The challenges of the New Normal – new routines, tighter finances, emotional stress -- can be valuable teaching moments for the whole family.
When the enhanced community quarantine was announced in March, I tried to look at the positive side and see the lockdown as an opportunity to rediscover what really matters.
First of all, it was a chance to focus on family. My wife and I could have time with the boys, and unplug from the daily traffic, school activities, and work. We embraced the chance to be together, further reinforce our family values, do some house cleaning, delve into some family projects, and learn new skills.
Second, we tackled the challenges of the New Normal – new routines, tighter finances, emotional stress -- and turned them into valuable teaching moments for the whole family.
Let financial challenges teach smarter spending habits
My wife and I talked to our boys about conserving water and electricity, and managing our meal plans better. I recall having to remind our boys that we are not a restaurant, and that we will not be making additional dishes for them. They had to eat what was prepared, and be grateful for the chance to eat a full meal. We cut down on complaints about the meals and learned to appreciate the work that my wife and I would put into planning and preparing meals that the family would enjoy.
We further cut down on electricity use by sleeping in the same room, limiting TV and internet time, and playing board games to enrich our family bonding time.
Prioritize physical and emotional well-being
Another important aspect that we have been implementing is trying to stay fit and well-rested to improve our health and mental well-being. This means, no alarms in the morning to allow for uninterrupted and natural sleep, as well as weekday afternoon naps for the boys. I also scheduled exercise and training sessions for both boys three times a week, so they had regular “sun time” and “sweat time”, and learned the value of hard work and consistency.
Set your priorities with the family WOOP
A few weeks ago, my wife and I attended a parent seminar to prepare for the upcoming school year. We were asked to come up with our WOOP or Wish, Outcomes, Obstacles, and Plans.
These parenting exercises helped us streamline our family concerns and goals as we entered the new school year’s challenge on “home collaborative learning”. When we compared our responses and found which priorities we had in common, we were able to further cut our expenses in some areas, while prioritizing our boys’ mental happiness and education.
Differentiate Needs vs Wants
When we would do our grocery list, we would create and proof the list together and discuss our needs versus wants. This would sometimes turn into light arguments as we questioned the snacks and meals as well as debates on allowing some indulgent food into the pantry – but it’s a discussion we happily engage in. When the quarantine measures were lifted, we would treat ourselves to drive through food or have food delivered twice a week to switch things up!
Worry less, love more
It’s normal to feel anxious or worried about the future. However, we decided to give our boys happy and positive memories by sharing a bit more laughs, taking timeouts for long discussions and sharing, and trying to be as present in the day to day.
For kids, the love language is always TIME, and this new reality has allowed for plenty of that. We are committed to make our New Normal a more positive, strong, and uplifting experience through open communication.
To fulfill this, we have also chosen to diversify our work and take on new roles and responsibilities that allow for us to have some flexibility while still earning money. Taking a step back to reassess how we spend our money, time, and energy has been a blessing for us as we grow into this new world. We hope you could also apply some of our learnings to make this time more fruitful for the entire family.
About The Writer
Vicente Bunuan is a full-time husband and father, and part-time Running Coach at InVINCIble Running. He has been married for thirteen years, and has two boys aged 6 and 12. Born in the Philippines, he moved to the U.S. as a child, and had all formal schooling there. He attended Georgetown University and graduated with a B.A. in Sociology and Psychology. He has worked in both higher education and in the non-profit industry in the U.S., as well as in Training & Development, and Marketing corporate companies in the Philippines. He and wife are also active in their sons’ schools as batch parent coordinators.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.