Kids + Quarantine = Life Lessons
by Laura Armstrong
Like many of you, due to the Coronavirus, I have been forced to spend concentrated 1-on-1 time under the same roof as my family (my husband of 22 years and our three teenage kids) which has been quite the skill-building incubator.
Each one of my roommates has awakened me. My husband gently reminds me each day to maintain perspective and stay optimistic; he demonstrates both traits through his consistent, calm approach to each day. Watching my kids remain mindful as we navigate through this pandemic has left me awestruck.
As a family, we decided to have daily “check-in” meetings to connect, meditate and share our answers to three questions:
What went well yesterday?
What could have gone better?
What are you grateful for?
Our time together has brought so much to the forefront for me. This article is intended to encourage nonjudgmental, productive and supportive actions because those are the three key behaviors that my kids have shown me how to practice—every day.
1. Nonjudgmental Behavior: Having an opinion about the Coronavirus does not equate to being judgmental, yet I have seen unchecked assumptions promote miscommunication amidst this crisis. To ensure your opinions do not frame things in an overtly biased way or drive unnecessary reactions, you are invited to use the tool that our 18-year-old son is particularly good at applying; he prefaces his thoughts with, “This is my opinion…” or “These are my personal beliefs…” which usually helps diffuse defensiveness in others.
Next time you are party to a conversation that does not seem to be bringing people to a greater place of understanding, interject the above concept, it reminds people that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, beliefs, and choices. This strategy also serves as a verbal reminder that the person on the other side of the communication may not see things the same way.
2. Productive Behavior: In my opinion (see what I just did there?), people feel more productive when results are tangible, yet these days being productive isn’t only about “doing,” sometimes it is about “thinking” and “being.” Our 16-year-old daughter is the poster-child for this new-age concept of productivity; she schedules “think” and “be” time-frames to fill her tank and this process helps garner her exceptional academic and athletic results, as well as emotional stability that I wish I had when I was her age. This practice has been invaluable for her mental strength these past weeks.
Many professionals have expressed feeling less productive because their output has been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus, while others feel massive increases in productivity because their skill set is more in demand than it has ever been.
Regardless of where you think you live on the productivity-scale right now, challenge yourself to re-evaluate what your current output represents; short walks, phone calls to friends or time for reflection may take on new meaning for you. I know they have for me.
3. Supportive Behavior: “How can I help?” or “What do you need today?” are common requests that we have been fortunate enough to hear from our 14-year-old daughter throughout quarantine which has been incredibly comforting for us. Her actions help me realize that she is ‘tuned-in’ to the fact that this experience is affecting ALL of us and her caring manner inspires me to move forward with a giving-spirit. Additionally, her sense of appreciation for all that we are doing to help her these days has increased, she thanks us for little things that used to go unnoticed and it feels like her pronounced awareness has enlightened our entire family.
Supportive behavior will most likely have a positive impact on your work-life. When you carve out intentional time to assist (or thank) co-workers, direct-reports or managers, it can naturally incentivize them. The Coronavirus has affected everyone and it reminds us that it is OK to be vulnerable. People typically respond favorably to sincere and thoughtful assistance during their hour-of-need and we need one another right now.
My ongoing life goal has always been to sit in a place of objectivity in order to remain open to other viewpoints and maintain a healthy, growth mindset.
How do I accomplish this goal during the Coronavirus?
Practice nonjudgmental behavior because I feel it is the gateway to diplomatic freedom. Frame thoughts as my own and stay open-minded to other opinions.
Re-define my productive behavior and be patient. Seek balance—Do. Think. Be.
Demonstrate supportive behavior towards others and hope that the positive impact multiplies. Lend a hand, listen to understand and show gratitude.
Nonjudgmental, productive, supportive behaviors have become my armor, protecting me (and the people I love most) from adverse energy. I encourage you to practice the above behaviors as you navigate through this demanding time.
As a corporate trainer who teaches self-awareness, these past weeks have completely turned the tables for me —I have become the client and my husband and our teenage kids the consultants... Thank you, Jeff, Luke, Marlo & Ava—your quiet quarantine wisdom has truly illuminated this dim, uncertain time for me and I am better for it. Bless you.