At Least, We Can Still Laugh
Updated: Jan 18
My husband and I, from the very start of our relationship, dealt with disruptions to our plans. Within the first three months of dating, we entered the 2008 recession. We very swiftly bonded together to withstand the blow of both being without incomes to support ourselves. From furiously sending out our resumes and strategizing how we would make ends meet, we were prepared to do what it took to overcome this unplanned wrinkle in our path. We kicked into gear our skills of planning for the unknown.
What we learned from that experience together was that we needed to be swift and agile in our planning. So, about two weeks ago, working, schooling, playing, eating, sleeping, and much more, (all well-organized) overnight turned into chaos. Like many of you, my husband and I are working from home while homeschooling our one- and three-year-old boys.
So, here are our lessons for you to steal, add to, share with others, and maybe even have a good chuckle.
1. Reset Perspective
We had to reset a perspective for our situation; by this I mean our attitude toward the amount of control we had over our lives.
We could either view the outside factors as being in control or feel a sense of control for what was happening around us.
We chose to focus on the activities in our lives that we could control.
1. Toilet paper. We found all that we could so we wouldn’t have to add in toilet training or teaching our older son alternative methods to “wipe.”
2. We explained for our children, who could only understand this is “not fair,” what it all meant. Helping them grasp what all the hunkering down at home was about.
3. Most recently, we laughed ourselves silly when finding our sneaky boys running with toilet paper rolls streaming behind. In the most serious of voices, “Mommy and Daddy this is caution tape for the Corona Virus.” What else could we do but roll it back up, let them play, and laugh about it.
2. Define Purpose
Purpose is our road map. It gives us focus and the power to act in accordance with our values. With more distractions in this novel workspace, you can see how easy it would be to find yourself wandering around the house or posting the kids up in front of the television while you take “just one more conference call.” Trust me we did it!
We decided after hearing that school would remain closed until May, it was time to redefine our Purpose; ensuring our children had stability and fun while we maintained our work performance. Clothing was optional for them at this point.
We pulled out the learnings from school; it was time to let our children be more independent. Oh yes, you may think this is a wild idea given their ages, but it’s been amazing!
The pantry is our children’s favorite place to play, but it’s also the place where frequent calls for “Mommy” happen. We’ve since moved their food down to their level so they can independently grab their own snacks. No need to wait for Mommy. Everyone is happy!
3. Script Goals
We need concrete, and short-term goals. Goal setting is not wishing and daydreaming, there’s no time for that. We are literally living with 30-second attention spans right now.
Goals need to be…
Specifically, Realistic: Clear and sensible. Sometimes “bath time” just goes out the window.
Measurable: We should be able to check goals off the list. “Did I get five minutes to go to the bathroom alone today? Check; mission accomplished!
Deadline-targeted. A deadline by which you’ll achieve your goal. Remember we’re in a short-term achievement phase here.
Value Anchored. These are your deeply felt beliefs. At the end of our day we make sure everyone can recall something fun and positive. It’s good to end on a positive note.
Written: Write them down because if you don’t, it’s just a dream. I use my Alexa, she the only one that gets to tell me what to do.
4. Manage the Tears!
No matter the age of your children, there’s a lot they don’t get to do right now. Help them manage those fits and tears with empowerment and empathy.
Ask questions instead of telling them what to do. Be sure to get down on their level, physically, so they can see your eyes in alignment with their own.
Use “AND” instead of “BUT.” When the tears start rolling down, showing them empathy for their tears followed by the word “BUT” easily dismisses the understanding you just showed them. Bridge the gap with the word “AND.”
At the End of the Day
So, here we are knee deep in week three of doing the best we can to settle into our new routine. We are accepting the defeat, somewhat gracefully. You can do this too by resetting your perspective, giving your home some new purpose with realistic goals, and by helping your children manage those big-kid emotions in a little-kid world.
Remember, you’re making some memorable moments that will likely result in late-night, stomach-cramping giggles while being exhausted by all of it.