How My Grandson Reminded Me Of Mindfulness During COVID-19

May 7, 2020


Commonalities with retirement and a pandemic

When I retired over two years ago, I was preparing for COVID-19, I just didn’t know it at the time. 

In 2020 conversations and habits have surprisingly turned around to social distancing, video communication, planned shopping, home cooking and maintenance, supporting each other and an uncertain future. My own experience says, it is not all bad.   

I went from a busy workplace full of social interaction, intellectual stimulation, being in demand, feeling needed, a job title, respected for my work ethics, objectives to meet and a sense of purpose. All this changed from the day I handed in my ID.  

Now we are in the middle of a pandemic and from what I am witnessing, people are experiencing similar feelings to the ones I had back then. What is different unfortunately, is they have been forced into a unique overwhelming position, with no chance to prepare.

I had time to plan, whereas with the pandemic, people have not been afforded this luxury and understandably feel anxious, want to run away, even choose to deny their situation which eventually catches up with them. 

Wellbeing is about being mindful and grateful

There is uncertainty and unpredictability with these unprecedented circumstances, yet they are not necessarily a long term position. A cocktail of mindfulness and gratefulness are wonderful qualities to develop, adopt and build on, like consuming a refreshing mixed drink.  

My recent interactions with my grandson’s online school project on “How Mindfulness Can Help During the Coronavirus Outbreak” has reminded me of all this. I am unable to visit nor cuddle any of my family as they all live somewhere else. I am on my own and it’s okay.  

It took time, but for my well-being and for those around me, it was essential to adopt this cocktail.  I needed to learn how to deal with major and permanent changes to my life, learn to say “my role at work was” with “I have retired from my corporate world”. 

I needed to reflect, review and find a new sense of purpose in life that was not built around my career. I can say with hand on heart, I have successfully achieved this and people in the new pandemic world can do this too. 

When you think there is no light at the end of the tunnel, there are lights to find in the tunnel, rather than search for them at the end. 

Since retirement I am experiencing wonderful remote times with family and friends and discovering new positives with the pandemic. 

Positive experiences to be grateful for 

  • I feel included in my grandsons’ lives when I provide regular online teaching support. They book my time to coincide with their school schedule. From my computer we exchange emailed documents and talk via phone or even better FaceTime to visually discuss their lesson objectives. It has been a three-way process. I see what young ones are learning at school, my daughter is given a break and she has happy teenage students who have benefited from my input. 
  • Remote AGM meeting on Zoom. Opportunity to meet members of my Melbourne based ski club that otherwise would not have happened. It was like meeting up with old family, many for the first time. 
  • Video Skype meetings from our Sydney based Writers in the Lull group, connects us as one for interstaters as well as our overseas based members. 
  • Online dancing lessons, personal training sessions.
  • Extra time to spend on personal passions. 
  • My daughter sounds much more relaxed, happier and is getting things done at home. Even my son-in-law is enjoying the quieter time as often he would be helping others after work, eating late and going to bed feeling worn out.
  • Friends have reported their family unit moves at a calmer pace, they have more time to listen and communicate with each other rather than the token duty between rushed commitments. 
  • Single mothers working from home reported more relaxed with less pressure as they deal with work demands yet are on call to assist with school work.  
  • Couples less emotionally stressed trying to balance the work-home lifestyle. They can arrange flexible work hours with each other.    
  • The burden of guilt lifted. Workers have discovered they can meet their KPI’s as an employee plus be there as a parent.  
  • Reduced travel time to and from work utilises productively at home.

Maybe not all things should go back to the way they were

Many of my young friends and family members are embracing their forced isolation status. When we talk about the government indicating things will be back to normal soon, their silent sighs of disappointment tell a different story. Their minds visualising their old daily routine, the exhaustion of it all. Rushing, deadlines, driving, meetings, homework, school sports, dinner, showers, a listening ear. Phew it tires me just writing about it! Doesn’t this say a lot about how we live our lives.

Comments like “I know I shouldn’t but I am loving being forced into home isolation”, “I am picking up on things I had forgotten about”, “we are talking as a family”, “I can work from home without feeling guilty”, “it is possible to meet my work commitments and attend to my child/children”. 

Of course we yearn for some things to return to normal but there is a big BUT.

Take control of our destiny

  • Organisations and staff to negotiate flexible hours for those wanting to work from home.  
  • Consider allocated days for site visits, the remainder on videoconferencing. Some businesses have already proved this can be successful.
  • Ensure set KPI’s are monitored and managed with staff members. 
  • Use the older work force for online support at home or school.  
  • Grandparents have a wealth of knowledge and experience. If they keep an open mind they have a chance to move with the times, provide online video support for grandchildren, with dual benefits. 

It is blatantly obvious that many are not keen to go back to the way things were. Most have indicated they want to partially return to some of the things they did, but not in quite the same way.  The pandemic has given us time to contemplate our life values. I am hoping both businesses and individuals consider alternatives to better everyone’s future.

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