Hanging on and offering a helping hand…

Marianne Riou

March 2020 is a month that will go down in history and French houses have closed their doors, like many others before them. With this painful coronavirus crisis, the world is discovering something that we were not prepared for. Everybody’s health is and will remain the priority. In the first few days and then months to come we will learn more about what lies ahead. For a while our habits, our lifestyles and ways of working are going to be shaken up. Today, Rubel has decided to offer you an unusual article that addresses a different subject matter from our general fare…

The crisis and self-isolation means that we are all at home, trying to limit the damage in the hope of keeping as many people safe as possible. Our families have never felt so important or been so in need of protection. Now we are working from home with the children there as well, who you need to care for and, of course, educate, our daily lives are quite out of the ordinary and unpredictable. You find yourself answering a WhatsApp message from a colleague or partner, whilst revising the ten times table with one child, telling the time in French (or English) with your oldest, reading a story to your youngest, making a meal and wondering whether it is possible and wise to pop out for a loaf of bread (a “baguette” for us)…

To sum-up, we all need to play our part (did you hear that LVMH is going to make disinfectant hand gel free of charge?), virtual social helplines, and encouraging and supportive messages are everywhere, and we have decided to share with you some practical information and tips that we have picked up from the French media.

How do you work from home?

All companies are now encouraged to ask their employees to work from home, in everybody’s best interest. Business cannot stop, that is for sure, but how can you work from home efficiently? Structure your days, dress smartly, contact your colleagues when you start work, set up a desk, choose ad hoc means of communication, take a proper break, etc. Here is the advice given in an article (in French) from Le Monde, Dix astuces pour télétravailler (à peu près) dans la joie et l’harmonie (Ten tips on how to work from home [pretty much) happily and in harmony). On the same subject, a video from French news radio station France Info recommends pretty much the same things: S’habiller, s’imposer des horaires… Comment bien vivre le télétravail ? (Get dressed, fix yourself a timetable… What is the best way to work from home?).

This article from Madame Figaro encourages you to slow down and helps you to find the best solutions to manage your teams remotely with peace of mind: Coronavirus : comment garder son sang-froid et télétravailler efficacement (Coronavirus: how to keep your cool and work from home efficiently).

And, because it will be useful to you in the current context, you can look to Marie-Claire to learn to manage your stress: Comment évacuer le stress : les techniques pour une relaxation immédiate (How to release your stress: techniques to relax quickly). You can also download the application Respirelax and program it to match your heart rate: 5 minutes /5 seconds, etc.

Working… and looking after your kids

This is no simple task. The French Ministry of Education expects parents to “home school” their children. As most of us do not have teaching qualifications (and as the online platforms to share lessons are saturated due to a lack of bandwidth), parents find themselves really ill-equipped. This article from Madame Figaro takes a look at this issue, which you need to consider with a sense of humor: “C’est loin d’être des vacances” : dans le quotidien des parents en quarantaine avec leurs enfants (“It’s nothing like a holiday”: daily life for parents in quarantine with their children) and gives you some tips for meeting this challenge.

In France, the CNED (the French national center for distance learning) has set-up the “Ma classe à la maison ” (my home classroom) platform that helps to “ensure continuing teaching” with lessons, activities or videos planned for roughly 4 weeks, from primary to high school. It costs just the subscription to the site.

And what about screen time?

For adults and children alike, part of our day will be spent on our computers, tablets and smartphones. We might as well try to use them wisely and use the fun and educational resources that are available both for youngsters and ourselves. The radio station France Inter has made a selection of smart activities, podcasts and videos: Coronavirus, écoles fermées  : notre sélection de choses intelligentes à montrer à vos enfants sur des écrans (Coronavirus, schools are shut: our selection of intelligent things to show your children on screens)

You can also listen to les Promenades imaginaires du Musée d’Orsay (imaginary tours of the Musée d’Orsay), which offers stories (in French) for small children, inspired by paintings in the museum… as well as the stories and audio series in French (including concerts) for children from France Culture (Peter Pan, Asterix et la zizanie [Asterix and the Roman Agent], Le Petit Nicolas, etc).

Other tips for French speakers:

  • Tu mourras moins bête from the channel Arte, very short programs in which Professeur Moustache and his assistant, Nathanaël, explain the scientific phenomenon around us.
  • Le coin des Ados, again from Arte, with series, news broadcasts, reports, etc. for teenagers!
  • Strange Stuff and Funny Things, videos and articles making science easy and, as you might expect, looking at strange and funny subjects…
  • Chasseurs de Mondes (Planet hunters): a French documentary about the search for exoplanets with Swiss astrophysicist Michel Mayor…

Reading and staying active!

For the moment, we can still order books and get them delivered to our homes (without contact with people of course). And what better way than reading to unwind, look on the bright side and take your mind off things? If your own stock is insufficient, head to the websites of big brands (in France, local book stores sadly will not be able make deliveries from 5 pm on Tuesday) to fill your shelves.

Many other activities are available from your sofa or your living room: creative activities online (Artesane – sewing, knitting, embroidery, drawing as a family, which are all at a simple level—in French), sport, meditation (Petit Bambou, @lilibarbery), cooking, etc.

To finish, here are a few simple exercises, in video, from the France3régions website, which you can do everyday: Coronavirus : petits exercices physiques simples à faire avec ses enfants en confinement (Coronavirus: simple physical exercises to do with your children in self-isolation)

And, to stay true to our usual subject matter, here is a little tutorial on how to make origami diamonds to decorate your home-office: origami diamonds.

This brings to an end our little “feel good” article, which we hope will warm your heart and give you some real help. We are still here and we will continue working as best we can, with bags of good humor.

Open your windows – we can still do that! –, smile and take a deep breath of the first spring air that offers us hope and renewal.

Source Rubel & Ménasché

Photo © iStock – ma_rish.