So, we have entered a third national lockdown. After the announcements in March and November, you would think that Boris Johnson and his Government would have a checklist of important information to include in a lockdown briefing. Unfortunately, this list seems to have been lost, mistakenly taken on a trip to Waitrose, leaving Boris to babble behind his podium, staring at a post-it with fruit, veg and toothpaste scribbled on it. Once again, university students were left puzzled on 4 January and were presented with a choice: to return or to stay home.
While some have chosen to isolate with friends back in their university accommodation, for many the convenience, comfort, and cost (or lack thereof), which staying with family presents enticed them to remain home. However, a month on, some are starting to question that decision. With fewer contact hours and the refusal from universities to provide an effective safety net policy, remote learning has fuelled the accelerating stress levels of students. What is more, they must adjust to life with their new housemates: their parents.
Behind each front door lies a unique cocktail of challenges: from home schooling to battling boredom with ambitious DIY projects. Whilst I acknowledge that these are minor obstacles in the grand scheme of things, it is the reality for many, and every bubble has its own complications. Ordinarily, the everyday tensions and bickering that litter domestic life are broken up by work, school, and holidays, but in 2021 there is no rest bite. Meanwhile students are trying to scrape together a degree. So here are RAZZ’s top tips to cope with University from home and working alongside your parents.
Top Tip Number One – Set aside time dedicated to them.
There has been a big focus on remaining connected with those who are at a distance. However, it is important not to neglect those within your bubble too. Although our timetables are practically bare, this does not mean the workload has decreased. You may be buried under readings and recorded lectures, but it is important to remember you are not in an isolated space. While I am sure some of you are living as independently as possible, I know that many have slipped back into the family timetable; a system which is somewhat conflicting to the traditional student routine. To avoid any conflict or feeling like passing ships in the night, ensure that you consider the plans of others and, if possible, try and allocate time to catching up with the family. Start a boxset together, share cooking responsibilities, go on a dog walk; anything that prevents you from becoming trapped within your own bubble of zoom calls and work.
Top Tip Number Two – Set your boundaries.
Living at home for such an extended period is very different to returning in the winter and summer breaks. The regularity of everyday life has evolved around your absence, so your return can feel strange for everyone. Working within the home all-day, every day is a new situation which we are all adapting to. Setting those physical and metaphorical boundaries can help to maintain some sense of independence. If possible, try to establish a set workspace and pre-warn others in the house about Zoom seminars or lectures to avoid any clashes. Having time and space to yourself is a luxury not awarded to everyone, but if you have the chance, make sure you get some time away to detox from the chaos of living on top of one another, even if that is just a cup of tea in the garden.
Top Tip Number Three – Get Outside!
With the weather being so wet and miserable, there is a temptation to stay huddled under the duvet or tucked beneath a desk. However, even just a 5-minute walk can be grounding. The cold air is a great refresher and seeing others (from a distance) is a great reminder that there is a world beyond your laptop screen.
Top Tip Number Four – Set up little rewards.
Lockdown, as we know, is very repetitive and the weekdays all blur into one splodge of work. To combat this, put in place some rewards. Have a digital drinks night, pamper evening, or make a fancy breakfast at the weekends. Anything that you enjoy and that will motivate you through the day. It can really be as simple as a take-away, but it will make all the difference.
I hope these tips help make these last few months of lockdown easier. Most importantly, set aside time to check in with yourself. Lockdown has its ups and downs and, at the end of the day, this is a global pandemic!
– Katie Dunbar
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