It’s right out of a sci-fi movie, the streets of New York have become desolate, and the store shelves are empty. The world now faces a new common enemy, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is changing the life as we know it, and joy is hard to find in these challenging days.
Today, most parents around the world are working from home with their children being out of school. Everyone is trying to figure out how to live the new normal. And while keeping the kids at home calms our worries about not catching the virus, it brings on a new stress to suddenly manage every responsibility we have under one roof. And those who aren’t able to leave their posts have the additional pressure of trying to find extra support.
It’s easy to react negatively and be triggered when we experience unexpected changes. The fear of the “what ifs”, unmet needs, and attachments to how things used to be, can cause tensions to run high. As always, when my mind and emotions become cluttered, I turn to the principles of the KonMari Method™ to help me through.
Here are some tips using the principles of the KonMari Method™ to help you organize your day and find joy during this difficult time.
1. Commit yourself to tidying up your home the best you can. Being homebound is easier when you have a clutter-free space for the family to be together, a quiet place to work, and cozy spots to relax. Discuss your goal as a family so everyone can share their personal needs, and work as a team to divide and conquer.
This does not mean full tidying marathon (you certainly can if that’s your family goal), but make a top priority to clear the table and counter tops so you have plenty of surfaces for different type of activities. And always make the bed and leave no piles on the couch so there are places to relax.
Involve your children to create a contract to show that you are all in this together. Write something like “We are committed (or “will work as a team” for younger children) to treat our home and things with respect. We will put things back to where they belong and keep our space organized.” Have everyone sign it and post it. Let the kids decorate it gives them more ownership and ask them to be the “police” to make sure everyone follow the contract.
2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle for the next few months. What are your musts? Daily outdoor time for the kids? Independent reading or quiet play time between certain hours so you can get work done? Think about the details involved to take the next step.
Create a simple set of family rules and limitations. Follow your children’s lead to come up with ways to resolve conflicts and what the consequences are. Again, it’s always good to post this where the family can see and reference when needed.
3. Finish discarding first of your expectations of how you imagine things will work for the next few months. We’re all experiencing this for the first time and it will take patience to learn the new rhythm of our days. It’s a process of trial and error. Choose to keep the schedule and activities that feels easy and natural. Let go of the ones that feels like a power struggle and don’t spark joy.
4. Tidy by category, not by location can be thought of as dealing with meeting the needs of your child, instead of getting frustrated with the person.
Parenting expert Amy McCready of Positive Parenting Solutions says “Kids have 2 buckets that need to be filled on a DAILY BASIS – Attention buckets and power buckets. If these buckets aren’t filled in positive ways, your child will take matters into their own hands and start misbehaving. In their eyes, negative attention is better than NO attention.”
When my 6-year-old refuses to help or follow directions, it’s often because he’s feeling overwhelmed by the task, scared to try something new, or he is distracted by something else he’d rather be doing. Instead of getting mad, which make matters worse, it’s always easier to approach him with compassion and offer assistance. Take advantage of a teaching moment to talk and guide them through the steps of a challenging task. Not only this will help your children feel more confident and proud of their accomplishment, you’ll feel good about your parenting too for not yelling or escalating the situation.
5. Follow the right order works for tidying, but also makes a thoughtful schedule for your day.
Clothing: It’s definitely comfy to stay in pajamas while working from home, but changing out of your clothes may also change your mindset and the way you move. So start the day by putting on something that sparks joy and energizes you.
Books: Reading independently or together, is good for everyone’s mind, body, and soul. A book on an Ipad that reads to your child can be helpful when you need a moment to yourself.
Paper: Draw, fold an airplane, cut snow flakes, create a collage, write, crumble it up and play a game of toss, even get the kids to help shred them! There are so many paper activities you can fill the day with. And the best part is you can recycle it all when it’s time to clean up.
Komono/Miscellaneous: From music, to science, or math to art, the kitchen is a great place for learning and creativity. Here’s a link to fun edible craft activities that looks like fun without any waste! (Careful: Sugar can lower the immune system, so go for the projects that uses more fruits for that little boost of vitamin C.)
My favorite crafts are to repurpose recyclables and let the kids explore and use their imagination. Here’s my son making a Ispy game out of a pizza box.
Sentimental: Take advantage of the family time to focus on sharing about your childhood, look through old photos and tell bedtime stories about your family history. You may also want to schedule regular FaceTime sessions with distant family who can read a book to them, or just catch up on what they are doing with their time at home.
6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy as you reflect on your day after the children have gone to bed. Be proud of the challenges you’ve overcome. Cherish the laughters and love experienced throughout the day. And have empathy for yourself if you’ve hit some bumps on the road. This is such a unique experience for your family to share. Have a healthy dose of fear but don’t let it take away from the opportunities to create some joyful memories as well.
I hope some of the ideas shared here will help your time at home more comfortable and enjoyable. Be well and stay safe.