Designing our relationships for happiness, trust, and peace
For the new world- how to be more present to those we live with and those we don't.
A lot has changed since the coronavirus pandemic decided to give our ‘normal’ an unsolicited makeover. On the professional front, we see our work pressing us harder than ever before - the home from Work from Home has gone amiss, quite honestly.
We’ve been struggling to find a time that work (or work stress - those nerve-wracking deadlines, we know) doesn’t claim.
Our pre-pandemic lives were different. Scheduled working hours, however taxing, allowed us to switch off as we left work and entered home. Even after the 9-5 (that extended to ‘8ish’), we knew we could close the professional doors. Home then became a space where slow-paced comfort and calmness (however transient) was waiting for us. We finally got to be with people that matter the most, and there was peace in knowing that we would find them at the end of an overwhelmingly eventful Wednesday.
Homes have forever been the space to nurture close and distant relationships. But as homes now come between work and relationships, how do you design your relationships to adapt to the new normal?
Read along as we attempt to figure that out in this seven-step manual to designing your relationships for the new world.
Redesign your physical spaces
Making space for relationships at home starts with redesigning your physical space. In other words, getting up from our desks and beds every few hours (set the alarm, we do too) to check in on our family members, remembering to have a meal together minus distractions, are all ways to acknowledge that we are, indeed, at home. Consider what happens in the ‘waiting place’ This year, we recorded a podcast episode on graduation traditions, Dr Seuss, and his famous book Oh The Places You’ll Go!
In it, we discussed what it means to be at the ‘waiting place’, that limbo-like state when we wait for a call to come through, or we switch from work mode to house mode. Most of us use our smartphones or TVs as a form of passive distraction during this time. Would it be better, instead, to spend this time nurturing our relationship with ourselves? Even if it is through the medium of television, it helps to pay attention to what’s going on in our minds when we’re waiting for something else to happen.
Embrace the changing priorities
With such a massive shift in our work landscape, priorities are bound to change. The spouse who wound up working at seven likely needs to take calls until midnight, and that meal together may become a discussion about work more often than not. Your best shot lies in embracing these changing priorities. As schooling shifts to homes, your child may need you more often, or family meal preparation may demand attention in the middle of a workday. Know that it’s normal and okay. You don’t have to lock your personal priorities away to be present at work. Maintaining flexibility in deadlines, repeated re-evaluation of prioritised tasks at work, and committing to realistic standards will help here.
Maintain clear communication at work
Each one of us is navigating the same storm but on different boats. Our circumstances are unique, and that needs to be put forth. Clear communication with bosses and teammates will help you manage the change better. For example, if you’re struggling between a deadline and your child’s school activity, you need to communicate that instead of beating yourself and feeling guilty for not giving your best to both.
Try to connect with people you haven’t met in a while
The pandemic has given rise to several inconsistencies in previously perfect relationships. We may grudge the friend who willingly chose to put themselves at risk, or we may be unhappy with someone who didn’t reach out to us during this time. However, everything begins with a small step, and we need human connection now more than ever before. So consider calling up that friend on their birthday and having a casual chat or meet someone virtually for coffee. Who knows, it might just be the re-start of a beautiful friendship for life.
Do what you can, without sacrificing your sanity
Maybe you’re used to binging Netflix after dinner or not leaving your home after a taxing Tuesday, or taking the kids out only on Sunday. With WFH, you need to rethink and evolve these habits in ways that feel natural to you. Perhaps, Thursday nights can be for family meal prep, or Sundays can be a visit to the park instead. Such activities will also recharge your batteries while allowing you to spend time with the people you love without it feeling like a sacrifice.
Make the most of weekends
Weekends are goldmines, trust us. Use them generously. Maintain clear boundaries and switch off completely from work during weekends. This is your time to do what you like most. Play a sport, listen to music, work on your passion project- just do what makes you happy. There’s that saying- you cannot pour from an empty cup- so use this time to fill up that cup and nurture your own well-being. This, in turn, is the start of some wonderful, peaceful relationships with those around you.
To flow with ease in a stage four rapid is not always easy to contend with. As you learn to do that, be patient with yourself, appreciate the little wins, acknowledge the efforts of loved ones, and nurture that connection.