Remote work works, if you don't have (small) kids
Remote work can work, that is if you don't have kids. I have a kid in first grade. His school did an excellent job keeping him occupied during the first three weeks of lockdown during the coronavirus outbreak. Then, the school vacation started, no program, and mom and dad still needed to work. There is a limit to how many Legos one can buy to keep your child busy building them. Children need a variety of activities to stay engaged. iPad and too much screen time made me pray for the schools to start again. I have to admit that our child is relatively easy-going and listens, at least after the fifth reminder, to put the iPad down and play with real toys. Sometimes you are so into working that three hours go by and, oops, your kid was on the iPad the whole time. To help my bad conscious, I finally installed some coding games and Finnish lessons on the computer, and he seems to enjoy them.
I do indeed hope this is not the new reality for kids, since children need to play with other children and the parents need to be able to do their jobs. It is difficult if you need to be a teaching assistant to your kid and suffering of bad consciousness for the lack of creative activities you do with them. Nevertheless, the pandemic has brought some good things to our lives.
1. We spend more time outdoors every day. It is incredible to feel the communal need to go out, especially when the sun is out. For us Finns, this is normal and fed to us with the morning porridge as kids, but it is interesting to see my neighbour packing the family bikes on the roof of the car to go roaming the forests furtherer from home. It is undoubtedly one of the habits that I hope people will keep. I took up yoga and jogging again when the gym closed its doors. Our daily trips out are either walking or jogging with the child biking next to us.
2. Playing with your kids boosts your creativity! I took up drawing and painting again since my kid refuses to do it alone. I had forgotten that it is actually fun. I drew a picture with a pen that was not bad, not that I claim that it looks precisely like my son, but it resembles a human. Building rockets out of empty paper rolls, coming up with tasks for you kid to get some time for work and keeping him busy during your calls, is undoubtedly a boost to your brain cells.
3.Efficiency. Due to my child's limited patience and interest span (in case I don't leave him watching YouTube or playing games for hours) I have opted to limit my calls to a maximum of 25 minutes. It is a habit I would like to keep. The Pomodoro-method became handy also during the remote school since 25min was about the maximum time a 7-year-old can concentrate on any given school task.
4. Missing real social contact. Since social (physical) distancing was implemented, we have realised that many things can be done virtually and they are even better for the climate, reducing travelling time and CO2 emissions. But still, I do miss meeting people for real. Psychologically people who work remotely should get together at least every six months, so we should be able to keep up for some months in these present times. Maybe the next generation will be okay with virtual reality, but at least my kid still needs to play with other real kids. I guess as long as we have not developed a haptic avatar that enables us to feel the touch of another human, we will need to meet other humans. I am sure that virtual meetings will become more the norm, and hopefully, people will learn to appreciate the opportunity of meeting people and make the best of these occasions.
5. Hand hygiene and greeting culture has changed. Today we wash our hands regularly for 20 seconds, and this will for sure reduce the standard flue in the future, not to mention the fact that people will stay home when they get sick and not infect others. Wearing a mask when you are sick if you need to go out or to protect your family are also great precautions we have learned. It is no longer awkward not to shake hands for a greeting. We can freely choose how to greet people. It is the intention that counts.
6. Social media and online gaming is great for businesses in these areas. Still, one should use precaution, especially with kids, to limit their time spent online and teach them the right online behaviour. Small children are trustful and need to be aware of not giving their full names and addresses to their online "friends".
Spring is here and in some areas of the world, it looks like the #covid19 is easing its grip on society. I hope we can start moving back to normal soon, especially in regards to children's schooling, without that I am not sure how parents who work can start contributing 100% again. It is great to have the opportunity to spend time with your family. However, few of us are teachers, and a lesson many of us have learned is that it is not an easy task to get children excited in learning. It is in the best interest of our children, the parents and the whole society to let the professionals take care of the teaching. I hate to think what burnout might do to a family if this lockdown will be going on for too long. Still, I am positive that we can take the learning of the lockdown and change our habits for better, better for ourselves and for the world we live in.