Times are more uncertain now than any period in recent memory. Our entire way of life has been upended, and as of this writing, there’s no conclusive idea when life will return to “normal,” or if even such a return will be possible once we arrive at the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parents of students are especially feeling the strain of these uncertain times. Whether you’re a parent of an elementary schooler or a college student who has suddenly found themselves at home for the indeterminate future, you’ve had to think long and hard about keeping your kid occupied – and keeping yourself sane (especially if you are homebound with your children).
If you are working from home, here are some easy ways to find a comfortable, healthy routine in the midst of uncomfortable, uncertain situation:
Keep your time structured.
It’s important to keep a rigid time structure so that you can try to keep to a “normal” routine (as much as possible). Having a routine will bring feelings of comfort in these very unfamiliar circumstances.
• Set your alarm to wake you at the same time you’d normally get up for work.
• Enjoy breakfast with your family.
• Go to your home office the same time as you would ordinarily be arriving for work.
• Eat meals at your “normal” mealtimes.
• Go to bed at your usual bedtimes.
It’s important to keep your home and work worlds separated to the greatest extent possible. This will be challenging to everyone who is able to work from home, but it is possible to bring a degree of separation.
• Set up a professional space for yourself in which to accomplish your work.
• Your student should also have their own space set up for their optimum learning style. No doing schoolwork on the couch or in bed!
Stay on Track.
Keep track of deadlines, assignments, and timelines with shareable calendars. Most internet-connected devices come with fantastic calendars that you and your student can review with colleagues. Alternatively, a simple whiteboard works just as well. The most important thing is to remain aware that projects still have to get done, and deadlines aren’t going anywhere.
Get up and Stretch.
Without the familiar routines of the work environment and school, it’s easy to lose track of time. Before you or your student find yourself staring at phone and computer screens all day, schedule periodic short breaks to keep yourself active – and keep you motivated.
It is crucial to keep your body moving and to not sit for the entire day. Based on your abilities, consider:
• Climbing up and down a staircase 5 times.
• Lying flat on your back and doing leg lifts.
• Doing arm swirls – 10 in one direction, 10 in the other.
• Doing jumping jacks.
• Going for a walk outside (make sure to keep at least 6 feet apart from other people).
Whatever way you find works to stay active, push yourself to start with what’s comfortable, then in time, try to at least double it. If you start with 10 jumping jacks, try doing 20 by next week. If you go for a 15 minute walk, aim to walk for 30 minutes next time. Your body will thank you for keeping its cardiovascular system moving.
Even during a time of confusion and global uncertainty, life still has its joyous moments. Seek them out.
• Re-watch your favorite comedy, listen to your favorite music, play a game, or find an activity that your whole family can enjoy.
• Stay connected. FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and Zoom offer free methods to hear and see each other, even at home. Set up a virtual meeting with your coworkers, or have your student arrange online games, catchup sessions, and study times with their friends.
Maintain sensible portions at mealtimes, and make sure neither you nor your student overindulges in snacks. Even if you follow my advice and keep active, you’re still likely not getting as much exercise at home as you would in everyday life.
So go easy with the snacks, eat lots of fruits and veggies, and drink plenty of water. You don’t want to survive the COVID-19 pandemic only to suffer health problems later because of poor nutrition.
Times are greatly uncertain, and every day, the news brings more unpleasant feelings of anxiety. Take a step back, breathe, and remind yourself that you will get through this – because you have no other choice. Whether our circumstances resume as “normal” or we are at the forefront of a new way of living, remind yourself that the world is not ending and we will move all forward as the human race. Even if the future looks different from what we’ve known, or expected, we will all face it together.
No one has it easy right now, and no one can conclude what the future may bring. No matter what, take each day one day at a time, look for the silver lining in every cloud, find joy where you can, and do what you have to do to keep your mind sharp and your body performing at its best. Every one of us has a duty to keep each other safe, and in time, create a better world.