I couldn’t figure out what it was at first. My first three days of work at home due to COVID-19 were really strong. I was sharing the house workload: cleaning, cooking, laundry, and the like. I was spending some quality time with the kids.
And then suddenly, it all changed. I was unmotivated to work. I was restless. The kids were no longer cute. They were obnoxious. Their questions were irritating and I couldn’t understand why they were so dependent on their parents, even the 4-year-old. Go figure. I went to Google and searched “stir-crazy defined” and found, “Stir-crazy: restless or frantic because of confinement, routine, etc.,” and “upset or angry because you have been prevented from going somewhere or doing something for a long time.” Yep. I was definitely stir-crazy. Looking back, I’m proud that I made it to Day Three of this work from home experiment.
I vowed to not let it get to that point again. Through a little research, common sense, and talking to colleagues I developed a strategy.
10 Ways to NOT Get Stir-Crazy:
- Recognize that everyone in the house has a limit. None of us are superhuman, though sometimes I think my wife is. Staying cooped up in the house without a real break in the midst of the current circumstances with the same people is a recipe for “stir- crazy.”
- Regularly get outside. My wife gardens. I bike alone and with my kids. Sometimes we simply sit on the porch. Others take a walk. Some of my kids throw a baseball.
- Permission to be spontaneous. Everyone in the house is granted permission to call together a spontaneous activity. Card game. Pillow fight. Dancefest. Wii 3-Point Shooting Contest (Limits may be necessary on how often and how long.)
- Build family playtime into regular schedule. If everyone knows when to look forward to scheduled playtime, then it can help everyone stay focused during the other times.
- Do something good for someone else. Check on the neighbors. Call your elderly friends and include the kids on the call. Write a family letter to someone you know that’d appreciate it.
- Schedule daily quiet, alone time. Sometimes all the noise can drive you crazy.
- Video call loved ones. Part of what makes us stir crazy with the kids is a lack of relaxed connection with the outside world. Virtual coffee dates during your mid-morning break might be in order.
- Have some empathy. If you’re trying to avoid going stir crazy, know that your children are susceptible as well. Even the most introverted of us can go stir-crazy when we feel like we are confined to one space.
- Refocus on why we are quarantined. The bigger picture is that we are trying to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our community.
- Exercise. Release those endorphins, the chemicals in your brain that can trigger positive feelings. It can help your mood.
Proactively prevent going stir-crazy by recognizing that if you don’t do anything to prevent it, then you’re inviting it. A stir-crazy parent is not a fun person to be around. When this is all said and done, I want my children to be excited to get out of the house because it’s fun and it’s natural. If I’m not proactive, my kids will scatter because Dad has gone crazy and they can’t wait to not be stuck inside with him anymore.