If you’re like me and have spent any time in a location that has required a stay at home order where many businesses that you would normally frequent have been shut or changed how they were providing services your life has looked a little different over the past four months. It has given me a chance to really evaluate what I miss and what I don’t miss.
I’ve gone from being happy in “stay at home” mode and climbing the walls in frustration during these past months. I’ve had some really awesome days working from home and mom-ing from home and I’ve had some really terrible ones. Not sure there’s been a whole lot of in between but it has afforded me some time without extra distractions or diversions to really think about what I want in my life as states begin to re-open. What places or outings have I REALLY missed and which ones were just time fillers or money wasters? I even asked the Munchkin what places she has missed during all of this and we’ve realized that there’s actually only a couple places we honestly have missed going to where we have fun and a lot of others that didn’t mean that much to us.
I’m thinking about how I want to craft my summer this year and my life going forward as states begin the process of re-opening. Make no mistake, just because states are re-opening doesn’t necessarily mean that the threat of COVID19 is past but it’s a reality that this is a long haul problem; how are we going to spend the next 18 months or more while the virus is still creeping it’s way through the global health system and our immune systems try to build up some protection from this invader? Some of you may be able to lock yourselves inside, continue grocery delivery and be happy as clams but that isn’t the reality for many either emotionally or economically (still not sure what September will bring us for school) so trying to find sustainable but safe ways to continue working, making connections and being happy is a complex problem that has a range of right answers depending on your own set of circumstances.
The top things I miss during lock down are:
- I miss seeing family and friends in the flesh. Zoom happy hours or dinners are better than nothing (I mean how did people in 1918 do it?!?) but they are barely adequate replacements for me, I miss actually occupying the same physical space, I don’t completely understand why but there really is a difference for me. I miss going out to eat, I miss taking the Munchkin to our favorite local pub (bar sounds so crass when you’re talking about it as a family dinner spot) where she would play shuffle board and the manager would give her tips because she was better behaved than the 21 year olds at 1:00am:We’ve had a few physically distant small outside gatherings with people that have really made me feel a lot better but not sure what’s going to happen once the weather changes and it starts getting cold again. More fire pit time maybe?
- I miss the library. I’ve been able to download some audiobooks and ebooks from their digital collection but there’s something about the way the library smells and feels that is just different. There are two libraries we generally frequent and they’ve been the libraries I’ve gone to my entire life so now introducing the Munchkin to the library has been special. Added benefit during the heat of summer we can go there to hang out for a little while to get out of the house; she plays with the toys and computers while I get a chance to catch a break or read my book in the children’s section. It also has been a way to responsibly share more books with her without the environmental or monetary impact of BUYING new books.
- I miss the Please Touch Museum. This is a museum designed for small children and we’ve had a membership for a number of years. We first took the Munchkin there when she was around 9 months old (she was still a little too young for it) but it has been a source of enjoyment for us over the past three years. It’s also a place where I feel comfortably letting her explore because a. the exhibits are all her size so she can manipulate them without too much direction or control from me and b. it’s hard to get lost at this point because we know our way around it so well. This is one of the places I miss the most but it will also be one of the last places we return to because of COVID and it makes me sad but now we recognize it’s importance to our family and I hope we get to go back before the Munchkin grows out of it.
- I miss physically going to church. While my church has continued services and various forms of connection via digital means I still miss being with everyone in person. While our services may not always been the calmest, most prayerful events there’s almost always something to think about or discuss. Being around the community helps me feel calmer and makes me a better person. Our staff and lay leaders have done an amazing job but it’s still not the same as being with them and having a true UU Coffee Hour. Our choir doing their thing virtually:
Habits that I’ve developed that I want to keep doing:
- Working out at home. Last year the Mr. and I came across some home repairs that needed to be done so it resulted in us tightening our belt financially (which we should have been doing anyway) so I gave up my pricey gym membership that included childcare. I thought that would be my only source of sanity during the summer some days when I could drop the Munchkin off at the gym and get an hour of peace. Over the course of lockdown I have found ways to get exercise in and in some ways more consistently than ever before. Am I going to get ripped (ha! ever?) this way? Maybe not, but 5 push ups a night after the Munchkin goes to bed is better than no push ups and a glass of wine while watching TV; I just had a ton of medical blood work done and I am doing pretty good in the numbers that really count.
- Reading more. I have always had trouble reading because if I get distracted I’d have to re-read the same sentence, paragraph or page over and over again until I can move forward. However as I’ve committed to reading more over the course of the past few years it’s gotten easier for me and now I enjoy reading. I’ve even been able to get the Munchkin to amuse herself while I sat and read a book for a little while. It’s also rubbing off; while the Munchkin can’t officially read she still loves books and will “read” to herself before bed or she’ll “read” to me making up stories that go along with the pictures.
- Eating outside. There was one day where I ate all three meals with my family on our back deck. There are still some days that are too hot and humid to sit outside but it’s a great way to spend a little time outside relaxing because there really is something about fresh air and being outside that feels good (even if ticks and allergies are out to get me).
- Not going out as much. Where I live one of the easiest ways to get out of the house and “do” something is to go shopping. I have always been a gratuitous shopper but during all of this I have really thought about whether a shopping trip was “essential” or not and more times than I can count the answer was not. This lead to spending less money on random stuff as well focusing on what I really do want (or need). I also value rest and relaxation but I sometimes get caught up in the “culture of busy-ness” and COVID has reminded me that busy doesn’t always mean happy.
- When I’m working I’m working and when I’m playing I’m playing. At the beginning of this I struggled with the boundaries of working from home and living at home. Without that separation of physical space I found it difficult to keep the two lines from crossing, especially with a second shift (now third shift) essential other half, but as I’ve progressed through this time I’ve realized the importance of setting up those boundaries of work and play. I am more productive in a shorter amount of time if I just concentrate on what I’m doing when I’m doing it. I’ve been making use of the Pomodoro (or tomato) timer technique and even installed an app on my watch and my internet browser to set my timers. Often I’m “in the zone” that I don’t even stop when the timer goes off until I’ve finished what I’m working on.
As states re-open it doesn’t mean this pandemic is over from a scientific or health stand point but I need to figure out how to live in this new world and figuring out what is important and what isn’t is part of the process. I realize that this is a chance to reset and realign my priorities. Life is a long trip and sometimes course corrections are necessary. We can make those corrections ourselves or we can be forced into them by circumstance but sometimes we just have to make them.