Living together with different schedules

10:09 AM

 15 months of pandemic and recurrent lockdown has affected us all in many way. People talk about the obvious : grief, loss, death, fear, coping with change, but there are ways it is changing us all that are far less talked about, even though they are anything but invisible or insignificant. 

Such as how we are all rethinking or work life balance, our personal space and how it affect family dynamics in the long run. 

We all rearranged our lives, made room for a shared home office space, shared laptops, or played a game of musical desk chairs. We all had to figure out ways to live together 24/7 without loosing our sanity and ourselves. Some managed better than others, some households are more crowded but we all found ourselves having to figure out a way to tweak the way we live. 

In our home, we pretty much shifted to a routine where we all have different schedules, and operate quite independently from one another.
I'm an introvert who crave her space and in the beginning resented having my loved ones in my face and in my hair all the time. Hubby is a somewhat ambivert person who is ok with people around but still need his space. My daughter is HIGHLY extroverted and need near constant social interaction.

The 2020 tight lockdown had been harsh on all of us in different way and we quickly and quite unconsciously found a system that let us all have some space. 

Hubby and I both work from home now, and most of the day, he needs the home office because attending office calls in the middle of the living room or lying down in bed isn't practical for any of us. My daughter needs the laptop all mornings until 1pm for school, and I need my peace and quiet and zero interruption to do my best creative work. 

This resulted in me waking up super early to get some quiet office time and the laptop before I decided to buy myself a new one.  I usually wake up around 5am and use the home office until 10. Hubby takes over and I move to the living room. During the school year my daughter would be "in school" in her bedroom from 8 to 1 and then we would have lunch, which we don't always take together. 
Because I woke up early, I got in the habit to take a long nap post lunch, and then by 7pm it has become an unspoken fact that the living room and Netflix belong to me. 

My daughter finally got her own phone last August, so she uses it to face time and chat with her friends a lot and is a much happier, less aggressive person since we allowed her that freedom. 
Hubby filled the evenings of no longer going out with friends by upgrading his skills and signing up for online classes he takes until late into the night. 
Having started my day at 5am, I'm usually in bed by 10-ish pm, long before hubby joins me. Often our meal time are different too, even though we make a point to connect over lunch. 

I can't help but make parallel to a few memories from my childhood. Growing up, my father was really into sailboats (he still is) and I spent quite a few Summer on the mediterranean sea on a 7 meter long, single hull boat where all 4 of us would live for 3-4 weeks at a time.
It was a kind of tiny home thing before these became trendy, and the indoor living quarters where we ate, slept and cooked were roughly about 10 square meters (107 square feet for non metric folks). 

When we were anchored somewhere we could get off the boat, visit places, eat in restaurants, enjoy the beach and not be on top of one another. But when we were doing a 2-3 days sea journey, we were ship bound, often on a rocking sea that would make anybody but my dad puke overboard and all move to a "life in shifts" mode. My parents would take shifts to take control of the rudder and cook, and my sister and I would manage to give ourselves space by moving around the boat : reading a book in the cockpit, watching the dolphins when they came say hello, listening to music on our Walkmans to isolate ourselves from the rest of the family, drawing at the dinning table alone...

Just like we are doing now in a bigger flat, my family did shift to a space giving model when sailing for several days straight, and to think of it, even when on shore.

There is that growing misconception that families need to do everything together, that if you don't hover over your kids all the time, and spend all off work time with your loved ones you are a bad person. 
I don't think any of us who grew up in the 70's and 80's even had that insane, suffocating scenario playing in our homes, in normal time with no restricted quarters or a pandemic going on. But apparently, 2020 was the year we should all have spent renewing bonds with our family because we had nowhere else to go.

Sorry folks! Trapped into your own house 24/7 sucks, even if it is with your family, it still sucks, and it's human nature to want to have some space and me time, and being deprived of it can have a huge impact on mental health.

If you have read this post until now, I am sure you are nodding along, and realised that like me and my family, you have shifted unconsciously toward a system where each and every member of your household operates on different and totally independent schedules. 
It's not wrong, or evil or anti-family, it's much needed self-preservation in hard times. It doesn't mean you hate your family, or that you are a selfish person. Doing this is in fact quite the opposite, none of us were meant to live on top of one another for so long and I'd be willing to bet that astronauts on the International space are doing the same thing. Scratch that, I'm pretty sure coping with living in tight quarters is an adverse element or situation is part of their training. 

As I said, in my household, we usually have lunch together, at least 4-5 times a day, there are days we don't even have the same thing on the plate, because we all have different diet needs and taste, and it's ok too. 
A couple of times a week, we play board games in the evening as a family, those are the moments we WILLINGLY connect and spend as a family and make them count. 
To be fair, in normal times, we all have separate routines through the day : going to school, going to work, running errands, meeting friends and we often all use the evening meal as a way to connect for an hour or two before moving on the pre-bedtime routine. I don't think humans all through the ages were designed to spend entire days in tight quarters with their close family and thought they had to be social at all time. 

If you feel guilty of not spending time with family members despite living 24/7 at home with them, please trash that guilt...NOW
It's ok to want the living room for yourself and watch the TV alone. It's ok to not want to talk to people over breakfast just because none of you are in a rush to head to office and that time should be used "well". It's ok to be "selfish" and order take out just for yourself after the kids are in bed and share it with nobody. It's ok to retreat in the bedroom and put on noise cancelling headphones on to listen to music alone and undisturbed. It's ok to live on a different time zone than the rest of the family because you are taking an online class. 
And if you are a woman, I cannot stress it enough : It's ok if you don't cook every meal, or tell your kids to grab "whatever is in the fridge" for dinner. 

Difficult times mean we all need to adapt and do so in a way that works for us, not based on what society at wide think we should do. 

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