Covid-19 has affected families in different ways. If we are lucky, we have been able to enjoy staying at home, reconnecting with family and indulging in some serious down time, safe in the knowledge we have still been receiving the majority of our pay. If we are unlucky, we have been anxious, struggling financially and emotionally, or worse we have lost a loved one.
However, amongst the gloomy predictions of Great Depression-like economic slumps there is hope and opportunity. Opportunity for us, individually and as a society to change and create a better tomorrow and greater balance.
In fact, a recent YouGov survey showed that only 8% of Britons want life to return to ‘normal’ after the virus outbreak is over. 42% of participants said they value food and other essentials more since the pandemic, with 38% cooking from scratch more. 61% of people are spending less money. Two-fifths said there is a stronger sense of community in their area since the outbreak began and 39% say they are catching up with friends and family more. We are being reminded of what is truly important and meaningful in our lives. The only question is whether we will head those lessons and insights and use them to create something better or whether we will all go back to the way it was.
There is talk of a ‘new normal’ which implies that we are going to have to make some compromises in the new reality we find ourselves in. But what if, the compromise was the way we used to live. Compromising our time with those we love to make money to buy stuff we didn’t really need in the first place. Compromising time with friends and family for work commitments and never-ending deadlines. Compromising our health because we didn’t believe we had the time or inclination to cook from scratch or take care of our fitness. And yet these are the little things that have kept us sane for the last few months. The shared family meals, life lived at a slower and often, more enjoyable pace. A bit less anxiety, a bit more love.
Let’s forget about normal or new normal and instead focus on ‘New Balance’. Here are five practical ideas to help make this ‘new balance’ a reality in your family life. Please feel free to share these tips with those around you and help them find the space they need to make them into regular habits:
- Take time out, every day to get outside, ideally in nature or a local park. Walk, pay attention to what’s going on around you. Don’tcut yourself off by listening to music, audio books or podcasts. Instead, pay attention to what’s around you, notice the trees, listen to the bird song, witness the change of the seasons. Take this time, even if it’s just a few minutes, to just ‘be’. Listen. Think. Spend time in silence.
- Master your mornings: Start your day from a place of positivity. Prepare the night before so that mornings can include a shared breakfast. Everyone in the family says what they want to achieve that day and takes a minute or two to share what you are already grateful for in your lives. Use that positive start to get into a positive mindset.
- Take ten or twenty minutes out of each day to read an inspirational book. For example, any of the three Meee in a Minute books (life, family and work). Each one has 60 one-minute nuggets of wisdom including life hacks, advice, insights, science, short exercises, and thought experiments to ensure you start the day with positivity and confidence. Another great book is A. C. Grayling’s ‘The Meaning of Things’ which had a profound impact on my life. There are dozens of great books so pick those that resonate with you. Many are also available as audio books.
- Eradicate unnecessary activity. Ask yourself does this activity add value and make you feel better or does it detract from your life. Lockdown has taught us what is really important and spending money and endless shopping doesn’t appear to have made the cut. Take some time to consider what’s really important in your life. If something doesn’t add value, eliminate it or seek to cut down that activity in your life. Focus on what matters professionally and personally. Focus on what makes you and your family happy. And make these things the priority.
- Connect with people you care about – friends and family. At work seek to find ways to maintain some of the flexibility that became essential during Covid-19. Honour both the human being and the employee. Find ways to maintain a connection and to find a balance that works for all the important parts of your life. At home, talk to each other, eat together as a family and maintain the strengthened bonds facilitated by the pandemic.
Today we have an opportunity to create something better for our families and also for our communities. This could be our silver lining where we truly appreciate that what matters doesn’t have to cost money. It isn’t the nice overseas holidays, the expensive car or the bigger home. What matters are the micro moments of love, trust, gratitude for the simple things.
About the Author
Sid Madge is founder of Meee (My Education Employment Enterprise) which draws on the best creativity and thinking from the worlds of branding, psychology, neuroscience, education and sociology, to help people achieve extraordinary lives. To date, Meee has transformed the lives of over 20,000 people, from leaders of PLC’s and SME’s to parents, teachers, students, carers, the unemployed and prison inmates. Sid Madge is also author of the ‘Meee in Minute’ series of books which each offer 60 ways to change your life, work- or family-life in 60 seconds.
This is a guest post written by Sid Madge. Images of Sid Madge are credited to Tony Blake Photography respectively and must not be used without permission.