Ever thought of finding a balance in times of coronavirus when everything needs to be done at home? For me, the typical day started when the 5-am-alarm went on. There was silence in the house. I looked out the windows and the streets were empty. With a blanket, laptop on my lap and my feet by the heater, I started my day. It has been busy lately. I started article writing for work, specifically about stocks. This was one of my most precious moments. Life at home in the times of corona-crisis has been rarely so quiet.
By Vania Suazo
In the Netherlands we have been living with coronavirus for a whole year. Back in March 2020, my family had only been living here full-time for a couple of months. From then I have lived this experience in two different ways. On one side, I still have businesses and lots of strong connections to Honduras, my home country. I am caught between two time zones and realities. Schools went on lockdown, as also happened to the kindergarten I owned there. We were graduating our first promotion group when many uncertainties arose. In the Netherlands we started homeschooling. Everything shut down and time at home started increasing.
Balancing in times of coronavirus: a new normal
Managing life and work has been truly a journey. Coronavirus were placed upon a timeline which causes many ups and downs. From December 2020 to February 2021 we experienced a second and stronger lockdown. Having already adjusted more to such schedules and measurements made the process easier.
I work from home with flexible schedules. My partner works out of home every day in a very physically demanding job. This means I am always more involved in anything with our son and his responsibilities. When homeschooling started, it was quite an experience for me and our son, Adrian. Some say parents are not teachers. I would like to debate this statement. As parents we are one of life’s greatest teachers, though in an organic way. When we must teach academics, it is harder to be intentional. Doing so requires disposition and time. In our modern-day world, we do not have this at a large dispense.
How to find a Coronavirus-proof school? at home!
During these dynamics, we got weekly packages from school. Such packages required completion every week, containing all materials and lessons we needed to complete. Everything was in Dutch. This proved trickier than one may think. I had to trust my son that he understood the structure of his work and expectations. Thankfully, teachers were available through email or through calls for questions. We checked every homework before turning it in. My partner did a lot of revising after work.
We also got access to wide online educational platforms. Children gathered on a consistent-but-dispersed basis through video calls. Adrian was always happy to see his friends and teachers. We appreciated the realistic approach to at-home schooling. We did not experience extensive Zoom sessions. Certainly, more pressure and stricter requirements could have made the experience significantly harder.
Finding a balance through Changeable routines
Finding a balance it times of coronavirus also means changing our routines depending on events. However, it is always important to have one. Our son thrives when he knows what to expect. Following a schedule with planned breaks was always better. There could be days that leaving the house seemed more of an inconvenience than a must-do. I pushed myself in making it happen as it helped everyone’s energy levels. Some days it did not happen and finding out other ways to release our son’s energy was important. When he turned eight and knew how to use his step confidently, he had permission to go outside where we could keep an eye on him and play. I would change work positions and wave at him through the window. He also became more familiar with the neighborhood park. I always tried my best to go with him, though.
Live social relationships lacked throughout this period. When we look back at it we will see that there was always a huge need for children to simply be children. During the corona-pandemic children lacked utterly important socializing opportunities. In a nutshell, balance is paramount. The thousand and one things you are doing, your family, and mental health are all intertwined. (From the blog team: if your children need to tame their monkey minds, check out Yildiz’s post about yoga and mindfulness for kids).
Finding a balance through scheduling (with enjoyment)
One practice that really helped in my case is having a calendar with months in advance. This helped planning in all areas of life such as work, studies, family, and all other life projects. I enjoyed looking at all the changes in schedules and shifting things around. These changes showed that life does not always go as planned. Having a general overview prevents you from losing the bigger picture.
Of course, this was not the same every day: In some days keeping the momentum going was harder. Through these days I learned not to be so hard on myself. It is okay not to be so productive, to go a bit more enclosed in yourself or to get to be more present with your family. It was also easy to forget to play and enjoy, therefore we kept things that provide connection in our house, such as board games. We took lots of walks around different parks and cities all over the country. We always tried to leave the weekend free to disconnect. It is an important lesson for our son. We hope it all translates that in a busy world full of responsibilities, there is always time to just be present. This is what refills our energy bars in our hearts and brains.
Coronavirus-proof flexible working environment
Another major life-changer was creating a designated workspace. We do not have an office area at home. This led us to establish the dining table as an office. This could get hectic. With discipline, it stayed organized and we could still enjoy family dinner together. Staying up with house tasks and sharing the workload is also important. Having Adrian as an active participant with house chores helps a lot. Being eight years old, he can put his dirty clothes in the laundry and change himself. He can also clean up after himself, place plates, and utensils for food times. Sometimes he even helps cooking. It is certainly messier, but he enjoys the experience and so do we. It is also okay not to do this all the time when we have less availability.
Glance through a kaleidoscope
The efforts in finding a balance in times of coronavirus can be different in every household. Some households have their families near them. Others rely more on childcare and its derivatives. Some schools had to go into full-time online learning. Other learning centers were plainly caught off-guard. The range of situations is like looking through a kaleidoscope. Is it impossible that one solution fits all.
In such a broad range of experiences, we can use adaptable guidelines. Making sure everyone in your family has an active and acknowledged voice is the key. Establishing clear communication will always be a more transparent road to lesser problems. When finding a good balance in times of coronavirus, understanding where your child is will open your eyes. Knowing their individualized and developmentally appropriate expectations will change your view.
In the end, children have surpassed our expectations in being so adaptable. They have shown us they are ready to thrive in whichever situation they are positioned in. There are valuable lessons from our efforts in finding a balance in times of coronavirus. Take a moment to think about them. What has corona-times with your family taught you?