Opinion

Plans Shift (Understatement of the year)

“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but that planning is indispensable.” ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

Now, more than ever, I am turning to planning-as-my-wellness practice. Every day brings new information: It’s Monday, and social distancing just turned into official stay-at-home orders here in Massachusetts. My wife is one of those people who literally cannot sit still, and I have a four-year-old. Serenity now!

#stayathome means some kind of game plan each day is mission critical for my family’s mental wellbeing. While I’m still working, as is my wife, we both have the privilege to work from home and have flexibility in our schedules.

Just two weeks ago, we coordinated schedules constantly. Meetings after work, trying to socialize in person, seeing family, getting to the store… it’s all evaporated. Here’s the framework of how we’re staying sane.

Work/child-care in shifts: We’ve agreed to 3 hour shifts, starting at 6 AM and ending at 6 PM. We each have 3 hours in the morning, 3 hours in the afternoon to focus on work. This allows both of us uninterrupted time to get things done without context-switching between blanket forts and our professional responsibilities. Yes, it means someone’s work shifts starts at 6 AM. It also means we’re together as a family at 6 PM, with both of us tying up loose ends into the evening if needed.

Here’s the kicker: Since the average worker is only productive around 3 hours of an 8-hour day, technically, I’m could be getting MORE done in this model than when I’m in the office.

Build routines, not schedules: It can be incredibly stressful when things don’t go according to plan, and right now? Nothing is going according to plan. To remove that feeling of constant failure at sticking to a tight schedule, we focused on a routine instead – flexible and predictable for all of us. In each of our 3-hour shifts, we’ve created routines that play to our strengths as parents. I’m in charge of quiet time, bath time, arts and crafts and stories. My wife is in charge of movement, getting to the zoom classroom and picking up toys.

Know thyself: My wife MUST get a work out in every day. My son needs to get outside for fresh air (we all do, really). And I need time to myself. So, we’ve agreed she would do whatever she needed to do to transform part of our basement into a “home gym”. I get introvert time to myself each day. We prioritize that one need for each other day and make sure it’s happening for each other. It’s honestly in our best interests.

Friends, play to your super powers, know your family and be gentle with yourselves.

Bread made during my first shift with the little one… no commute, more time in the morning!

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