Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Quarantine and Chill? Making the Most of Confinement

For those of us who have experienced what it's like to work from home, staying home to avoid increasing the spread of COVID-19 is not a new idea. I worked exclusively out of a home office for almost an entire decade, and the way of life that surrounds that sort of career is definitely unique in comparison to the rest of the world. Granted, I did have different jobs here and there (from journalism to teaching), but my HQ was always in a home office, and I spent much of my time squirreled away there. 

I understand that for many of you, being tucked away in a quarantine is not only strange, but somewhat upsetting. Don't worry! I understand. My routine has been disrupted as well. My daughter and I are used to leaving the house daily and exploring playgrounds and parks, an activity that has been put on pause thanks to this fun little pandemic situation. I'm also used to attending my on-campus college classes lately, and to suddenly be thrust into a structure-less schedule is more than a little annoying. 

Thankfully, I have old habits to lean on. I know how to make the best out of being cooped up in an office or a small space, and today, I'd love to share some of those ideas with you - and they are especially useful if you are now sharing a house full of children who are home from school! 

First, establish a routine. Anyone who has run a business out of their home will agree that having a routine is a great way of staying sane. For me, all those years of writing books required a routine. I would write for the first 4 hours of the day, break for lunch, move to office work (paperwork, PR, management correspondence, etc). After I was done, I would complete any other tasks that were pressing, and I would either finish the day with a workout or a visit with a friend. Dinner was the most relaxing and fun part of my day. It signaled the end of work and the beginning of a period of time where I could relax, watch a TV show, or take a hot bath. While this is a simplified example of what my day might have been like, you can see that if you have a routine, time passes quicker. Time, instead of becoming a drag, becomes an express train to productivity. I highly recommend establishing a routine while you're stuck at home. Get up at the same time every day (if possible), make breakfast, workout, do homework with your kids, make lunch, do arts and crafts, clean the bathrooms! There is a lot to do. The point is, routine is the key to maintaining control and sanity (trust me, I know). 

For those of you who are parents, you can do this! I understand that a lot of people are overwhelmed with suddenly having to school their children at home since COVID-19 has essentially temporarily shut down our educational system (at least in CA). You can do this! I encourage parents who are having a hard time teaching their kids to reach out to friends or family who are educators and ask for their help if you're having issues. Trust me, teachers are there to help! Getting your kids' homework done is also contingent upon a solid routine, as I discussed above. This won't last forever, so just remember to do your best. Do yourself and your kids a favor and don't stress. Homework is important, but it's even more important to keep your family healthy and relaxed while you're at home! Prioritize as needed. 

Something that I've been doing myself while we're at home is having one thing to look forward to at the end of the day. The days can be long sometimes, even within your routine. I have been making it a point to have something to look forward to every day. For example, whether it's watching a show together on Disney+ or baking a fun dessert, that is my reward for surviving the day. Maybe it's a hot bath for you. Maybe it's being able to read a few chapters of that book you've been wanting to escape into. Find what motivates you and use it to put a little sunshine in your day. 

Work on those projects! Why not? I'm using this time at home to further prepare for our big move (our new house is almost ready to move into)! I'm organizing cabinets and closets, catching up on laundry, and washing dishes. I'm a HUGE fan of the Marie Kondo method, so you can bet that there is going to be a lot of organization happening in my household for the next month or two. In fact, I just cleaned and reorganized my pantry this morning! I'm working on just one area of the house every day so that I won't get overwhelmed. Today it was the pantry. Tomorrow it's the medicine cabinet. After that, I'm reorganizing my closet and my daughter's closet. I have a list of goals that I would like to accomplish during this time. I find it very helpful to write it down! 

Conquer cooking! Maybe this sounds weird to you (or most likely, you totally relate), but I'd like to use this time to work on my cooking skills. Usually, life is so busy schedules are so crammed that I hardly have time to cook during the week, and I usually end up making casseroles or simple stir-fry dishes. I'd like to focus on cooking at least 1-2 new things per week, whether it's grilling meat on the stove or baking a new type of cookie. Use your rations and supplies wisely, of course. There's no reason you can't put a new twist on a dish, though! 

Don't let exercise fall by the wayside. This is a big deal for me, because I have worked extremely hard to get back in shape after having a baby in early 2019. Forcing myself to work out several days a week was one of the most challenging things I have ever done (because I honestly had a long, not-so-fun recovery after my child was born), but also the most rewarding. Being stuck at home will not defeat my workout schedule! I have decided to work out in the evenings (rather than the mornings, like I was doing during the school semester). My workouts are simple - usually 30 minute to 1 hour in length. I can do them in the living room, and there are days when I'm holding my daughter while I'm doing squats (hey, it's like weight training!). No matter how I get it done, it's important to me to maintain my physical health, and I heavily encourage you to engage in some kind of workout routine while you are at home, as well. You will not only feel better physically, but you'll feel better mentally, too! 

Let's be real. We can all take advantage of streaming services right now. I was never a big television person until my daughter was born. Suddenly I was stuck on the couch for hours at a time, attempting to nurse a newborn. I started getting engaged in more TV shows and movies on Netflix, and now thanks to Disney+, I've found so many fun shows and films that I love (I especially love a good classic movie, too). There's no shame in having fun and catching up on that new show you've been wanting to watch. A few shows I've been getting into lately? Locke & Keye, I Am Not Okay With This, Love is Blind, The Imagineering Story (on Disney+), Grey's Anatomy, Criminal Minds, Zumbo's Just Desserts, and because of my daughter, virtually every single princess movie ever (we are partial to Moana, Frozen, and Beauty and the Beast). I also am watching the Alien movies for the first time, and my husband and I just started watching Game of Thrones for the first time. We're definitely a little behind the trend, but at least we don't have to wait for all the seasons to be released now! 

For the writer, this is a good time to work on your manuscript. I am still busy. I'm taking 5 college classes this semester, and they are all being moved to an online format. I'll have plenty of homework to keep me busy, as well as attempting to entertain a 1-year-old who no longer can play at the public playground. All of that aside, I'm using the hours that I would normally spend on campus to finish my postponed manuscript, Child of Darkness. I would love to have a finished novel for you all to read during this COVID-19 crisis. I'm giving it my best shot!  

Don't let this crisis get you down. Remember that most of the drama surrounding COVID-19 (at least in the states) is due to the absolute atmosphere of hysteria and panic that people create by rushing stores and hoarding supplies. Just be smart, kind, and put your family first. Trust that God has this under control (because He 100% does). There is nothing on this Earth that happens that does not have His hand in it. I trust Him, and so should you! 


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Get fictional - it's fun! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you again soon!