Welcome to Fake Professor Lucy’s Life Hacks for Hermitting Amidst Chaos 101. (That title probably needs work) In my five years as a full-time author, I have achieved expert-level status in staying at home AND dealing with things that are terrible (though usually on a much smaller scale than what we’re currently dealing with. For instance, 1-star reviews and cat butts.
Please allow me to offer you my most helpful tips (that I only sometimes adhere to myself).
1. Build a structure. Not that chicken roost you’ve been meaning to put up in the backyard. I mean a loose schedule or a REALISTIC to do list of items for your day. This is the ONLY way I get crap done. I break my lists into Work, Home, and Personal. I try to make these lists the night before so I wake up with a plan already in place. (Helpful Hint: Don’t do what I do and decide you’re suddenly going to get up an hour early, write 8,000 words before noon, rearrange the laundry room, learn 100 signs in sign language, and teach Cleo to clean her own litter box in one day.)
2. Get some quality time. If you’re anything like me, this situation is aggressively stripping away all the things we thought were essential. If you’re hunkered down with your family, use this as an opportunity to have real conversations, to goof off together, to remind yourself of how lucky you are to have each other. (Helpful Hint: It doesn’t have to be eight hours of quality time. That would actually be quantity time, which is more annoying.)
3. Pencil in privacy. For those of you who suddenly find yourself surrounded by people in your own home, it’s also important to prioritize “me time” for each family member who needs it. You can attempt this in a couple of different ways. Have a “sanctuary” room that each person gets sole access to once a day. Or, like my brother and sister-in-law do, send the kids to their bedrooms for Quiet Hour, during which they aren’t allowed to ask for snacks.
4. Stay connected. Reach out when you feel like it. Video chat with family and friends. Give Zoom Happy Hours or Netflix Viewing Parties a try. Or check in with someone who lives alone. A neighbor. A relative. A stranger on Facebook (non-creepily, of course).
5. Don’t wear jeans. This tip is self-explanatory.
6. Give yourself permission to do nothing. This is a traumatic time on so many different levels. Don’t feel that you HAVE to get all of your house projects done or edit your inbox down to 0 or suddenly master 8th grade math. One of the most important things you can give yourself (and your family) is rest. It’s okay to sleep in. It’s okay to spend the day/weekend binging Parks & Rec episodes. It’s okay to take some down time after YEARS of being over-scheduled and under-rested. Rest is good for the soul and the immune system. Take the nap. Snooze the alarm. Burrito yourself in the blanket.
7. Ingest the happy. Okay. I’m definitely not saying begin binge drinking. And I’m not saying eat only deep-fried Twinkies. I’m also not not saying don’t drink or eat Twinkies (or maybe I am. I got confused by the double negative). What I AM saying is we are fueled by what we consume. This also applies to what we watch, listen to, and read. If you are following the news right now or drowning in negativity and just plain dumbness on social media, I highly encourage you to ALSO make sure you’re consuming beautiful, positive, happy things. Because as tough as this situation is, it has not erased baby giggles, sunrises, and fat puppies biting their own tails from this world. It is absolutely imperative that you give yourself the chance to be immersed in beautiful, happy things every single day. In fact, the worse your day is, the more important Tip # 7 is. So, cue up those sitcom re-runs. Make fart noises with your children. Curl up with your favorite happily ever after. Seek out the light, the happy, the funny. Because that is what fuels your spirit. That and alcohol and deep-fried Twinkies.