If there's no place like home, why bother leaving the house?
Whether you are an intimidated stay-at-home parent, one who feels alone and perpetuates isolation, or someone seeking refuge from life's problems, this article offers solutions and suggestions for meaningful away-from-home experiences.
When the weather cools and the days shorten, many naturally want to cozy up at home and hibernate. But what about those who get so comfortable at home that they never want to leave? And what of those who become so anxious, overwhelmed, depressed or fearful that they hide away their lives within the four walls of their house? If you or a loved one is in this position, consider the following suggestions.
For the stay-at home parent
When I was raising my young family, sometimes the effort required to get everyone dressed and ready to go out the door, configure car seats and boosters, maintain good behavior while abroad and make it home again hardly seemed worth the hassle. While it may seem easier to stay at home with young children, everyone needs a chance to get out — including the kids. Plan brief outings or day trips with a friend and include extra time for preparation, snack breaks and transportation. Ask your spouse to watch the kids for a few hours so you can do errands, go to the gym or spend time with friends. Trading babysitting hours with another stay-at-home parent will allow you some well-deserved personal time out of the house and help you appreciate your home and family more upon your return.
For those who work at home
With more and more people working from home, one’s house becomes the setting for many and diverse activities. The workaholic who once spent all his time at the office can now work late into the night and early in the morning at home, living next to but not interacting with family members. Those who work from home need to set clear boundaries, delineating certain places and times for work, as well as for recreation and leisure. Even if you work flexible hours, get up and dress for the day so you are prepared to leave the house for lunch, off-site meetings and other events that will allow for meaningful interactions with other people.
For the elderly
One group of people that is often homebound — whether for health reasons, transportation challenges or simply for lack of activities outside the house — is the elderly. If health permits, plan to attend a book club, weekly Bingo game or senior fitness class. If transportation is a problem, make arrangements for friends or fellow worshippers to take you to church or social activities where possible. Children, grandchildren and friends should be sensitive to the needs of their loved ones and, when possible, invite them on outings and activities outside the home. When leaving the house is impossible, beautify the home with artwork, plants and cheery décor. Be generous with invitations for visits from friends and loved ones.
People of any age who live alone or feel they lack friends or associates may find comfort and consolation in their own space at home. While everyone needs a quiet place to relax and reflect, people also need other people. Make a goal to do something social every week. Take a class, join a club or pursue a hobby where you could meet some new people. Even if you go to lunch or read a novel at the bookstore by yourself, getting out and among other people is healthy and rewarding. Try joining a trusted online group to find a friend and then meet in person. Reach out to work associates or neighbors and plan occasional get-togethers. The more you extend yourself, the easier it will be to get out of your own home and enjoy the world with somebody special.
For the depressed or anxious
Sometimes when life becomes difficult or emotions spiral down, people find a hiding place at home. While it seems easier to camp out in the bedroom or in front of the television than to face challenges or experience uncomfortable feelings, doing so only perpetuates the problem. One of the best ways to lift your spirits or alleviate stress is to get out and experience life. Take a nature walk, meet a friend for breakfast or get some exercise, but force yourself to leave your comfortable retreat and clear your head. Often, the only way around your problems is through them, so put one foot in front of the other and get to work instead of isolating or seeking refuge in your dwelling place.
The old adage, “There’s no place like home,” remains true, but home cannot be the only place in your life. There’s a whole world out there to experience and enjoy. Open the door and let life in.