1. Take it slowly. Most of us have never had to accommodate the entire family together, continuously, for such an extended stretch of time. Tempers will inevitably fray, and new routines will not reveal themselves immediately. Call a house meeting, see yourself as a team, and establish the most important thing to each person – from some quiet time to a favourite TV programme – and how you will ensure they get it. Absolute clarity of communication is infinitely more reliable than telepathy!
2. Do NOT tackle any big DIY jobs now. This is absolutely not the time to turn the house upside down, render any room unliveable, or make undue mess. Also, most accidents happen at home so steer clear of ladders please. Instead, confine yourself to a good clutter clear. Get rid of anything that doesn’t work, you don’t like or can’t be mended immediately with either needle and thread or a tube of super glue.
3. Instead, fix small things for a sense of accomplishment. That loose handle, the dripping tap, the squeaky hinge; things that need basic tools and will contribute to making your household run more smoothly. Plus clean your windows! A lot of impact for little effort.
4. Open all windows and curtains as soon as you get up. Following on from the above, daylight is pure positive energy, and proven to boost our happy hormones. So, as soon as you wake, make it a habit to fling open all curtains or blinds, and open windows to let some fresh air in to detox stale overnight indoor air.
5. Enable flexibility. If this is the first time you’re working from home, it’s essential to designate a specific area to call your own, however small. And if you have to use the dining table, be prepared to clear it at mealtimes. Working from home can be very efficient, but not if it overtakes all non-working hours and space.
6. Eat on schedule. Much had been made of establishing a routine in this ‘new normal’, but I’m not convinced this is helpful when the external sands are continually shifting. Adaptability is more important. However, keep meals on track. Your food fuels you. And eating a proper meal at regular intervals, rather than grazing all day, will keep energy levels balanced as well as serving to bring your tribe together. This is imperative for continued good communication.
7. Lay the table. Everytime you come together around your table, honour the moment by laying it properly. It doesn’t have to be a full-on setting, but take the time to use a mat, put out cutlery and water glasses. Plus, if ever there was a time to use your favourite crockery, it’s now. Saving ‘best’ sets for a ‘special occasion’ carries with it the implicit notion that you are not enough, right here, right now, even on your own. Start dining like a champ off your finest porcelain today, and celebrate being alive.
8. Make space and time for some exercise. Even if it’s just 10 mins of standing push-ups against the kitchen counter, or a few stretches and star jumps next to your bed, it’ll help to keep muscles working , blood pumping and your mood even. Better yet, have a bit of a dance to a song on the radio, great for loosening shoulder muscles tightened by tension, or if you can, go for a brisk walk, proven to alleviate anxiety. And if you live alone, make a point of saying hello to anyone you see. We may have to social distance but we can still be socially engaged! It’s so important for our mental health.
9. Tidy before bedtime. No matter what sort of day you’ve had, have a good tidy up before you go to bed. Crumbs off the sofa, cushions straightened, plates into the dishwasher, and the dining table cleared ready for breakfast. It’s like cleaning your teeth. If you do it, you will be that much more prepared to seize a new day because you won’t need to defeat the gremlins of yesterday first.
10. Make your bed. For the same reasons, once you get up, make your bed. It’s a small act of self-discipline, when everything else feels so madly out of control, that can really help to keep you on track.
11. Establish a supportive ritual. Rituals can be calming and reassuring. And in anxious times they can be especially grounding. It could be as simple as burning essential oils while you work to downloading a meditation app and giving it a try. Elevate a new good habit to a ritual, and it’ll be something positive that you can take with you into your post-lockdown life.