My New Normal
By Chris Thomson
Aged 41 and a bit.......
So when we started working from home quite early on (and when I was not furloughed) I kicked off straight away committing to 2-6 hours of working from home a day, great I thought, here we go - I am all over this.
The Bigger Picture
The bigger picture was that my wife was later furloughed and working in retail she cannot work from home, we have two children 10 and 5, a cat and a dog and I was very quick very early on to throw up a daily structure for the household onto the kitchen wall, different colours for different activities the works, and boy was I pleased that everyone would be joining in with me and Joe Wicks for PE everyday at 9am! (The family managed to keep up with me for one session FYI, although my wife continued to sit and watch Joe while I exercised.......).
I was however, quicker still to tear that schedule down and throw it in the bin. There are several reasons for this and some of you will have experienced some of these reasons as well i'm sure.
The New Normal - Draft 1
Firstly, lets get this absolutely straight. Teachers are amazing - fact. I am not a teacher - also obviously a fact. I have however read Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’ and the practical application of this book was necessary (and not in any way extreme) from early on in lockdown. Divide and conquer, attack is the best form of defence, take the higher ground, don’t fight a losing battle etc etc. All joking aside what I learned very quickly is that children do not need 6 hours a day of teaching (unless you have class sizes of 20/30/40+++). If you are able (and thankfully we are) to sit down for a minimum of 45 minutes a day, five days a week with a pre prepared structure of the already excellently prepared weekly schoolwork with one child (prepared by amazing teachers who phone us every week to make sure the kids are OK!) One on one is the answer here, if you have the capacity to do this liek we did then it can be done without damaging your child for life (OK so the jury will be out on that one). I wish I had figured this out sooner, but am just glad that we did! You get the ‘tick box’ national curriculum stuff out of the way and guess what, you go off on a tangent because your child is really into something and 1/2/3 hours later and three books instead of one book down (where did that time go?!) and you realise what an amazing feeling it is to see your child love what they are learning. So you replicate this day in and day out and you know what? It feels good. As Edith S Childs might say you get ‘fired up, and ready to go.’
Your mental health cannot take it (mine couldn't for sure). Over the past three years I have got my physcial and mental health to where it has never been before, swimming regularly and really pushing it (over 16 consecutive days in October 2019 I swam a combined 21 miles, 35,000 metres for cancer charities). Then I got injured and was unable to swim, finally being able to go back in February/March this year and then the pandemic hit. I knew then that I had to completely rethink my approach to not jsut my physical fitness but to my mental fitness also. I may have annoyed my colleagues but my message to them has been the same; look after your physical fitness and this in turn helps you to start understanding your own mental fitness but also if you are able to evaluate yourself mentally and physically then you should be able to see what you are missing (and more importantly how to get to that). I changed my diet and re wrote my own daily routine, really embracing the idea of habit stacking
To adapt physically I was as mentioned doing the Joe Wicks PE but I had also learned from a colleague about Wim Hof and the Wim Hof Method before the pandemic hit, this was the link I needed to find that equlibirum between my physical and my mental health. There are loads of great (free) resources out there aroudn Wim Hof, I suggest the Joe Rogan podcast on YouTube to start!
'You don't have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.'
Habits start somewhere and one thing I was not afraid of was change. So I changed, and as things continued to be strange and different I kept changing.
Things are different now, you need (probably through trial and error) to find your ‘way to your new normal.’
The New Normal - Draft 2 (ongoing)
During April I had changed what I was doing as things kept changing around me, my pipeline dropped 85% literally overnight and we were furloughing staff, it was becoming evident that things were not going to go back to how they were any time soon - if at all! The impact on my own and my familys mental health was huge, our annual Haven holiday was going to be cancelled and I realised I was going to have to look for another 'new normal' for them as much as for myself.
This was clearly going to be about me finding how I can support my own mental health - physically.
Of course, I want to be leaner, fitter and mentally sharper coming out of this so I am keeping a routine with what I am eating! My latest daily smoothy being;
- 1 tsp matcha green tea
- 100g Huel powder (original vanilla)
- 2 bananas
- 1 avocado
- 400ml almond milk
- 4 ice cubes
Keep up with looking for ways to improve and really embrace this time with your families guys, i'm sure we will all come out the other side with a greater depth of appreciation - not just for NHS and other key workers (teachers of course!) But for ourselves and each other.
Thanks for reading this far and remember guys; don't forget to breathe......