My friends and I have set up a zoom meeting each day for the kids to check in with each other. At 12:30 my daughter logs in and all I hear are the voices of Year 5 girls all saying, ‘I can’t see you’, ‘who is online?’ ‘Why can’t I hear you.’ Occasionally this is interspersed by someone actually asking a relevant question or sharing something about their day.
After two days of listening to this I banish my daughter to her room, so I didn’t have to hear the inane chatter! It made me realise that clearly my usual calm patience was eroding into an unfocused ratty demeanour. My lack of focus has not left my work untouched either. It’s not because I’m not used to working from home; I’ve had 4 1/2 years’ experience. It’s not because the kids are home as they are old enough to just get on with their schoolwork. It’s an unusual unsettling feeling of uncertainty and concern. Uncertainty about our current national and global crisis, about job security, financial stability. Concern for my parents who live an hour away, and for my children and friends. So much whirring around in my head.
In a way ‘normal’ life seems so frivolous, so unimportant. Yet it’s the pieces of our normal lives that should steady us. They should be the anchor that holds us in place. Even work feels somehow irrelevant despite the fact I am one of the lucky ones who still has work to do at home. So much of normal life has changed: no socialising with friends and family, no going to work or school for a lot of people, no going about our daily lives as usual.
So, what do I do to retether myself and refocus? Well I’m still working on that! For now, here are a few things I am doing.
I’m spending quality time with the kids. We are a very tactile family so lots of cuddles and hugs makes us all feel more secure. They really are amazing little human beings and I always cherish time with them. Listening to my daughter’s stories that she writes with such eloquence, looking at the wonderful pictures my son draws and listening to the endless commentary on Minecraft. These ‘little’ things are the big things that matter! They are almost 10 and 11 so at some point soon they won’t want to hang out with their Mum. I’m making the most of it!
Getting some fresh air taking the dog out. Enjoying our usual route stomping across fields in our walking boots. I really relish this time now that it is restricted to just once-a-day.
I call my parents every day to check in with them. I’m overly concerned about the contents of their fridge and cupboards and we always end the call with ‘stay safe’. Living an hour away from my parents has always meant that we don’t see each other every week. However, knowing we can’t see each other at all now makes our conversations more meaningful even though we just talk nonsense.
And tonight, I went on my own zoom call with my friends and yes, there was lots of, ‘I can’t see you’, ‘who is online?’ and ‘how do I see you all?’ Once we figured the tech, we got onto catching up. Some serious talk about all our situations to begin with – we have a doctor and a teacher in the group and those who are self-employed. Chat soon descended into the inappropriate chatter we normally spout! Friends keep me sane. They are definitely one of my anchors so catching up by any means is better than nothing.
Music plays a big part in my life and always has. I love to listen to songs that get me singing, dancing, reminding me of great times and generally feeling good. My artists of choice at the moment are, The Weekend and Neneh Cherry. Neneh Cherry reminds me of when I was 10 when I got her album on cassette for my birthday. I even have the lyrics to Buffalo stance written and doodled on my toilet wall! Music puts me in a great state of mind assuming it’s the right kind. If I really need to get motivated with something physical like exercise or cleaning, then old school Prodigy really gets me going!
As I wasn’t working today, I chose to do some jobs and DIY around the house I’ve been meaning to do. It’s amazing what a sense of achievement you can get from fitting a new loo seat and door handle to your bathroom! I’m a great list maker but also a bit of a procrastinator so crossing things off really does boost my mood.
And finally, to my work. I’ve created a great workspace. Comfy chair, desk, a place for all my books and files. I’m a tidy desk tidy mind kind of gal! When I need to focus or be creative, I like to work on a large piece of paper and dump all my random ideas for a project or to do tasks onto it. I don’t work so well tapping on a keyboard. I wrote this blog on paper before dictating to file. Retro I know!
So, for me, my physical work environment can massively affect my focus. However, sometimes I can really crack on sat on the sofa passively watching This Morning! Setting myself specific tasks for each day helps, even down to setting morning and afternoon tasks. It helps stop the overwhelm from looking at a to do list and not knowing where to start at 8:30 am.
As we move from days to weeks in our homes, we need to carve out our new normal and care for ourselves as well as others. Doing what keeps us balanced that protects our well-being is vital to us popping out the other side of this as determined and well-balanced beings. What this situation should make us realise is that our relationships and social interactions with our friends and family, having a sense of purpose, enjoying the day-to-day activities are far more important than the things we can buy in a shop.
And so now, after a day of hanging out with the kidlets and doing a spot of DIY to some cool tunes, I feel recharged to get back to work with focus and determination. I know that I need to continue to check-in with myself to see how I am feeling and not just focusing all my energies on others. What’s on your agenda to keep you anchored?