My new job feels more like that of a house matron: who is doing schoolwork on the computer and who is browsing on amazon.com? Who has been sitting on the couch reading all morning, and who has gotten outside for some form of exercise? Who’s cleaning up after themselves in the kitchen, and who is leaving half-filled bowls of cereal around the house?
Trying to strike a balance between nagging and leaving them to their own devices. The problem is that is literally where they end up - on their devices.
I recognize that I have it easy compared to many people. Some people are watching their fledgling businesses go under, others have been furloughed or laid off and don’t know how they are going to provide for their families. Some people are stuck home in severely dysfunctional households.
Recognizing my privilege helps put things into perspective. It helps me step back and take a breath.
On the surface, I might feel like it’s hard to all be stuck home together. But my impatience is really just a cover to avoid deeper feelings.
Letting go of one’s sense of control and being with the unknown is hard. The controller in me wants to manage the unknown by jumping into the driver’s seat.
So, I gave myself an assignment this morning that I sometimes use with clients. I made myself a little diagram of my circle of control, circle of influence and circle of concern (an idea based on Stephen Covey’s work in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).
I wrote down the things I have control over (like washing my hands), things I have some influence over (reminding my kids not to touch their faces) and the things that concern me at the moment (will grocery stores run out of food, will someone I love get sick and die…)
It is a helpful exercise, not because I was confused about which things belong in which circle, but rather because it helps me to take a step back and not be so hard on myself or my teenagers.
It also helps remind me where to put my energy. I don’t think the kids have been enjoying the nagging - being left alone cycle anymore than I have.
Instead, perhaps I can ask them to come up with some structure for themselves that includes exercise, schoolwork, downtime and help around the house. That way, expectations are clear, and they have some autonomy to figure out how those boxes will be checked off.
A little structure, a little patience and a lot of compassion for all of us disrupted from our sense of normalcy will go a long way toward making this a road we can walk together rather than each in our bubble of separateness and coping.
What has felt like a struggle for you this past week? What is your relationship to control? How might patience and compassion be helpful to you in this moment? Where do you need support?
Jessica Curtis is a professional life coach who helps people cultivate intention and live from a place of meaning and authenticity. If you think you could benefit from working with Jessica or want to invite her to work with your group, reach out to start a conversation.