Your alarm may still go off at the same time, but I’ll bet what happens next is not the same as it was back in February. There is no denying our daily lives have been turned upside down in both stressful and heartwarming ways. While recent stories have made headlines of news anchors in boxers while they are giving an interview, we all have our dirty little video conference secrets. Did you shower that morning? In the last two mornings? What about your bunny slippers? Are they still a thing? The kids are parading through your video conference (because snack time waits for no person), the dog and cat are video bombing your meetings; the world has gone in a direction none of us were quite prepared for. Now, add a dash of work-life-now I’m a homeschool teacher-balance, and what you have is a potential recipe for a real family crisis. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
From a social perspective, we are spending a lot of quality time with our families. Maybe this is something you struggled with in the speed drill that used to be our “normal.” This is actually a really good thing, or at least it can be. I know we are all trying to find the new normal, but one adjustment we need to make is, relax. Yes, you have your deadlines still. Yes, you are now teaching grade school math (and boy they don’t teach it like they used to), while designing random art projects, somehow being a music teacher, writing … and you get the point. Yes, I am still telling you to relax. The deadlines will be met, and the kids will learn. However, make sure it’s happening in a way that is working for you.
This isn’t the time to squeeze yourself into some impossible corner that no horde riding in from the east could ever rescue you from. This is the time to stand up for your needs. Arrange your daily schedule in a way that can work for your entire family. Things will go much more smoothly, and your family will be much happier in the process. Talk to your boss. Let them know what you are doing to make things work. Talk to your kids’ teachers. Maybe even write a letter to the principal.
This isn’t a time for stereo silence; it’s a time for unity. Let the cat bomb your video call. Who said everything had to be so formal all of the time? Maybe this is a time for a change? Maybe, just maybe, this is a time where we can embrace our differences and glory in our imperfections. And for heaven’s sake, cut yourself some slack. Go on a walk with your family, turn that music/art/math assignment in … when it works for your family. Your family’s health and happiness right now are what matters most.
K. Maravet Baig-Ward is a psychiatry resident and can be reached on Twitter @drmaravet.
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