Loss of definition of roles, spaces, time and a look at where we go from here
Work Stress at Home
Our homes are no longer our sanctuaries. Previously a safe space for us, our children, our pets and our families, a haven from the outside world. Instead our hearth has been invaded by work, school, workout, clutter and therefore by stress. There is no division of spaces and therefore no separation of labor either. Spouses are working from home if they have the luxury to do that. Homes have been converted into office spaces, school cubicles, workout areas all merged into one. Parents, often mothers have been turned into teachers while trying to juggling their jobs. Cooking, cleaning, shopping and managing the household through the minefield of the pandemic and the disrupted supply chain landscape to be achieved in the midst of everything.
It is hard to stay focused on the task at hand, since no chore can remain compartmentalized. Ironically, 24 hours are not enough as everyone tries to juggle, fit all the pieces of the puzzle and accomplish everything. No wonder most folks report that they are feeling overwhelmed, under appreciated and stretched in multiple directions. It comes as no surprising that Work Stress has come into the home and pervaded every aspect of Life.
The glaring chasm
Coping with the current situation calls for the kind of multi-tasking that feels like we are running in the same place and never getting anywhere leading to exhaustion and burnout.
For those trapped in homes with limited resources in a challenging work-family environment it has led to conflicts and escalated abusive relationships.
There was a time not to long ago that working families left home for work, kissed their kids goodbye and dropped them off at daycare or school and ventured off. Sure the challenges of commute and traffic existed but the public and private worlds of work and home were clearly delineated.
If retired, there existed a routine too: activities of leisure and socialization, hobbies, trips and volunteering that could fill the days of the week. Children, teenagers and young adults all used to enjoy the freedom of their routine outside their homes but everything is now lost in the #Covid blur (link to an interesting article, worth checking out!)
Reconstructing the Boundaries
We are all weary of our current circumstances and worn down to our bones. Every day I find myself searching for positive reinforcement around me and through my interactions pull myself together to get through another day with some semblance of joy and positivity. My search has led me to create some habits that have turned out to be a life saver.
Take a second look at your household and reassign chores to align with the changed circumstances. Every member can take turns to help with tasks big and small. Children too should be roped in knowing that they are not too young to contribute.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is empowering oneself. Form peer support groups to network with. Most of us gravitate naturally towards socialization and it can rescue us during these distressing times. Social support can be tangible like taking turns to supervise children’s remote learning, or at a deeper level offering one another emotional and mental sustenance.
Rebuild boundaries by remembering to say No and prioritizing Self care. Carve out time for personal exercise, reading, mindfulness or meditation, whatever restores your equilibrium. Socializing safely with friends, or engage in hobbies that are relaxing and enjoyable. I am eager to hear how you are reclaiming your personal space, emotional energy and valuable time.
We are stronger together