A realization of the new normal- a transition to a work at home family
My husband and I take daily walks, our only time to just chat about life and planning for our future. It hit me that this living and working from home is our “new normal”. I’m not sure why I hadn’t given much time to REALLY think about it but it’s sinking in!
At the beginning of the pandemic it felt like a snow storm. You know, the kind where you are stuck in the house for a while and you cook, eat and watch movies. The shelves of the grocery store were always bare but this time, the snow storm lasted 3-4 months. Stores ran out of toilet paper, cleaning supplies, flour, sugar and yeast.
Fast forward to summer, we have been enjoying being outside and since we live in NJ we know we will be inside living and working from home soon enough. It is hitting me, we need a plan! We went to the gazebo by our pool, which we now lovingly have deemed our “restaurant” when we want a change of scenery and we discussed our plan!
The house has traditionally been my domain. I’ve worked at home for 20 years and it’s been great! I’m disciplined, organized and I’m used to having my space and time to do what I need and want to do all day. I stay busy all day long toggling between work and home duties and I like it.
We are empty nesters but we currently have 4 adults living and working from home. Quarantine was a slight adjustment to those plans. I’m not complaining at all! I love having family with me and I love having built-in social! Especially during the height of the pandemic it was great to have family in the house for company and conversation!
I can’t imagine being alone or even being alone with your spouse for that long without social interaction with friends. I’m a social person and I get my energy from others. This isolation stuff stinks! I don’t like it.
So, back to the house being “my office”. I love my family and we all get along super well but sometimes I need my space! Everyone is in “my office”, which has typically been the whole house, all day long. My sweet husband is now asking me about dinner every day and none of us have privacy.
Dinner is almost the only thing that varies every day so I guess it’s fun to talk about, but Cooking has always been my thing, I’m efficient at it. I know what ingredients we have and many times I make a decision at 5pm as to what I feel like making. Now I have to think about it all day long and discuss it. My husband is just trying to be helpful and I am so very appreciative but I don’t like to discuss it all day long. I’ve talked with him and coached him to ask “How can I help you with dinner?” as opposed to “What should we do for dinner?”
It’s a slight word change that helps me feel like I’m being supported on the plans I have made for dinner.
Work Space Allocation
Since everyone is working from home, I’ve decided that we need to set some ground rules for Fall. I believe we will all be more productive and focused if we do.
Everyone needs an office/ work space. My husband and I have separate offices in the house but many days he would “work” in the family room off my office so we could be close by. Oddly, I felt stifled like I just needed my space like I had for the past 20 years. It may sound strange but I would rather have him in his office and call or text me if he needs something than to randomly chat all day.
I’ve decided that the kitchen needs to be the “break room” and no one should work in it. It needs to be social just like a break room should be. Meals and conversations shared. NO actual work!
The dining room should be either the “board room”, “cubicle space” even “school” if needed. Many people collaborating or working side by side on productive work that doesn’t involve meetings or zooms.
If you have the space, add a small desk or workspace to bedrooms so that people can work independently and privately. Conference calls, classes or networking zooms shouldn’t disturb others.
Communication is key
The bottom line is to communicate. Gather the family and discuss what is working and not working so we can come out of this quarantine on the better end of this! We need to communicate so that living and working from home will be seamless.
Plan out shopping, cooking and cleaning so that everyone has a role. I expect once the weather gets cold, we won’t be inside restaurants so there’s going to be a lot of home cooking again!
Time management, organization and setting some ground rules for space and chores in the house will allow us all to cope with this new-normal a little better! I hope this gives you some ideas on how to deal with this work from home family life that we are all getting used to. I’m not an expert but I’m good at communicating what I need and I hope you do the same!