Just today I shared a small thread on twitter outlining my four months of #Quarantine. I did focus more on the professional aspects with a little touch of the personal towards the end. But, of course, there is so much more that we have all been through all this time. But, one thing that I thought long and hard that I really miss doing is writing on this blog. When I started in 2008, I was writing daily, almost like a diary.
Recently I went back and archived all those posts and had some amusing moments reading the posts and comments. I realised how much joy this regular writing brought me. How it helped me connect to so many people from around the world. I got a huge readership and built a career in writing. My blog also made me a lot of money. I have seen how the blogging scene came up in India, the ups and downs and how it has transformed.
So anyway, I missed writing regularly here. And then I thought why not begin today? So here I am. And I thought of writing snippets from my lockdown diaries – the trials and tribulations, the challenges and achievements.
Today, I wish to focus on spending time with the family. Do you remember a time when we longed for the weekend or our sweet vacations? One of the reasons was that it gave us an opportunity to be together as a family, to create memories, to spend time with each other.
Bam, the lockdown happened! It has been going on for about 4 months now. Though the unlocks and lockdowns have gone on in loops, the way we went out, socialised and interacted has changed completely. Now, we are all exclusively stuck with families. This is not as easy as it may seem.
One of the foundations of a good relationship is the longing you feel for those you live with. But this happens on a daily basis when we experience space from them. So, the kids go to school; the husband went to work; and I spent my day in peace working from home. By evening, I waited for them to come home so we could share how our days went. I had enough space during the day to do my own things and vice versa.
Now the lockdown pushed every one to be at home all the time. There is no personal space any more. Yes, I have a relatively big house and we can create some physical space. But our entire routine has been turned upside down. Every one is adjusting. We all are also contending with more of household chores. Apart from cooking, I don’t really relish cleaning or anything else. But with no household help, we pitched in and have now sort of found a rhythm around doing the chores.
We were also having more arguments and snapping at each other as we adjusted to the new normal. The kids had their summer vacation locked up at home. They can’t go out and play. They can’t travel as two trips were called off. The elder son turned 18. Milestones came and went. We tried to do our best to celebrate in other ways, but there was a tiny bit of remorse at what we missed.
We went through cycles of being sick of each other to being grateful for having each other because loneliness is far worse in these uncertain times. Luckily, we did not hate each other before the lockdown so life has not been very tough with family members. I know of couples who did not get along or kids who preferred staying outdoors all the time, and they are struggling.
We have heard of domestic violence and even divorces being on the rise. It is because, spending too much time together only works in romantic movies. 🙂 We all need to do our own things, to not have people on our heads all the time, and it is tough to adjust to not being able to meet with friends and close relatives. Yes, we still do video calls and telephonic calls. We try to make the best of what we have.
Here is what has worked for me to maintain peace and harmony at home:
1. Family weekend movie nights are back. While all of us do so much of watching content online, most times we do it individually. Now, each one chooses a movie and all of us watch it together. Last weekend, it was the kids’ turn and we watched Rush and To Kill a Mockingbird, both really enjoyable.
2. We have established a routine now. The chores are divided among us and each of us does it on a daily basis. If once in a while someone needs a break, the others chip in to help out. This is so that we can all begin our work in a timely manner and wind up in the evening trying to stay close to our regular routine before lockdown.
3. We work in different rooms and spaces. Luckily, we have the spaces and laptops to manage that. So the younger son has his online classes, the older boy does his courses, the husband and I have our work. We stay out of each other’s hair except for meal times, evening chai and breaks.
4. Help in cooking: I have always cooked for the family myself. Luckily, that is holding me in good stead now. But, I do feel overwhelmed with the volume of work there is. Plus, I had help in chopping and prepping veggies. Now, I have started doing more prep over the weekend. I also enlist the help of my kids in peeling, cleaning veggies.
My older boy makes rotis every alternate day and that helps a lot. I meal plan and try to cook larger quantities that can last for 2 meals. I ask the husband to cook a full meal on Sunday so that I get a break. He also makes breakfast most days.
5. Seek help: This is perhaps the biggest lesson for me. There are days I feel overwhelmed or fatigued, emotionally and physically, I reach out to people close to me. My older son is a huge pillar of strength with his empathy, so are my dad and sister. I even reach out to online therapy. It is immensely helpful. Recognise if you are struggling and there is no shame is getting help.
6. Be easier on you: You don’t have to do everything. You don’t have to be superman or woman. What you can manage is what you should do. Speak to your family and let them know. Don’t burn yourself out cleaning or cooking like a maniac.
7. Find out what destresses you: For me Yoga has been a revelation. It helps me physically but more important mentally. I have been pretty regular with Yoga. But there were weeks when I was too tired or did not want to workout. And that’s okay too. Music and singing aloud helps and of course, being with Coco.
It is good to go a bit easy on your goals. We may make jokes about them, but really avoid falling into the competition hole. I have friends reach out who feel guilty about not working out or not able to cook enough or healthy. I try to give them simple tips so that they can stay active and slowly climb back the bandwagon of working out or how they can manage simple meals with lesser work.
Most importantly don’t feel guilty. It is hard on all of us. We have not lived like this before. We are social beings. Even introverts like me long to go out, to meet and hug my friends and close family. This too shall pass. We have to hang on to it. Help each other out in the family. And it’s okay to sometimes hate them. 😉
I would love to hear your experiences with your family during this lockdown.