Monday 23 March 2020

Do you know the five love languages ?

If you are in self isolation or social distancing like a good sort it might be useful to know these. After all with nothing to do outside the house other than queue for toilet rolls (stop that by the way !!) what else can we do other than find ways to make the best of this societal 'hard reset.' Social media is often maligned, but at the moment it's proving amazingly supportive and informative. Just today my kids have joined in with an online PE class with Joe Wicks, they've taken an online art class and will be joining in with an insta chef making flatbreads later. We are an active family and we love going out and doing things either together or with other people. Being enforced to stay indoors - which is the safest thing to do and you must, must, must listen and do this by the way - is making us find creative ways to keep ourselves occupied. 

1. Words of affirmation - using words to build up the other person. This is where I have often struggled. Sarcasm is my main form of communication so even if I am being sincere it might not be believed. I can be eloquent by message where I am just a bit flippant in person. Examples of this might include, "Thank you for coming to see me. It means more than you know." 

2. Gifts – pretty self explanatory, but often it is the thought behind the gift. Say I walk past a shop with someone and admire a scarf in the window. If they then go back and get it for me that is a touching gesture that shows they really took notice. When gifts are given instead of actual human contact it can feel like the love is being 'phoned in' but you know each to their own. 

3. Acts of Service – doing something for the one you love. This might be cooking a meal or washing dishes if you share a house. In my case it's likely to be a playlist I made for you or bringing you a cup of tea. This one appeals to those of us who like to 'do things.' It's also the basis of pretty much all the volunteering I've ever done. 

4. Quality time – giving your undivided attention to someone. Under usual circumstances this would include taking a walk together or sitting on the couch with the TV off – talking and listening. That intense level of attention that isn't marred by chatting to all and sundry around you - feeling as if you are the only two people in the world in that moment. 

5. Physical touch – this is obvious really. Holding hands, hugging, kissing of course, but also stroking my son's face while he sleeps, putting an arm round my kids while we watch a movie together. I love this one as anyone who knows me will tell you. I will always go in for the hug, rather than the handshake. 

With the situation as it is now we have to find ways to express love that don't risk our loved ones coming to harm. 

We have stayed in contact with grandparents using WhatsApp. Kids video chat them every few days - and it has the added bonus of me being able to police that my parents are staying at home like they are supposed to !! At the end of every call they say, " I love you" and it means that my parents get to see the kids even if we can't go over there. My older son has a phone to keep in touch with the grown ups in the family. He sends messages and I love how cute he is at sending me - I love you mum (heart emoji) messages. I know it won't last, so I'm enjoying it while I can. 

One of my friends posted on Facebook today that someone had left oranges on her doorstep today. She has been unwell and it made her day. What a lovely thing to do. At the weekend we knew that our neighbour wouldn't be seeing her family for Mother's Day and it made her sad to be on her own. So we bought her flowers, a bottle of Prosecco and some nice chocolates. We stayed the required distance from her when we took them to the house and she was delighted. We've also agreed to add her to FaceTime so she can chat to my boys while she is in isolation. 

Acts of Service: 
So many people are now having to stay indoors to keep safe and with the stories of shops being swarmed and shelves empty it's making things difficult for those who cannot get out to buy groceries. Communities are forming WhatsApp groups to stay in touch and provide shopping for those who cannot go out. Our local group is also offering support to those who live alone via a chat by phone or video. I hope this is an initiative that stays long after all this is over. 

Quality Time: 
Well this one is making me laugh. The phrase, 'be careful what you wish for,' springs to mind. My friend Gwen and I have discussed - at length - how much we would like to spend more time with our kids. We both work full time and our kids don't often see us as fun, but practical and routine delivering parents. Well now we have all the time in the world with our little darlings. I am squarely blaming this on her though - she's practically a witch !! Seriously though, I have seen a surge in activity and contact from people whose "busyness" was their main character trait. With no sports, theatre, gigs and little work to do it's all "Hey girl." I am laughing, but I do hope this increased attention to the low priorities in life isn't a temporary thing. Maybe a re-evaluation of what matters will be a positive outcome from all this ? 

Physical Touch: 
Handwashing aside, this one isn't that simple to achieve right now.  Being someone who loves this I am struggling with not hugging or kissing (and that was even before social isolation !) so I'm finding ways to keep myself feeling loved. Meditation, yoga and warm socks and blankets to 'self soothe.' Ok it's not the same as actual physical contact, but you know what, it will do for now. 

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