After months of basically quarantining as a family with little ones and elderly parents, you can generally add FH to anything for us- work from home, school from home, workout from home, therapy from home, you name it.  And we know that we are not alone with so many in the same plight- extremely lucky to have our health and thankfully our jobs, but also extremely ready to relax from home. RFH seems like the light at a distant, curvy tunnel.  Homes used to be reserved for sacred family time; a portal where you could leave work at the door, and feel rewarded for the day’s accomplishments, with the change of scenery releasing the dopamine reaction needed to exhale, relax, and be grateful.

For working parents, there are many myths associated with working from home.  In parenting groups and forums, working from home is made out to be the holy grail of work-life-balance, but now that more families have had the opportunity to experience this, let’s talk about how the images compare to the reality:

Image: Working from home will allow for more time with children, helping them learn and grow.
Reality: Trying to find ways to creatively ignore your children 8 hours a day, explaining why at the current moment your have to prioritize staring at a computer over their latest accomplishment, does not feel so great.

Image: Without that commute, I will gain so many hours in my day.
Reality: Being in constant demand from seemingly attention-starved children, means working around to the clock to get work done, capitalizing on every 20 minutes of silent glory from sunrise to midnight.

Image: Putting tasty, home-cooked meals on the table for my spouse every night.
Reality: Not only is dinner not done half the time, but surprise honey! The house is a mess and the kids are sugared up because they raided the snack drawer while I was on a marathon of zoom calls. Say anything about any of these 3 failures and You. Are. Dead.

Image: I am going to be so fit working from home with all this extra time.
Reality: No buttons=no discipline.

Without the circumstances associated with Covid and the restrictions of daycare and school, working from home may indeed be the promised land. And it is true that my gardens are more beautiful than ever this year, as they have clearly improved from dry and dead per usual to a lovely shade of barely alive. I also get to burn a meal for my husband a couple of times a week and the laundry is done. Between 9 and 5, however, there’s a stress like no other unless I take purposeful breaks to be mindful. As a Certified Mindfulness Coach, here is one of my favorite exercises that can be done nearly anytime, anywhere, and most importantly, it’s easy to remember. It’s simply called 5,4,3,2,1:

  • Commit to dedicating a moment to your own mindfulness and remind yourself that self-care is the best way to care for your family and protect your wellbeing.
  • One at a time, observe s objects in your view. Take in every detail, noticing how beauty can come in so many forms.
  • Next, observe 4 things you can touch. Appreciate that you can feel the sensation of the varying textures.
  • Now, observe 3 things you can hear. Recognize that you are blessed to have the ability to take a moment to be still amidst the movement of your environment.
  • Then, observe 2 things that you are able to smell. Take some slow, deep breaths in through your nose, out through your mouth.
  • Finally, observe one thing you can taste. Finish the exercise by giving yourself praise for making the effort to be present, thoughtful, and grateful.

When using this exercise to relax, try doing with your eyes closed, and visualizing the things you would like to sense, for example, as if you were designing your perfect day, or even your perfect getaway. Visualization is a very powerful tool in your mental wellbeing toolbox.

Earlier I mentioned that we are all healthy. This is not something to be glossed over, but this does not seem to be the currency of positive attention in a society where exhaustion is seemingly a status symbol equating with hard work.  We hope that if you are working from home, you know how much you are appreciated by your families, clients, and coworkers.  We hope you are able to cherish the moments amidst the chaos when your life makes you smile or the sun hits your view in just the right way. We hope you know that this too shall pass, and although many home situations are drowning in uncertainty, we are also learning more everyday about each other and ourselves.  Necessity is the mother of invention, and I for one am looking forward to seeing all of the innovation that will come from this unprecedented experience.