We are now entering the second week of our shelter in place in Chicago, and the most recent news reports suggest that we will be advised to stay in our homes until the end of April.
Given how much has changed over the last two weeks, that timeline may be extended, so now is the perfect time to start settling in to this new reality.
As we do so, I hope that we may begin to shift our perspective from “surviving” to “thriving.”
How do we move from surviving to thriving in quarantine?
Personally, this time to slow down and turn inward is exactly what I’ve needed for a while. I have been overscheduled, tired, and crabby for too long.
Of course, I knew before that my way of life was unsustainable. The problem was that I didn’t know how to change. In that way, I have been secretly grateful for the opportunity to take a breath.
Maybe you also feel secretly relieved because you, too, felt like you were on a treadmill that couldn’t or wouldn’t stop.
Now, of course, we have no choice. Through a series of events far beyond our control, we have all been forced to let the unnecessary distractions of our lives fall away.
For some of us, it is a long overdue and welcome relief; for others, it is a terrifying and god awful wrench that has been thrown into a beautiful life.
Both perspectives are acceptable and understandable. And, the truth is, most of us probably feel a little combination of both.
What makes this moment particularly challenging is not necessarily the fact that we have to stay at home, but rather the fact that there is so much uncertainty. None of us are quite sure what comes next, and we are struggling to figure out the next “right” thing to do.
I have faith that this will become clear in time.
Until then, I encourage you and your family let go of our “old” standards and norms so that you can welcome in new expectations that reflect our changing reality.
In the past couple of weeks I’ve seen a lot of articles and memes that encourage everyone to let themselves off the hook right now- don’t worry about screen time, don’t worry about what you’re eating, don’t worry about starting new habits. The list of things that you don’t “have” to do right now goes on and on.
Personally, I disagree with that mindset.
I’m not disagreeing because I think this time isn’t hard or because I believe that this a good time to beat yourself up; I’m disagreeing because I acknowledge that this time is hard, AND I think that we can do better.
Sure, maybe the “resign and surrender” approach was ok when we thought that we just had to survive two weeks at home. But now, we are beginning to see that the changes we are undergoing may be longer lasting. Some of them may even be permanent.
Old systems are faltering while new ways of thinking, new ideas about how we can be and how the future can be are emerging.
This is a unique moment in time in which you have the opportunity to consider and participate in the creation of a new world.
Let’s not do away with standards and expectations; rather, let’s adjust them to make things better, and let’s start at home.
What changes need to be made in your home in order to help create a new world?
Obviously, I can’t tell you what kind of changes you need to be making, nor can I tell what the right choices are for your family. All I know is that some of our societal norms and expectations are falling away, and while that is terrifying, it also has the potential to be incredibly liberating.
Let’s take remote learning as an example.
As you know, you have always been your child’s teacher, but now, with the rise in e-learning, that role has been made official.
Of course, you can always decide to outsource this particular role, and if you do, please reach out to The Chicago Family Tutor.
Otherwise, this is an opportunity to ask yourself how you do this particular task YOUR way.
How can you inspire your child’s learning during this time?
Figure out how to help your student enjoy learning as much or more than you did by reflecting on what inspired you as a student.
It’s probably not worksheets and busy work; it’s probably real life experience. Therefore, you’ll both have more fun if you’re exploring day to day life rather than stressing over worksheets.
Do not worry about doing it perfectly, and don’t worry about your child doing it perfectly either.
Pro tip for those struggling to balance it all: don’t try to do your work and their school work simultaneously if that doesn’t work for your family.
If your kids are older and more independent, everyone working at the same time is awesome. But don’t feel the pressure to do it in a certain way if that doesn’t work for you.
Feel free to set up separate times in which both tasks can exist independently so that you are available if your child needs help.
If you find that you and your child butt heads while you try to work together, recognize that you are being offered an opportunity to learn and grow as a parent. Instead of reacting, try reflecting, and using the conflict to figure out how you can realign as teammates rather than opponents.
And if all else fails, just take a break.
The Most Important Thing
Throughout it all, remember that you are always modeling for your kids.
This doesn’t mean that you have to bear the burden of being perfect. What it means is that you have the opportunity to show them how to fail gracefully, how to make mistakes without shame, how to admit error, how to apologize and how to manage emotions.
I will be the first to admit that it’s a lot. But I also know that you can do it. So rather than giving up and lowering your standards, let’s take the time (because now, you’ve got it) to figure out how to make things BETTER.
While you’re wrestling with that, don’t forget this one important thing: these are your kids, and you love them.
They are your people, and it is with them and through them that you are creating a new paradigm in a rapidly changing world. Maybe we can start to consider that the change could be positive. And you guys are helping to make that positive change.
I mean, isn’t that why you had kids in the first place?