Social distancing, self isolation, quarantine – these words don’t exactly give you the warm fuzzies. Despite the extremely important role these words have to play in ensuring our safety, it’s starting to feel like we’re all orbiting around our little universes and drifting further away from shared experience. Communal living in a pandemic may present a unique challenge but when your household is as varied as the cast of Tiger King, an amazing opportunity presents itself.
Our Plaistow Head Guardian, tech whizz and all around DIY genius James, showed us exactly how guardianship should be done.
So here is…
James’ Guardian Guide to Making the Most of Unprecedented Times
Step 1: House Dinners
Ever heard of “too many cooks”? When there are 12 people in the house each with their own agenda in the kitchen, things can get busy. For our Plaistow guardians, James said the ultimate life-saver was cooking and eating together. Not only does this ensure everyone touches base with another human during the day, but it also means that the guardians can buy in bulk and cut down on costs. With a rota for chef and sous chef of the day, no one is overburdened with responsibility and no one is stuck eating chicken nuggets every day.
Step 2: House Proud
When you live somewhere for a while it’s easy to get settled into your established space and forget the latent potential in those nooks and crannies you walk past every day. James and his fellow guardians have not fallen into this trap. To date they have:
- Created an office work space for people working from home, helping ease the burden on communal spaces and offer a quiet zone.
- Cleaned out the shed to create a workshop that is well stocked with tools and materials.
- Arranged the living room aka cinema room to accommodate all 12 guardians for movie marathons (nothing like a Tarantino marathon to kill time).
- Cleared an inordinate amount of green waste to better enjoy this unbelievable spring weather.
Step 3: Pump up the Jam
By repurposing a crazy variety of buildings, the living spaces available through guardianship are often so much more extensive than those available in traditional renting. Our Plaistow property has the unique feature of a full playground, a basketball hoop and it has a lot of space. For the Plaistow guardians this space meant one thing – a ping pong table. A communal effort acquiring the table has resulted in a sharp increase in guardian competitiveness and we have some hopeful late entries into the deferred 2020 Olympics table tennis competition.
There is daily Yin Yoga in the morning which has an incredibly good turn out every day. James found the Yin Yoga especially helpful as sitting at a computer all day, especially at home where the ideal work conditions can be hard to reproduce, has been hard on his back. After a spot of yoga, a work out in the home gym or a circuit in the garden, our East London guardians channel the spirit of Michael Jordan as the abandoned basketball hoop gets a daily dunking.
Step 4: Huh, You’re Pretty Good at That
NBA Jam aside, we have some incredibly talented people living at this property who are really good at what they do. With this extra time together James and the guardians have arranged a skill swap to get a free education out of a bizarre situation. This property has a disproportionate number of tech savvy people and one guardian has been working on COVID-19 quarantine game so being a guinea pig has been a great team bonding exercise.
On the skill swap timetable these guys have: Game Design, Open mic night, carpentry, bike workshop, choir practice, coding workshop, cinematography + editing. That’s just for 2 weeks! Watch this space, after the lock down lifts the most capable group of guardians will be emerging.
Step 5: Pull Together
As the global situation has changed, so too has life in Plaistow. James told us of the early days of the pandemic when he and some other guardians fell ill. He recalled his gratitude to his house mates who brought him food and continuously checked in on him. Checking in is the most important part of these isolation times. No one is going to be happy every day during this period. Being cut off from friends and family is immensely difficult and James and the Plaistow guardians have found it vital to check in with each other as they all adhere to their strict no-guest policy. Try to go beyond a casual “how’s it going?” and make sure your housemate has the space to talk if they need it.
We are constantly amazed by the ingenuity of our guardians, and we are grateful to them for leading by example by being safe and taking care of each other. There are no two ways about it – quarantine is hard. But by taking steps like James and the Plaistow guardians to help each other and improve each other can make it that much more doable.