed to coincide with the weather if needed, so we can get outside when it’s sunny, or fly a kite if it’s windy. Staying flexible is the easiest way we’ve found to make lemonade out of lemons and still accomplish things by the end of the day that we set out to do.
4. Schedule time for fun AND fear
It’s nearly as important to schedule time for your fears and concerns as it is to schedule in some fun right now. Why? You may find yourself worrying every hour, or every 10 minutes. This takes a toll on your immune system, your family and your happiness. Limit news coverage or social media if you find yourself feeling anxious. Choose the content you are absorbing, now more than ever. Visit reputable sources such as the Center for Disease Control or the World Health Organization once a day or once a week for factual updates, and leave the rest of the useless debates to others if it doesn’t feed your happiness. Put worry and fear into your schedule – assign it to a specific chair in your house, take a notepad and set a timer for 15 minutes. If it’s not the assigned time to worry, tell your brain you’ll attend to that topic at 4:00. Then spend time writing down your concerns and figure out solutions. Following the stay at home order means you are safe, right here, right now. See if your worry is coming from “What if” scenarios, and remember that you get to choose how much time you allow yourself to spend in that frame of mind.
5. Schedule social time at least every other day
Happy hour is vital, and it doesn’t have to include alcohol. Make smoothies for everyone, squeeze fresh juice, serve it in fancy glasses and set the time aside for a change of pace. Schedule a FaceTime or Zoom call with friends or family. Write a letter to loved ones and mail it. Within your family, what sounds fun? We made popcorn and watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. We have an upcoming “Pirates Week” where we plan to watch every Pirates of the Caribbean movie. We’ve played card games using Skittles instead of coins or poker chips and the winner eats all! (Well, winner eats most, because some were eaten during the game!)
Remember, this situation is temporary!
The lessons you learn during this time are forever, and you get control over your thoughts, your words and your feelings. Sending love to all of you during this time!