GIFT OF TIME – WORKING FROM HOME WITH YOUNG ADULT CHILDREN

Written by Milly Serpell

After 3 weeks of self-isolation followed by 2 weeks of soft and hard curfew, I can tell you that living with three beloved young adults has been quite an experience and I have learnt so much. Obviously, my 16, 19 and 22-year old’s get it and understand the reason, well most of the time, why we had to self-isolate, but I am not sure that it makes it any easier.

They are all young and in the prime of their life and at a time when they should be seeking out adventures, leaving the home and forging their own paths. To have realized that they needed to leave their recently started London careers, University courses and residences, abandon their GCSE studies and return home to Mum and Dad was not an easy decision to make yes but a choice that very quickly became inevitable and unavoidable.

I do consider our family very functional, although I am sure some may not, but the challenges of having 4 nearly 5 adults all of whom are related living under one roof are very real. These young adults have been earning their own money, making many daily, weekly, monthly and life impacting decisions and all of a sudden, they are back living under Mum & Dads roof with all the rules and routines that come with that.

The impact of the self-isolation and soft curfews have been significantly enhanced for us because we are a household of highly active people that crave high adrenal in sports which generally involve high speeds. These high speeds come in the form of kite boarding, high speed motor bikes, high speed horses and high speed surf boards. The sea is like oxygen to us and until the lock down commenced, I cannot remember a day that my youngest child wasn’t on or in the sea. So obviously, like for many, there have been days when the lock down has been hard to comply with but comply we have.

I decided early on that for us to survive we would need to divide the chores, ensure everyone was aware and acknowledged the house rules and ask that we all respected each other’s space and privacy. Although I tried to plan and anticipate the impact of the isolation on the family, I can share that I have learnt a lot along the way.

A schedule was devised that divided up laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, ironing and ensured that every member of the house had 1-2 chores every day. We converted the garage into an exercise room and encouraged everyone to maintain / increase and enhance their exercise schedules. Interestingly these schedules were well received, accepted and adhered to and we have been the lucky recipients of home-made gnocchi, homemade breads and endless baking, Italian nights, curry nights, the list goes on and on. I would love to be able to say that the last 4, 5 or who knows how many weeks have been harmonious and smooth sailing. As mentioned, I have learnt a lot and here’s what I can share and suggest for those of us suddenly finding ourselves unexpectedly living with our young adult children:

  • Find out about tik-tok and embrace – it is not going away
  • Acknowledge that now is NOT the time to try and change some irritating habit or bad table manner
  • Purchase some ear plugs and be cool with the loud music because you won’t be able to hear it
  • If not all the chores get done it’s ok. If a 16-year-old can get out of bed, make his bed and brush his teeth maybe that’s OK for one day
  • Be understanding and accepting of how much they will miss their friends. Time with friends is extremely important and I am sure we can all remember being stuck with parents at a young age and not being able to see your friends for 24 hours let alone weeks on end
  • Take deep breaths and count to 100 before replying to the frequently repeated questions such as “can I get a piercing”, “can I get a tattoo” and “can I have a party”
  • Exercise together as much as possible. I have become incredibly impressed with how strong, supple and committed to exercise my kids are. After years of nagging them to exercise it is wonderful to really be able to work out together and see them compete
  • Never ever lose a sense of humor and look for laughs in everything
  • Use this gift of time to find about and get to know your kid’s friends albeit remotely and virtually
  • Use this gift of time to get to know your kid’s favorite music, books, TV shows and movies
  • Use this gift of time to watch thought provoking Ted talks together allowing the conversation to infiltrate into mealtimes
  • If they don’t eat 3 well balanced meals a day let it go……………..
  • If they don’t emerge before Midday let it go…………………..
  • If they ask for a 3rd Jacques Scott order this week………………. let it go

Although we are in the midst a global pandemic with tragic consequences for many families, I am looking at this experience as a “gift of time”. Yes, at times I feel frustrated and irritated with my kids but I am so grateful to have my immediate family close by, to be able to reconnect in a deeper and more fulfilling way than ever before (rarely present as in working mum syndrome). Daily meals, games, conversation and laughs together has truly made me realize what is important in life and I will be forever grateful. This is a gift of time I might never receive again……………………