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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Palmer


Updated: Aug 31, 2020

There has been a lot written about self-quarantine interpersonal dynamics: feelings of isolation by those home alone, not enough isolation when you are at home with kids or roommates; how to social distance to get some work done or the seemingly impossible task of working from home and teaching your kids.

But does where your “home” is during the shelter in place order make a difference?How is “home” impacting feelings of deprivation or normalcy? How can we be more empathetic, patient, or compassionate by understanding how others are navigating these uncharted times?

In my coaching sessions over the past week, I have started to hear 4 patterns of Stay@Home scenarios:

1. I am staying at “home” at my daughter’s college apartment in AL. It is not my home, and

frankly, not hers either. She planned to move in this coming fall, but we are very fortunate to have it at this moment in time. Since it is not our actual home, we have no prior routine here, no favorite restaurants or friends or a support system to connect with locally. We have no “usual” and while she misses her school friends, she has limited memories of happier times in this physical space.

The same appears to be true for friends and clients who are at “home” at a family or friend’s house, but out of their home where they have connections or patterns. There seems to be a mental component similar to staying at an AirBnB or vacation home. A comfortable place with a bed and adequate amenities, but less FOMO (fear of missing out), less pining for what was or could be. There was nothing before so there is nothing missing now: there is an easier time living day-by-day, creating new routines, a “new normal”.

2. Alternatively, I am hearing more pain, deeper fractures, more struggles from those who are in their actual homes. They long for the simple traditions: Saturday morning farmer’s market, dropping into their favorite café, meeting friends for dinner. If they venture out for walks or drives within local distancing guidelines, they are deprived: they CAN’T stop in at a friend’s house, are PROHIBITED from visiting their favorite store, trail hikes and beach days are off-limits. Something is lost – something has been taken away. Drawing upon their memories, they are being deprived of something they yearn for, so close and yet so distant. They are more challenged to stay put and to do what is being mandated.

3. A third category is captured by people who are at home, but whose actual day-to-day hasn’t changed much. They are individual contributors for work and individual sports enthusiasts for play. For the most part, these friends and colleagues worked from home prior (and control not only their schedule but their pace and productivity) and they are runners, walkers or bikers for sport which allows them to keep up their physical activities. For many, their kids are either out of the house or older and therefore self-sufficient. So what does their day look like in April 2020? Much like it did in fall 2019. Some mixture of productivity, activity, and interaction with those sharing their physical space.

4. Same category, different flavor: older empty-nesters who are sheltering at home with the same person they normally spend the majority of their day with; retired or semi-retired individuals. Their challenges seem to be more fleeting. They miss the social element of their typical day, are lonely but not isolated; probably too much of the same ‘ole, same ‘ole of their routine.

And the states can be co-mingled. Think of the parents (in their home), hosting their adult children (away from their home). Mom is struggling in her altered normalcy, children closer to thriving as ‘guests’ in their family home. Bike riding dad has an outlet, but sheltering at home teens are missing friends and routine – even school.

There is no wisdom here, just observations. Observations that I hope can lead to more empathy, more patience, and more compassion. Knowing more about what individuals are experiencing brings me closer to understanding.

In coaching, we are talking about guilt and sadness, productivity or lack thereof, routine, forgiveness, gratitude. As we enter another week of doing our part by staying “home”, what insights can you observe and apply to support others through whatever their unique quarantine situation looks like?

How can we support each person as they feel their feels? And how can I help?

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