As we move into yet another ‘new normal’ of working from home while our kids do home-based learning – how can we make the best of it? One mama searches out the positive
As we progress through the recent layers of Covid restrictions I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of “here we go again.” If I could insert a covid-fatigued emoji here with the eyes lifted skyward in semi-disbelief and tired acceptance I would. At the same time, though, I certainly feel a sense of being more adaptable, flexible, and taking things more in my stride this time around.
As we move back into a home-based learning scenario everything is set, my children know what to do, they’ve done it before. We’ve got this. Then I remember the challenges; helping my children to stay on top of the process, crafting new routines, not seeing my colleagues face-to-face and the dauntingly steep technical learning curve.
But let’s not forget the positives; more time spent together as a family, a chance to re-calibrate, the creativity which I embraced on work projects and through our family entertainment experiments of quizzes, treasure hunts, room re-organisation and themed dinners. My epiphany that spending time in nature is vital for my wellbeing stands out too, since that time, I’ve soaked up most of Singapore’s green spaces by bike and on foot. On reflection, I did retain some of these ‘good habits’ so maybe there is a chance to add more to the repertoire during this phase?
Searching out the positives
One positive to come out of all this is the increased awareness around Mental Health and the acceptance that it’s okay to not be okay in these turbulent times. I can really relate to the emotion of “languishing” that’s been highlighted in the media recently. It names this feeling of “meh” that I have been noticing – not quite flourishing, a feeling of treading water. It’s a hard one to articulate when someone asks, “how are you?” Research shows that ‘if we name it, we tame it’ so, I’ve started responding along the lines of “Well, I guess I’m languishing really, not feeling on top of the world, not at the bottom either but plodding along…” After all, most of us are probably feeling something similar from time to time, we all get it.
In my counselling conversations, I’ve been helping students to reflect on what helped last time during home-based learning and tighter restrictions. The notion of a balancing act, things that we can do more or less of to move forward well has dominated sessions. As has, being aware of what we can and can’t control, looking at ways of coping and what helps to bring an increased sense of wellbeing. Self-care runs like a golden thread through all these discussions.
As we move into yet another ‘new normal’ how can we make the best of it? To rise to the challenges and embrace the good? I keep coming back to the word ‘simplicity.’ Appreciating the simple things that each day brings, taking notice of a beautiful sunrise or sunset, enjoying something nourishing to eat or drink, moving my body in some way and practising meditation. In the next few weeks, I hope to learn to knit and to be purposefully kind to someone every day. Of course, everyone will have different ways of coping and navigating this period gracefully.
Lurking in the back of my mind is the sense we are moving further and further away from being able to return ‘home.’ The vaccine role out gave us a glimmer of hope, but we seem to lurch from one big school holiday to the next with hopes of a return thwarted by new turns of events both here and abroad. I have started living vicariously, joining every possible Facebook page of my hometown, devouring local guidebooks and publications. I’ve even completed a virtual walking tour of the length of Britain. These insights and connections feel more and more important.
Are action and distraction the key?
For the last week or so, I have been engrossed in The Serpent on Netflix. One of the characters recalls his mother’s wisdom; “all you need is a book and a bicycle, and you can go anywhere.” These days I might add Netflix itself as another way to transport ourselves to another time and place. Perhaps action and distraction hold the secret of how to shift from languishing to flourishing whilst acknowledging that ‘it is what it is and, this too shall pass.’
Yes, we’ve been here before, but remembering each time is different, and that there’s always something new to learn, can help to find positives in the “here we go again.”