Does the COVID-19 quarantine have you going a bit insane? You're not alone. Seeing the reaction of people to suddenly being forced to stay at home all day, every day, has got me thinking about how hard the adjustment was for me... but not starting in March of 2020. No, my adjustment happened when I had my first baby and went from a working professional to a stay-at-home mom. I went from a life of fast food and shopping and socialization to one where I leave my home about once a week for Mass and maybe once a month for big errands. The novel life of most Americans right now sounds a lot like... well, my ordinary life. So, here are a few tips that helped me to adjust that will hopefully help you, too.
1. Get dressed and make up your bed each morning.
Seriously, the productivity of my day is largely determined by how soon after I wake up I put on real clothes and make my bed. It's not just for productivity, though. When I first transitioned to staying home all day, I was so excited that I didn't have to get up and get dressed first thing. But staying in pajamas or sweatpants most or all of the day quickly lead to me feeling down and depressed—not wanting to do anything and feeling upset that, well, I hadn't done anything! So, get up, put some clothes on that make you feel like a real person, make your bed so you don't get back in it, and start your day ready to roll.
2. Put more energy into having a clean, de-cluttered house.
One thing that surprised me about my transition from spending all day in an office to all day at home was how much messes started to bother me. Before, I really didn't mind a little clutter or dust buildup—I was only at home in the evenings and on the weekend. But once I stayed home full time, something that never bothered me before all of the sudden really bothered me! I was overwhelmed and stressed with how messy the house had gotten, and I realized I had to focus more energy than before on keeping things neat and clean. Part of enjoying being at home means being able to enjoy your new workspace—and that is hard to do if it's dirty, cluttered, and stresses you out. To see my personal housekeeping routine and how I built it, check out this post and start building you own. I only do about thirty minutes a day of cleaning—by shifting to a "maintenance model", my house stays clean, no elbow grease required!
3. Have (small) daily goals.
Doing tasks—be it work or housekeeping—based solely on the sudden realization that they need to be done is very stressful. It makes you feel constantly behind. Instead, have things you want to accomplish each day of the week, a little bit at a time, before things get out of hand and overwhelming. For example, don't wait to clean bathrooms until they are caked with grime and your mother-in-law announces she's coming in for a surprise visit. Make cleaning bathrooms something you do regularly, say, every other Tuesday—it won't take you more than thirty minutes, and you will always be prepared. This doesn't have to just apply to cleaning. If you're a college student, what are you going to do each day to stay on top of school work? If you're working from home, what are you going to accomplish each day to not fall behind? If you were working or were in school, and now suddenly have nothing to do, what do you need to do each day to keep your spirits up and still feel like you're accomplishing things? If nothing else, do it for your spiritual life—check out this sample daily prayer routine here. If you have no idea what your day should include spiritually, start here with the basics.
4. Get a rhythm going.
You probably had a rhythm in the office—get in, turn on your computer, get coffee, check email, visit with coworkers while getting your second cup of coffee, start making calls, etc. Well, a rhythm is just as important to establish at home. I have found it is not enough to just say you're going to get x, y, and z done today. You have to decide when you will do each thing. Now, notice I said rhythm and not schedule. This is a bit less intimidating for people. It's having a sequence of events instead of being controlled by a clock. So, it could be something like mine is now: wake up, morning prayers, eat, drink coffee and read the news, start laundry, unload the dishwasher, get the toddler up, etc. There is nothing stressful about it: I can have the slow mornings I like (in my current pregnant state I get very sick if I don't eat immediately, in case that part seemed odd to you!), but I always know in what order I'm going to do everything. If you want to start building your own routine, check out this post where I walk you through how to do it.
I'd love to hear from you—what are your tips to staying at home without losing your sanity? How did you handle the adjustment? What has been the hardest part? Let me know in the comments!