As we adapt to this new normal and ease into the Summer period. At a time where we usually look to perhaps work a little less, have the kids home from school and are about to go on a Summer holiday and spend some more quality time with the family. Aaah……this year I am not really sure what is different from the past few months?
In reality many of us have had the joy of homeschooling as well as working from home. Our houses, which the primary use for many was for looking after small children, having family suppers together on the evenings and weekends. They have now been turned into places where one and sometimes two parents need to work from home and concurrently where many children are spending the entire day in the house either being home schooled or to be frank just chilling as the teenage expression is, (in actual fact there is a word called ‘lamping’ which apparently means one level of activity lower than chilling, where you just sit or lie on a couch and apart from your fingers and thumbs moving on an ipad or controller there is little or no other activity), there is unfortunately for the lampers times when they do actually need to get up or eat something. I am sure that these issues will be resolved in time.
On a slightly more serious note, many households have literally re-organised their social integration and the overall level of activity. It is important to note that most people assume that their houses will only be used part-time and that one or both adults will be out at work, as well as all children over the age of 4 or 5 will be at school most of the day, in normal times. However, dining rooms have now been repositioned into communal work spaces, spare rooms have become offices and kitchen tables have become homework stations.
There are many advantages that people have found from working from home. These include the lack of a daily commute certainly into a big city, the ability to be more productive by not constantly being distracted by either social interactions or unnecessary pestering and the ability to use that time to exercise, meditate, and spending more time in general with the family is of course very welcome.
However, it does not come without considerable issues. First and foremost, is the size of accommodation. If you have an extra room or two that can be turned into a designated office especially if it is an area of the house e.g a loft where one won’t be constantly disturbed by other people this works very well. However, many people, especially people living in flats and/or with young children find this very difficult. Younger workers that are living in shared accommodation that literally have a single small bedroom that is their own and have to spend not only the whole night but now the whole day in one small tiny space where sometimes they need to be working on their bed can be psychologically and emotionally exhausting. Also, having young children, certainly 2 or more that are under the age of 12 makes it very difficult to work from home, homeschool them and have healthy emotional interactions.
Psychologically, human beings are social creatures, but we also need some time to ourselves. Introverts, which are defined psychologically as people that get energy and are rejuvenated by having time by themselves or just with one or two other people, need more time and space than extroverts. Extroverts get rejuvenated by interacting with others, and while introverts hate cocktail parties and networking meetings, extroverts love them.
So, introverts that have enough space and either are good at home schooling or have older teenagers probably will never want to go back to commuting every day. Whereas an extrovert that lives in a small flat with 3 young children probably can’t wait to go back to their workplace. Obviously many of us are somewhere in between. What most of us want is the right balance for who we are as individuals.
As we move into a situation where many countries have opened up their economy but still are asking for significant social distancing we are each going to have to find the right balance. If we have one of those situations where we are finding it uncomfortable and difficult being at home there is obviously more stress and the stress, unless managed very well, is going to create significant conflict in the house. Of course this conflict gives opportunity to deal with issues that perhaps have not been dealt with in the past. But it will also exacerbate underlying issues that could cause even more problems. On the extreme side we know unfortunately that children that are being abused by a family member will be finding things even more intolerable. Also, people that unfortunately are being beaten or abused by their spouse will also find it even more challenging. As for both these groups being able to get out of the house is often their one area of escape at least temporarily. However, this is also problematic for people that are in conflict with their children or partners.
What is likely is one of two possible scenarios, either, people will find a way to adapt to this new normal and be able to have significantly better quality lives than they had before. In particular using that time that they don’t have to commute to become physically, emotionally and spiritually more healthy. Or unfortunately the opposite, where the difficulties will just cause other issues to occur which will make it harder and harder to function well.
It is an unfortunate reality that often the poorest and least educated in the country are likely to suffer more. However, there is no particular reason today why we can’t use the tremendous resources online to take an exercise class, join in a meditation or yoga group and find like minded people that we can talk to. Like all situations of difficulty the summer holidays present an opportunity to improve our own life and the ability for us to connect with our loved ones better or unfortunately the opposite for some.
Wishing everyone an enjoyable Summer where they will be able to achieve the former rather than the latter.