Reimagining the new-normal in a home is not an easy thing to do. and yet in the face of Covid-19, every home in the world, transitioned to mean many things. It was not just that sweet home for resting, or relaxing after work, or the place for the evening or holiday meals for kids, it transitioned to mean an eatery, a place for chicken, dogs, cats, a hostel, a ward, a school, restaurant, office, and a sacred space for religious practices for 24 hours for sevendays as long as social distancing and lockdown was still being implemented.
Everything new comes with teething problems. transitions can be easy while others impact heavily and cause mass trauma. this is what Covid-19 has done to our home. changes had to be done to homes for it to meet the emerging needs of the sick, family food, medication and hygiene.
home and hygiene: Homes have for the last 6 months transitioned into new shared spaces and this had caused some discomfort. what people were used to in the home completely changed with responses at individuals, family and societal levels. to begin with family was interrupted with new guidelines on how to maintain hygiene. soap, water, social distancing, and masks. this meant that cleaning detergents, soaps, toilet papers and paper towels were to be increases to meet the need of the new WHO and ministry of health Kenya guidelines. children who were in schools in my country were send home to keep them safe from the virus. this also meant provision of food to children at home. this was very difficult for children who were fed in schools and did not have meals at home. for them it meant starving at home.
Offices in Homes: for the parents who were home, they were forced to hive-off part of the home to make them offices. imagine mummy's office, and dady's office in the main house. this would make them do the assignments they carried from their offices. It was very challenging for mothers to balance between the chores and office work. for fathers to work from under trees while looking after goats, of cows was equally challenging.
home as school: . With learners in the homes, learning had to go on. schools gave students assignments and hence continues working on them while home.parents who never had school time, were forced to home schooling. students found it hard to balance between being t home with TV, Phones and good food all day. but they slowly struggled to adjust and remembered they will still be assessed. At the same time, candidates were under a lot of pressure remembering that they were left with four months before they sit for the final end of primary school (KCPE) and end of secondary school (KCSE) national examinations. learners were used to do group discussions but now those who were in different classes and different schools found it hard to discuss some of the topics that were not clear to them. some opted to ask older siblings or their parents. parents were also aske to work from home.
home as a ward: some members of the family became sick and the first point of healthcare before hospitalization became the sweet home. the part of the house and home that house the COVID-19 family patient was cut -off from the main hose. specialized care and hygiene measures of soap, water, masks and use of the washroom had to be put in place to prevent other members of the family from being infected. and in the event that one had travelled, he or she was to be quarantined for two weeks in the home. the home slowly turned into an hospital ward for monitoring. those who were infected were taken to hospitals, but once back home, they were again observed on how they progressed.
intra-personal grief: in the event that a sick family member died, at home or in the hospital, grieving practice in the family ,community, and country was mainly done at the home of the deceased. with Covid -19, drastically changed. Processing of the death, grieving was majorly done by close family member and friends and workmates and area-mates was reduced to private mourning. . homes unlike in the past were places of visitation and comfort to the family but due to social distancing and lockdown, few family members had to re-imagine grieving, to make sense of loss and healing for those who had lost their loved one. It was not business as usual. things have changed and this included change of burial arrangements and actual laying to rest. again, only few people were. churches that organized final rites have also been challenged because burials and dressing are done by the people from the ministry of Health.
Religious place-home Christians, Muslims are finding home to be a sacred space where they can join the virtual church or mosque and participate in the life of their faith organization. priests are also using homes to reach out to their faithful and minister to their needs. I am sure other religions not mentioned here are also participating in their religious lives while in their homes.
when all these things are going on, it is evident that many feel stressed up and still find the home to be a place to release their pressures, both positively and negatively. those men or women, but particularly men who failed to release their stress in healthy ways, beat up their children and wives. constructive stress release saw home a place to jog, skip ropes, do press-ups, listen to music, rest under tress, or have hot showers. you will agree with me that homes have dome more than that.
Appeal: With time,families gradually are appreciating the new-normal home that means so many things for the family. it is my prayer that now that we know the home is having many needs, we continue to appreciate and reimagine this sacred space that means our comfort, our joy, our healing our children's education and final success, our salaries, and safety. I hope we will love and value one another in this home so that all members feeL supported, cared for and belong. until we are out of threat of Covid-19, we all embrace our multiple functioning home as our new-normal and we all matter in this new normal, and we co-exist and make meaning in the new arrangement.