“If you love yourself, STAY AT HOME, keep the virus out.”
Being a South African at the moment is tough. We are outside, braai and socializing people. Now with the rise of the Corona virus in South Africa, our president took the very brave step and put the whole of South Africa under lock down for 21 days. At first many thought “holiday, fun, braai and so much more”, not realizing what lock down meant. Not even dog walking or jogging is allowed, and you are only allowed to leave your home for essential services or to buy food. Schools closed earlier than usual and will be closed until further notice. Being a VA, mean that work still needs to continue, but now I have to entertain a 6 year old, 3 year old and 2 year old……… for 21 days. I googled everything for 2 days, from not getting depression under lock down, to school activities for kids, to keeping your family life as stable as possible. And even now a few days later, still more WhatsApp’s, Ideas etc. are doing the rounds to make our “new” norm as normal as possible. For me the following tips helped to keep me focused and proactive as VA:
WORKING WEIRD HOURS
- Inform your clients that you are moving your time table around to accommodate your kids, and that you will focus on certain projects during different times than usual.
- Every reasonable person on earth is aware of this epidemic, be reasonable, positive and gracious when hard decisions and issues need to be handled.
- Set up your “office” so that you can be with your kids and work. For me this personally meant doing most of my work on my mobile, and moving the rest out to when I have time to sit in front of my PC. Personally this freed up a lot of time while being with the kids.
(Please note this is how I have done it the last couple of days, but you can change it as fitting to your situation. The most important is to keep doing what works for you and your family.)
- Stability is created by a healthy routine
- Wake Up, drink your java, put on clothes (it is important not to stay in your pj’s the whole day) and do some work.
- When the kids wake up, make them breakfast, do a “school activity, craft and arts, read them a story”, and let them play for 30 minutes outside to catch some rays. Vitamin D is important for staying positive. Remember staying healthy and social distancing is the important during this epidemic. If you do go outside while staying in a flat, draw crayon lines on the floor in which areas everyone are allowed to stay in. Now jump on your phone and start working. This time is usually great if you have to keep up with your social media and networking. If you have lost clients or have a loss of income, now is the time to search for new opportunities.
- Prepare lunch, and involve the kids. Usually they enjoy to eat what they help made.
- After lunch, let them have their 30 min screen time. I hope for your sake a nap follows. Usually mine sleep between one to two hours. During nap time I check my emails and see if any new projects or urgent messages need to be handled.
- When everyone is a wake normally a fruit or yogurt are enjoyed, and then it is “active time”. Their brains were stimulated during the morning, now we need to get the legs moving. Find a fun kids yoga session online and join in. This is relaxing for young and old, followed up with exercising with anything heavy. A butternut for kid’s weights, onion bag for adult weights, jumping rope, short sprints and many more. You can jump online amd get x100 ideas.
- And lastly you can make dinner. Let the kids have a bath on their own while you sit and relax with glass of wine, coffee, tea or cold drink.
- Let them have some screen time again if needed. And now you can jump on the rest of the work not yet done. Personally for me, I do the work that takes less thinking as the day is more tiring while looking after kids and working. That being said, as Coronavirus takes over work is also getting less. I do not need to work after 22:00 anymore, a luxury at this moment.
- Remember you made it through today, tomorrow you can do it again.
STAYING HEALTHY MENTALLY
- Prioritize your kids’ needs before your own.
- Remember kids are part of the vulnerable list and can get sick easily, please stay at home to keep the virus out.
- This is a strange time for them also. Do not show them you are tired or scared. Keep going, this lock down will not last forever.
- Use technology such as WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype and FaceTime for children to keep in contact with grandparents, maternal parents, family and friends.
- Prioritize your relationship
- Lock down can bring your relationship issues into sharp focus if both of you are confined at home. Now you have to talk, listen and be in each other’s personal space. Stay positive and always talk with respect.
- Make time for each other especially if you have children. When they have screen time, try to sit with each other and talk about what is worrying you, how to overcome your fears, and plan for the future.
- If your relationship is rocky try to find online help, podcasts, seminars etc. Now you have the time to work on the problems.
- Lastly if you are in an abusive relationship, please go online and find help for your sake and that of your children. You will be seen as venerable and can be removed.
I am not a psychologist or remotely knows what it takes to run a country under lock down. But I do know this lock down did make me appreciate the small blessings I usually take for granted. Things like going to the shop, dropping kids at school, visiting friends and family, walking outside or having small talk with neighbors; made me realize we as humans chase after the next day, often missing today. I hope I can keep some of my own tips going in the future when our reality changes to post lock down again. Maybe being a VA prepared me in some why for the lock down, as I have been doing all the above, just without the kids around 24/7. Stay healthy mentally and physically. And remember being with family during this time is special, we may never have this solitude again.
Written for VaConnect