In 2014, we downsized to a townhome as new “empty nesters”. All of our children lived in other states and we wanted an easy-care, safe-to-leave-for-travel, smaller place for our new stage of life. We had an office, a guest room, and an open-concept kitchen/livingroom combo – plenty for the two of us.
Fast forward to 2020… the coronavirus has four of us living in and working from our little townhouse, often with one additional and her sweet beagle sleeping on the couch. Office desks are in the hall. The guest bedroom has converted to a recording studio. The open-concept downstairs plays tug-of-war between sleeping quarters and morning coffee-making and evening all-family TV watching interruptions. Online schooling and conference calling are desperately searching for quiet spaces and fighting battles for bandwidth.
Life has changed dramatically.
We are a family that loves each other deeply and we are known to be fairly low-maintenance when temporarily residing in locations away from home.
But this is different.
This is not a vacation or a voluntary friendly visit. Although some of us had chosen to live together before the virus crisis, now this arrangement carries the descriptor of “have to”. We have to stay inside away from others, we have to go to school and work from home, we have to do this for… no one knows how long.
And we are all together in this place with the additional pressures of fears of the unknowns, health concerns, food and supplies challenges, separations from friends, and restrictions from the routines that give us life.
We are all adjusting in our own ways. Our personalities and preferences bump up next to each other occasionally. Ok, often. Some feel lonely. Others, claustrophobic. Some fear they will be the cause of family illness.
Plenty of feelings exist
that cannot even be identified yet.
One thing is common between us all – we are committed to get through this together -and get through it having learned and grown and hopefully come out the other end as better people for each other and our world.
Some of the things that have been helpful so far:
- Communication – Have a “house discussion” – How are we all doing emotionally, logistically? We talked about our feelings and also how much outside interaction and inside invitations make us uncomfortable. We plan to meet like this regularly to check up on each other.
- Conflict resolution – Name the issues. We are each very different and we respond differently to stress. We want to give grace to each other and not expect that we will all react in the same ways. We are attempting to resolve irritations and miscommunications quickly.
- Consistency – I’ve read that regular awake and devotion/reflection times, exercise and eating routines, as much as possible, are helpful when homebound.
- Creativity – Digital ways of working and schooling, new on-line shopping methods, new furniture arrangements, experimenting with new recipes to use what is on hand have surfaced as we considered new options.
- Connections – Using face-visual technology to connect with friends and family doesn’t fill our social-distancing vacuum, but it helps to actually see the smiles… and the tears. We are praying for those who are serving us in health care, working essential jobs, and getting sick or desperately trying to avoid that risk.
- Creation and Sunshine – We are getting outside as much as possible. For some of you, a short-duration open window may be all you can handle. A few deep breaths while I am there slow my heart rate and calm my soul.
I’m certain your life has changed quite a bit in the last few weeks. What is helping you manage your new reality?