As I write this piece, we are in Week 5 of the lockdown in the U.K. with absolutely no clue as to when things will ease. Will life get back to normal in another 3 weeks or will it be 3 months? And what really is normal anymore? We all have too many questions and no answers to any. One of the things that have kept me grounded during this lockdown is the ability to continue my coaching work. And as I reflected yesterday after a session I was so struck by just how priorities have shifted across all my clients - a complete re-alignment of goals. Just in the past 4 weeks, goals have moved to include health, emotions, relationships and the most important one – managing physical and emotional space.
So, today I want to focus on this common theme that comes up in my sessions – boundaries. If we are to be home almost 24/7 with all members of our family, how can we set up a viable space when there currently is no start/stop between work/home/school? If home was a space to come back to, then what do we do now when our work day bleeds into the non work part of our day? And here is the truth – we are spending so much time at home in this lockdown and no matter how much we love the space we live in or the people we share it with some days it might just seem like the last place we want to be. So what can we do?
Creating a space and routine for everyone: Yesterday a friend of mine sent me a photo of drawers she had organised during this lockdown and I was honestly blown away. I am so impressed with people who have the dedication to organise and put away things so neatly. But I am no Marie Kwondo, so I am not going to offer any sort of de-cluttering or organisation tips, instead my tip is to try and create a space for everyone at home. If you have a big place then this is less of an issue but if you live in a flat like most Londoners do, then space is limited. So try this. Create a workspace or if you are schooling young ones, create a school space. So at home I work in my living room and have converted a section of this room to the place I come in to work every morning. Similarly my partner has a workspace and so does my 16 year old in another part of our home. We give ourselves physical distance during the workday. My partner and I get into work at 9:00 am at our respective workspaces and my daughter starts her online classes at 8:45am. A tip here is to set simple but effective boundaries. Let me share some of ours – everyone at home keeps to their work/school schedules, each member makes their own lunch (yes I have an older child so its easier for me, but if you have young ones then fix a lunch time and get kids to help), we let each other know if we have important meetings scheduled so we are not disturbed, a no compromise on headsets for all calls and classes and so on. Creating a set of rules and physical boundaries is really vital – it’s a form of respecting each other and showing members of our family that each one and the work that they do is important. Similarly it would be useful to set rituals for after work and to find ways to connect with family – playing board games, cooking dinner together, watching a movie and so on. A client of mine shared a wonderful ritual. She works on her dining table in the daytime and in the evenings puts all her work away and lights a candle – a simple yet powerful and intentional ritual to move from work mode to home mode. Another client shared with me how she gets on Zoom in the evenings to have a coffee or cocktail with her friends and family. And another puts post it notes to remind herself to get off her laptop and get some chill!
Creating new habits: This lockdown is a great opportunity for us to create new habits. In fact the pandemic that sprung upon us was a moment that disrupted our autopilot and the daily mindless routines. So this is the perfect moment for us to set intentions and create new habits – go for your one a day exercise with your whole family, set intentions to cook together and eat well, play games together, read that book you’ve been putting off or learn a new skill. This is also the best time to be mindful and understand that you as a whole family are going through change. Check in on your family members, on yourself and have self-care rituals like meditation or exercise carved into your day. This really is an opportunity to create something amazing out of a dark moment.
Turning our homes into a happy place during this lockdown is really down to all of us. I’ll leave you with three questions I often ask my clients:
· What kind of a family would you like to become in three months?
· How can this pandemic re-shape your life?
· What values are most important to you now and how are you living them?
Stay safe my friends and take care of your mental and physical health.