Your home is your castle? Well, how do you like it now that you have to stay there maybe 24/7?
The challenges we are facing during the pandemic are intriguing. I commented to a friend yesterday, that I was distressed to hear so many stories about people who are struggling to spend time at home with their families. I’ve long know a lot of ‘career’ people who enjoyed the imbalance they had created in life by abandoning a real sharing of obligations and leaving a heavy load (often children, domestic tasks) to a partner or others (including schools and teachers). Now, some of that is coming to buck; no place to run, no place to hide.
My wife and I took a decision decades ago to put family life high relative to work and kept some strict rules, such as leaving work by a certain time to be able to get home and prepare and eat dinner with our children.. But, it went beyond just family; we are people of faith and we tried to respect that by how we used our time. For instance, we have NEVER worked during Holy Week; no problem in the UK or Caribbean, where Good Friday through Easter Monday are holidays, but not soin the USA where Christians celebrate Easter Sunday but not publicly the other days around it. Admitted, my wife’s current work involves a lot of travel, she tries to be home for a weekend in the worst of circumstances. We also never were in the habit of bringing work home; the line had to be drawn. But, many others loved to keep them blurred and never really focused on who was not getting their attention, especially if their incomes were high enough to pay off some of the problems, eg with elite private schools or domestic help or fancy trips.
I think the importance we put on family life is having a positive pay-off now. Spending 3 weeks in my mother-in-laws house over many Christmases means that now she is into her 2nd month with us is not an unusual or unbearable situation.
A good friend, who works as a clinical psychologist, was on local TV yesterday morning talking about (couples) communication issues. It’s apparent that many close relationships are being strained. But, some of the points she made that resonated were:
- Some men are good communicators; so are some women. Some women are good at communicating certain things, but so too are some men.
- Listening to children (and others) is more than just hearing but paying attention to what is really being said. (I like giving our teen pride of place at dinner to share news about her day; she has a voice but empowering her clearly, I think, helps her see that it’s not a bag a words.)
Social distancing is one of the biggest challenges most are facing. However, because we are staying home a lot it’s not something that challenges us too much except for dinner. We have space and can stay 6 feet/2 metres apart most of the time. We have made sure that the protocol is respected by anyone who comes to the house. Friends who’ve come to collect mangoes I offered have picked them up from the front gate post. A young elite swimmer who’s been coming to use our pool passes by the outside of the house, and he and his mother stay as far from the house as they can while he’s in the water. We chat at a distance. It’s part of the new normal. We accept it and respect it.
We’re getting used to travelling around with our masks and sanitizers, and assume that will be part of life for some time to come, if not forever. Being on good terms with those whom we say we love and care for is vital at any time, but more so now, as what seems like an unending saga goes on for another day, and on, without clear end. That uncertainty really takes a toll on many and having at least a few people close by who can understand and discuss and allay the fears that come with that may prove to be the biggest challenge yet, in the long run.