2 PM I started writing this article sharing my experience after moving back with parents due to #COVID19 pandemic and then my mom barges into my room with some food.
My mom barges into my bedroom five times a day, usually with some kind of food.
Growing up, I never locked my bedroom. The concept of privacy is slightly different here. It is my mom’s birthright to charge into my room with “Vish, have some mangoes.”, “Vish eat one more roti”, “Vish are you not hungry” and so on. And that was fine but I moved to Delhi 12 years ago and now I am 30. Things have changed, clearly not my mom.
“Mom,” I shout in slight frustration. “I’m on a phone call, this can’t keep happening.”
But I know it will happen, and longer than I can even begin to imagine.
After I moved to the big city, my visits were generally for a couple of days. Holi and Diwali breaks would be longer, maybe a week. And during those festivals, I would be in full holiday mode.
It’s different this time. I have been home now for two months and I have to really start thinking about making it a sustainable choice. This time, it’s not holiday mode, it’s pretty long term.
“We’re all adults here, and healthy boundaries should be set to reflect that” I read when I researched how to cope with the current situation.
Hilariously enough, setting boundaries while moving in with parents as an adult is just about adhering to a lot of the guidelines I ignored while growing up 😉
The truth that I experienced is that even if I grew up in this house and still have the personal bedroom to prove it, I am kind of a guest here now. That doesn’t mean I have to instantly enslave myself, but it does mean I should work with my family in creating rules. Ideally, as soon as I got here and that’s exactly what I didn’t do.
It’s an incredibly difficult time for people like me who have left the cities and moved back in with their parents. Balancing work and family dynamics can be a lot. I feel it’s important to set ground rules from the beginning. Also, I keep reminding myself that I am entering their space and living in their home.
In case you didn’t know, playing games, watching TV together, taking walks, helping grandmom with medicines, washing dad’s car, or cooking together with mom can help. I didn’t realize its importance when I was here during the short visits, but with two months gone and maybe years to go you never know.
Leaning in to offer ‘connection’ time and things to do to help out, might act as a launching pad to setting boundaries.
You also want to be proactive in setting up work from home guidelines, else you will be dealing with a lot of awkwardness. Trust me on this. Has it happened to you that you are on a video conference with your team members or clients spread all around the world and next thing you know, you see your mom on your computer screen offering you Parantha or Rajma Chawal?
Trust me, these days, I exaggerate my work schedule to the family so they know they cannot have full-scale dialogues during my 9:30 a.m. team calls or any calls for that matter. Exaggeration works with my family.
I let them know that I have work to do and usually from this time to that time, I won’t be available.
Setting up a routine can be helpful because then everyone will know what to expect. I think it’s important even if you are isolating with your partner.
Setting up time for work, self, and family is important. Take a walk, get some fresh air, work out, take some time just for you will allow you to be more available for those around you.
Because of COVID-19’s precondition to impact the 65+ set (my grandmother), family dynamics shifted fast. I was suddenly the caretaker of my grandmother and trying to keep her inside the house (it’s for her own good, but she’s in the late 70’s and doesn’t comprehend information well). When it comes to communicating and quarreling, though, I had to do it as equals, with as much empathy as possible. Not forgetting, they are humans.
So in arguments, I keep telling myself everyone is doing the best they can do. Often, going back to the point on gratitude, and trying to put me in their shoes helps. Asking what they need before sharing what I need helps mitigate arguments, I think.
I remember back when my mother would ask me to mop the floor or do the dishes, I would always challenge it. Shout “NO” or “WHY” or just slam my bedroom door and blast 90’s popular Himesh Reshamia’s Songs (He was the trend back then).
These days, if my mother has a request for which I’m too legitimately exhausted, a “no, thank you” and a smile usually does the trick. Again, kindness is key when it comes to getting along, I realized.
Telling my mom how exhausted I am on some days which are really busy, fielding all the Live webinar training that I have no time to myself earns me a lot of brownie points. Also, you would notice that work bleeds over into personal times most days, and need a breather for yourself. Letting her in that helps her understand what’s going on for me, and it’s easier for her not to take it personally.
I would’ve finished this article earlier but my grandmother burst into my room asking me to turn on Ramayana for her on TV.
Good luck out there, everyone. Stay Safe.
Author: Vishal Punetha
Corporate Training Consultant
I Train Consultants India Pvt. Ltd.
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