WHEN YOUR OFFICE HOMES IN
Updated: Mar 22
Making things work for you when the only option is to work from home - adapting to strange times
Here in Norway, as in most of the world, everyone has been asked to work from home unless they have a socially critical job. All schools and kindergartens have been closed, and children have been asked to avoid socialising.
"After one day locked in with the kids and a husband, I felt I like a mad woman running around the house, constantly interrupted during my office meetings, and badgered when I was in the middle of some important work... I could already visualize my depressed self, emerging with a psychic disorder.
A week later things are different. And here´s my take on turning things around."
This breaks my heart. Norway has been a social heaven compared to the work-life struggles I juggled with back in Pakistan. My husband and I have full-time jobs, yet the support offered by the barnehages (kindergartens) and the schools with their after-school SFOs (Skolefritidsordning) has been valuable both for our mental well-being and for the development of our kids. This is one country that encourages kids and adults to seek answers in nature. To take the time and make an effort to explore nature and spend time in self-reflection. And here we are, within the confines of our three-bedroom apartment, watching the silent world from our kitchen window.
After one day locked in with the kids and a husband, I felt like a mad woman running around the house, constantly interrupted during my office meetings, and badgered when I was in the middle of some important work. Me, who likes to lock herself in one of the meeting rooms at work, now confined to our open family kitchen! Corona or no corona, I could already visualise my depressed self emerging with a psychic disorder.
A week later things are different. And here's my take on turning things around.
I'm dressing up in my coolest casual clothes every morning, lipgloss, rings, earrings, everything on me, to make me feel like I've entered my office. Really, I wasn't doing anything overboard for work during the "normal" days, but necessity calls! The Mac screen I brought from office (thank God for that) stands on one corner of the kitchen table and only from 08:30 - 17:00. It has suddenly become very important for everyone to keep their part of the home-office clean. Even the kids are reigning over their territories. We have one rule, everyone cleans their own mess since they have a lot of time now with no outdoor activities, music, handball, Taekwondo and what not.
What I have discovered is that everyone can and does their part. So I'm actually getting help around the house. My girls are sworn rivals yet with the restrictions they have learnt to play with each other. They have time to be bored, and thus more time to explore. The other day my 7-year-old made a bookshelf out of a carton sticking up wrapping paper pieces to decorate it.
The school iPad that their school started using as a teaching tool two years ago, and which I deplored, has suddenly become a blessing. They are lucky they have an opportunity to continue their schooling digitally, and when it’s a break in their school day we go out (avoiding other people) but spending some time in nature. I finally have to make time to play handball with my daughter on Monday evenings because her regular training is dropped. And it's actually fun.
And then I make a point of taking at least a 20 minutes stroll or jog once a day, listening to audiobooks or YouTube content, that can range from "how to get your book published” to “agent advise” to “how to get started with Google Cloud Platform” or anything uplifting to keep my spirits high. I only managed that once a week in pre-corona days, and usually on weekends only.
And then of course there is the honest reality. Kids shouting in the background just when you started a meeting. The lack of having the same influence on your kids as their class teacher. The nauseous feeling of uh, no not another cheese sandwich for lunch. The loneliness. The silence. And the lack thereof when most needed.
There will be ups and downs, disappointing headlines and uplifting news, some days will be bad and others will be good. Sometimes we'll need a friend around us and sometimes we'll want to tear down the walls. Let's just make the best of what there is for now. It could have been worse.