First things first, it sounds crazy to be talking about good things about Corona Virus. You are right. This Corona Virus sucks, it’s horrible for anyone who gets it. Scary for anyone who is on the vulnerable list and a royal PITA for businesses, travellers, parents and anyone in between.
Although most of our kids (so we have been told) have nothing much to worry about, they can unwittingly carry it and share it. And it is the vulnerable that we, as a community, need to think about.
*POST EDIT* Since writing this post the WHO has declared the situation a pandemic.
How can all this be a good thing?
Full disclosure, I am one of those annoying people that look for the positive in a situation. All the silver linings, it’s my coping mechanism. So yes, I’m sure many people will be able to come up with a long list of “yeah buts…” to these positives, if that is their way of handling it, fine.
I’ll stick with my happy unicorns and fairy dust thankyouverymuch.
1. A Forced Slow Down
We live in a word where it is all go, go, go. Hustle, hustle, hustle and even when we get downtime it’s usually packed between other activities. With so many places closed, club and extra-curricular activities cancelled it is giving us breathing space. To slow down and catch our breath. No more rushing from one thing to another.
2. Family Connection Time
Here in Japan most of the schools have closed down early, the end of the school year happens late March. The last week of February the government advised schools to close early and the majority did.
This caused no end of panic, what are working parents supposed to do with their kids? Some after school clubs have stayed open, some schools are offering to have the kids but generally, it’s a matter of ‘you are on your own with that!’
This means that for a lot of parents (let’s face it, usually mom) is having to take unscheduled time off.
But this means spending more quality time with the kids.
One of the biggest problems today with the family unit is down to disconnect. It’s usually because the family doesn’t get to spend enough good quality time together. Thank you Corona Virus for helping us fix that.
3. Mindset Around Schooling
I’m a homeschooler and have very strong opinions about the antiquated Victorian, teacher-led schooling system – a rant for another day!
One of the problems is that it is a system that we all know, hell, most of us were raised in it. But it was designed to prepare kids for the workhouse (or these days the company).
It’s teacher-led and leaves little space for diving into topics outside of the curriculum. The teacher stands up front, kids listen and do as they are told.
BUT… with all this time off, I am seeing parents posting about their homeschool adventures. (and as a homeschooler this makes me very happy!)
Exploring new topics by watching documentaries, reading books, doing child-led experiments and taking online classes – welcome to my world!
If you are not convinced about this new-fangled way of learning, check out Sugata Mitra’s Hole In The Wall project.
It fascinated me and led me to do some similar experiments with Ebi-kun. We still use the Montessori “Follow The Child” method that is in line with Mitra’s ideas. Let the child follow their passions and they will have deeper learning and understanding about the topic.
If you need ideas for activities for the kids to do, I have plenty here. A lot are Montessori inspired and can be adapted to follow the child.
4. Breaking Routines
As a productivity coach, I know routines are a double-edged sword. Having a solid routine in place does help you get shit done, you know what you have to do and just get on with it, without using up brainpower.
The downside is that we get stuck in the groove and the routine gets so embedded in our ways that we stop thinking. This is when things go awry.
Having our routines disrupted by having to take time off work/school is a great opportunity to be more mindful and see where we are stuck in a rut. A great excuse to shake things up and try something new.
5. Being More Productive
Say what? The kids are under-foot, your regular routine is all out of sync, how the heck does that make you more productive?
I’ll let you in on a little secret here… so you know, I work with moms who are building their business around their kids, that is what the Wonder Mom Success Club is all about. And because of that, I get a great insight into the daily life of small business owners who are also moms.
And I can tell you that there is no-one more productive than a mom of a toddler running her own show. If big company CEO’s were savvy to this, they wouldn’t employ anyone else!
The thing is, when you have a little one at home that is demanding your attention 24/7 and you are running your own business, you have very little focused time and so you know that when you do get 5 minutes you will bang that important task out of the park.
Because you have so little quality time, you get really savvy on what is important and make sure that is at the top of the list.
This is a great way to help you figure out what is “the important work” and what is “the busywork”. Just focus on the important stuff!
Yes, thank you! Another of the good things about Corona Virus, helping moms get their productivity vibe on!
6. Ditching the 9-5 Mindset
Starting with school we spend a set amount of time there and that is the way we think it has to be done, prepares us for the workforce and having to work 9-5 (or more like 8-6 these days).
But this is what I discovered when I started working from home, I didn’t need to be sat there working for 8 hours. In fact, I very rarely do 8 hours a day. And the same goes for school work. There is a lot of faffing around at school, when it comes down to studying, my son get through the work in about 3 hours a day.
Breaking that mindset of *having* to work 8 hours is a big one and something that many of my clients struggle with when they first move from the corporate world to working for themselves.
You can read more about how we work and homeschool at the same time here.
So whilst you are taking a break from the usual 9-5 or if you are working from home rather than at work, pay attention to how long you actually spend on your work.
This also goes for work times, the government here has asked companies to be more flexible with work start and end times to cut down on the congested commuter trains (if you have ever experienced a Tokyo train at rush hour, you know what I mean).
I see this as a good thing, maybe companies will come to realise that they don’t have to have these set in stone times and that flexible timing makes for happier commuters… and so happier workers.
7. Going Old Skool
We have all heard the perils of too much screen time and so I’m sure a lot of parents are on that as their kids have an extended holiday, (I’m sure the kids have this as one of the good things about Corona Virus!)
We have recently made an intentional effort to cut down our family screen time and what we have found is that we are playing more board games and reading more books.
Which leads to more discussions, research and learning.
All in all spending less time on the screen and more time with each other has been a lot more fun.
8. Letting Kids Get Bored
Usually, when the kids are off school we fill the days with trips to the library, museums, theme parks and movie theatres. With the majority of them shutdown, we need to think of other things to do.
Getting out into the fresh air if possible to run off some energy but what else?
When I was a kid, if we ever muttered the words “I’m bored” loud enough for my mom to hear she would whip out the cleaning supplies and set us to it. For someone like me, who hates cleaning, getting bored wasn’t an option.
But getting bored is good for us, it allows us to get imaginative, to foster creativity and teaches you how to put all that to good use, whether it be writing a book, designing the latest F1 drivers uniform or building a fort out of toilet rolls (someone, somewhere must have enough hoarded to do that since the shelves are empty!)
Sometimes kids do need an idea to get them going, which is why we put together Boredom Busters. They are quick videos with open-ended activity ideas to get the kid’s cogs turning. What they do with the ideas, is up to them!
The great thing is, with these type of activities, kids can do them alone, as a team or work side by side, doing their own thing but with friends or siblings creating their own thing too.
Since you are stuck at home, it’s a great opportunity to dig into some of those jobs that you have been putting off!
Decluttering seems to be one of those things!
Top Tips (I run a decluttering program Clear The Clutter) so I know these work…
- Don’t try and do too much at once. Pick just a shelf or one drawer, keep it minimal and you’ll get results much quicker.
- It always looks worse before it looks better. Before and after shots are great so you can see the progress you have made. But I highly recommend ‘in the midst of the chaos’ shots too!
- If the Marie Kondo “Spark Joy” idea doesn’t work for you, and let’s face it, electric gadget cables rarely spark joy in anyone! Try asking “Do I really need it?” instead.
And – get the kids involved too, get them decluttering their toy cupboard and clothes closet. It is a great life skill that doesn’t get taught usually!
10. The Joy Of An Empty Schedule
The reality is, that for us, nothing much has changed. We work and study at home, it means we will have to postpone a couple of museum trips. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a problem.
And some people have said to me that we are lucky. But to be honest, luck has nothing to do with it. As a family, we designed our life this way.
But of course, we still have scheduled things on too. My husband and son do aikido at the weekends, and that has been cancelled for a month…
That means we have just regained our weekends!
So many of us complain of not having enough time and now we have all this time handed to us on a plate. What are you going to do with yours?