David Willans of BeingDads writes about how hard lockdown is and the key questions that might lead to positive outcomes
As a kid, I remember long car journeys. I remember wishing with all my heart and soul to be anywhere but stuck there. I longed to be able to transport home. Anything but spend hours in the car.
Sometimes I feel like that about the situation we’re all in now. Locked-down together, trying to make up new routines while delivering on old expectations of working and parenting.
Isn’t all this time we’re spending together an opportunity? You could say so, and I’d like to, but that kind of comment has all the tact of celebrities singing John Lennon to give hope. The truth is we’re spending more time with the people we’re supposed to have all our sh*t together for, at a time when it’s near impossible to do that.
We’ve got to be careful, because with such stress, we will find ourselves getting angry, become overly controlling of the people around us, or selfishly try to escape through substances or irrelevant activities. This is inevitable, which is why the ‘opportunity’ comment and celebrity song are so misjudged, but there is a grain of truth in that idea of opportunity. We are spending a lot more time together than normal. If we can be kinder to ourselves when we mess up, more realistic in our expectations, we might just make good things out of all this.
To do that though, we need something stronger than a glib message, a badly sung song, or an inspirational quote. In my experience of changing myself and helping others change, there are few things that motivate more than regret. Especially when that regret is about the people we love most.
I’m slightly obsessed with questions, because they help me get to answers that work for my situation. They seem weird in a blog like this because a good question is challenging, it should be, but most people don’t read blogs to feel challenged. Hopefully, you’re up for it.
Try asking it of yourself every morning, when you have a few minutes to yourself. Try the shower. Set a reminder on your phone, or put a note by your bed to remind yourself. That way you don’t have an extra thing to remember.
It’s not a kind question. It’s asking you to think about the things that will go wrong. Doing this though, you’re thinking ahead. You will find yourself thinking of ways to avoid these situations. Ways that work for you.
But this alone isn’t enough, because we will mess up, so it needs a partner question to go with.
In 20+ years’ time, when we’re grandparents and our grandchildren are sat on our lap, asking us about the Great Pandemic of 2020, we’ll be able to look them straight in the eye and tell them how, in a weird way, it was an opportunity. One you and their mum or dad made the most of. You’ll be able to do it without sounding like a pillock too.
David Willans has two boys, works as a consultant and explores what it means to be a great dad at BeingDads. Check out his website here