How to survive and thrive at home: Turn staying into your house during the coronavirus crisis into a holiday
Weeks, possibly months, of enforced home-dwelling stretch ahead of us. For some, this may seem a wonderful opportunity to enjoy cosy family time — heart-to-heart chats, cupcake-making, board games…
But for many, especially those who live alone, it’s a terrifying prospect to have no contact with the outside world.
My mother is 87 and lives 100 miles away in sheltered accommodation. My brother is nearby and visits weekly, but still I worry that she might become isolated. Yet I don’t feel I can take my kids up to see her for fear of putting her in danger.
Weeks, possibly months, of enforced home-dwelling stretch ahead of us, writes LOWRI TURNER
Luckily technology offers us ways to keep in touch, from FaceTime, to Skype and WhatsApp. For younger people this is already a lifeline, but for my mum? She used to have a mobile phone, but we had to call the landline first to ask her to put it on as she was ‘saving the battery’.
Now is the perfect time to go a little old school. ‘What about children writing a letter to grandma, or sending pictures?’, says relationship counsellor Denise Knowles (emotionalinsights.co.uk).
How else can we lessen corona claustrophobia? Dr Rose Aghdami, a consultant psychologist and resilience specialist (rare-consulting.com) offers some sage advice.
‘Have a structure to the day,’ she says. ‘It helps to feel like you’re in control.’
Denise suggests breaking up the day with meals and breaks at regular intervals. ‘Use the time to reconnect with people you haven’t spoken to for a while.’
Personally, I like a bit of DIY to stay busy. I have already made a set of curtains and three cushion covers. Denise also suggests painting, colouring and sudoku.
For families, there is no point in one person being busy while everyone else lazes about.
‘Call a family forum,’ advises business coach Ali Gowans. ‘Discuss who is going to be responsible for doing what in the house. It’s a chance to re-educate your kids on the reality of the working world as well as what it takes to run a home’.
Once you’ve had your family pow-wow, where you’ve set a routine, divvied up chores and discussed the challenges ahead, Ali says you need to establish regular ‘check-ins’ to make sure no-one is slacking off.
Personally, I like a bit of DIY to stay busy. I have already made a set of curtains and three cushion covers, writes LOWRI TURNER
But we are all going to need some fun, too. One way I’ll be avoiding cabin fever is daily exercise outside with my younger son, 17. We had just started going to the gym together and he enjoyed the one-on-one time.
For those living alone, Denise suggests trying something new. ‘There are often so many things we have put off doing. Why not learn a language online or go through old photographs?’
For my daughter, 12, we’re planning nightly TV hour together and my oldest son, 19, and I have discussed cooking together. Before corona, I was often so whacked from work I didn’t have the energy to engage with the kids.
The fact we are already planning time together is a revelation. Still, Dr Aghdami stresses the importance of non-group time too. ‘Plan some regular alone time each day — in another room, in a garden or a balcony.’ Because in these stressful times, we all need a few minutes each day to switch off.
- If you’re still stuck for ideas on what to do during lockdown, over the coming weeks the Mail will be offering ideas on how to keep busy, books to read and hobbies to take up so you can survive and thrive during your time indoors.