We’re at the beginning of Week 2 of shelter-in-place here in Minnesota. It’s only been 10 days, but it feels so much longer. It’s like the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. We’re living the same day over and over and over again. Suddenly, Mondays aren’t as bad, and Saturdays aren’t as good. All the days just kind of meld together.
We have eight people living in a 3-bedroom house – 6 students and 2 working parents (thankful for that!) – all needing to get work done. All driving each other crazy. I’m not complaining. That’s pointless. We’re all in this together. It’s not easy on anyone.
So how do we get through this?
Here are 5 Things to do More/Less of During Shelter-in-Place:
Get out more/Stay home less
I know. I know. How are we supposed to get out more when we’re told to stay home? At least here in Minnesota, we can go outside. We just shouldn’t go places where other people are. It’s the perfect time to get out in nature and explore new places.
Take a walk.
Go for a drive or a bike ride.
Hike in the woods.
Just get outside!
Last weekend we went hiking at Pembina Gorge Recreation Area in northeastern North Dakota. It was cold, wet, snowy, and muddy – and we had a blast! It was a 2 hour drive each way and nothing was open along the way, but so what? We had all day. What else were we going to do? We’ve been there once before and have been wanting to get back. Now is the perfect time.
Go somewhere you’ve never been before. Discover places right in your backyard that you’ve never seen. Return to a place you’ve been wanting to go.
Be creative. Adventurous. Imaginative.
Read more/Watch less
It’s really easy to binge on Netflix or Disney+ right now. Really easy. And that’s okay. We need to be able to turn our minds off, relax, and be entertained. But let’s make it the exception, rather than the rule. TV is great for turning off your brain. Reading is great for stimulating it. We don’t want to awaken from our hibernation as a bunch of overly-entertained zombies. We want to be better people!
You’ve been wishing you had more time to read. Now’s your chance! Read that novel your friends have been talking about. Listen to a book that helps you grow mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. Pick up a Bible. Expand your leadership capacity. If you’re already a reader, choose a book outside of your usual genre to broaden your horizon.
Need help getting started?
Play more/Work less
I already work from home, so you might think sheltering in place isn’t a big change for me. That’s partially true. Although the location and essence of my work hasn’t changed, it has been a big adjustment to now having seven other people at home trying to work at the same time (three of which need assistance). It feels like I’m either working, helping kids with school, running errands for the family, or watching kids so my wife can work all the time.
Oh wait. That hasn’t really changed either.
The challenge for many of us is the same: now that we work from home, how do we keep work from being the home? In other words, how do we separate workspace from personal space? Family life from work life? It’s a lot easier to leave work at work when work is at work. It’s not so easy when work is at home. You don’t have to bring it home. It’s already there.
If your work is like mine, there will always be one more thing to do. You have 10 minutes while the kids are getting ready for bed, so you could just reply quick to that email. You weren’t going to work tonight, but you glance over at your “office” in the corner and she beckons you, “Come.” You’ve been helping the kids all day with school and now that the day is winding down, you need to be a responsible working adult. I get it. I struggle with these same tensions.
Here’s the thing: our kids are either going to remember this season as a time when mom and dad were stressed and seemingly worked all the time, or as a special time when their parents played and laughed more. We must consciously choose each day what kind of parent we are going to be.
Move more/Sit less
We’re all sitting around the house a lot more right now. Chiropractors and health clubs are going to be the benefactors when we emerge from our dens. How can we stave off the “Corona 15?”
Several years ago, I discovered the Pomodoro Technique which breaks work into intervals of 25 minutes with five-minute breaks in between. The idea is to laser-focus on a task for 25 minutes without distraction and then take a short break to refresh your mind and body before returning to the task or beginning a new one. It’s a great way to accomplish those tasks you’ve been putting off (just do it for 25 minutes) and to keep yourself fresh and alert throughout the day.
There are lots of great apps out there to help. This is the one I use. When the timer goes off, I stand up, walk around, do some stretches, or even a few quick exercises. This keeps my body active and my mind alert throughout the day.
At lunch time, we try to do a family exercise session, albeit with mixed results, since we have limited space and a wide range of age and abilities. Before dinner, we’ve been going outside together to play or go for a walk. Hopefully, once spring truly arrives in the north, we’ll get outside even more for some family recess.
Whatever your home looks like, I encourage you to set times for both individual and family movement.
Flex more/Structure less
Perhaps you’ve heard the conventional wisdom: the key to successful home school/work is structure. You need to structure your day, structure your work, structure your school, etc. I get it. I’m a structured person. Most of my kids need structure to succeed. Except for when they don’t.
Right now, life seems very chaotic (maybe because it is). Sometimes structure can be the calm in the chaos. Sometimes it exacerbates it. I don’t want my kids to fall behind academically, so I want to have structure to keep them on schedule. But not at the expense of relationship. If we keep driving our kids during this time, we can end up driving them away. Sometimes we need to tighten the reigns, sometimes we need to loosen them. Give enough structure to aid their learning but be flexible enough to change course.
Take a break.
Take a day off.
Do something different.
Shake it up a little.
The leadership word-of-the-day is pivot. We had a plan, but Covid-19 caused us to pivot – adjust our method, strategy, communication, etc. We’ve all had to pivot because of this pandemic. Don’t be afraid to make a daily pivot – an adjustment, change, or redirection of your daily schedule.
Imagine the End
Imagine yourself at the end of this pandemic. What do you want to know? How do you want to grow? What memories will you have created? What bad habits will you have broken? What good habits will you have started? What will be different as result? How will you have changed?
We’ve never seen anything like Covid-19 in our lifetime. Hopefully, we never will again. So, this is it. This is our time, our opportunity. We’ve been forced to pivot, slow down, and make changes to our daily life.
The question is: are the only changes going to be the ones that have been made for you, or will you choose to make changes for yourself during this time?