April 08, 2020
By Dr Kathy Weston
Over the years, I have often advised coachees, fed up of being in a professional or personal rut, to try something new and shake things up a bit.
This involves recognising what doesn’t work and then committing to disrupt thinking patterns, in the hope that new perspectives emerge. One little way of moving out of a rut, is to alter your physical environment. I confess, my background as a criminologist becomes relevant here, as I have always been interested in what is termed ‘environmental criminology’ and how the architecture of space can influence human behaviour.
We recently moved to a bungalow which has meant a far greater degree of family interaction and less shouting (up the stairs, for example). This bungalow also serves as a type of panopticon, as I can see exactly what the kids are getting up to from most rooms of the house (always useful!).
Keen to lessen the boredom last weekend, I enlisted the family to re-assign the dining table to a new spot near the window, place the sofa against a different wall and moved some lights around. The hope was that this little change might nudge us into exciting new ways of engaging with our home, and with each other.
When we move things around the physical space, it can encourage more dynamism in terms of family interaction, freshen up the chat and ignite our brains into new ways of thinking. Worth a try? The same approach can apply to the routes you take on your daily exercise route, where you work each day, and can also apply to home-schooling.
Children don’t necessarily need to be at the same desk, every day, doing the same thing. By giving them choice over where they sit, it can feel slightly more empowering. Can they draw in the garden, rather than in their bedroom? Or do their maths homework on a beanbag instead of a chair? As much choice as we can give within the limited confines of where we live at present, the better.
We watched Mary Poppins last night (the new one with Emily Blunt) and I was thrilled by the scene featuring Meryl Streep as cousin Topsy who refused entry to her shop on account it was “Second Wednesday of the month”; when things “turn turtle” and her life goes “flippity-flop”. During such times, “she didn’t know her up from her down or her east from her west.” We can all identify with the world “turning turtle”, but, as suggested by this delightful film, when it does happen, it can also open up new ways of seeing the world. Do watch that scene with your children and perhaps try a living room handstand (as per the film), to view your domestic space differently.
As Easter approaches, try to take the normal UK ‘holiday days’ off, if you can, albeit still at home. Let your children suggest some activities to do over the Easter weekend.
I have made volumes of bubble mix in preparation for Easter and bulk bought mini-eggs (two packs), in anticipation of a family treasure hunt around the garden. Treasure hunts aren’t just designed by adults, for children.
It can work the other way too. Children, tweens and teens can create a brilliant treasure hunt for adults. It engages their thinking, encourages dialogue between siblings and, most importantly, is a fun activity that will engage the whole family. Can older family members assist with clues by Skype?
P.S. No matter how you are feeling at the current time, please take 5 minutes to fill out this survey, curated by the top researchers in the country who are assessing how the crisis is affecting our children: http://cospaceoxford.com/survey
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