It’s been three weeks of shelter-in-place. We’ve evolved from the shock of the initial adjustment to taking each day as it comes. For anyone who knows me, sporting such a cavalier attitude is rare.
We realize that at this moment, we can’t change what’s happening in the world. People we know have lost loved ones, and family and friends who are healthcare providers on the front lines put themselves at risk every day. But we can empower ourselves to make the most of the things we can still control.
We’ve had time to reflect, to enjoy a slower pace of life and each other.
We’re all learning new skills and doing what we can for others.
We’ve used technology to carry on our lives and become closer with family and friends around the world even though we are apart.
I love what I’ve been seeing on Facebook. From recipe exchanges and beautiful sunsets to virtual weddings and living room concerts, people are trying to cheer each other up and cherish moments despite the separation. Celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, getting a glimpse into everyone’s home. I’m witnessing the strength of the human spirit and our infinite capacity for creativity, friendship, and hope.
As parents, we are learning what the gift of time can give us. We can start difficult conversations and have time to work things through. We can take more time to model social skills, coach and develop coping skills and talk about how what we do or say makes people feel. We laugh and share stories that our frenzied lives did not allow time for before.
Time allows relationships to build and grow. The kids have had the time to find compromise and negotiate win-wins. There’s time to appreciate and understand each other and demonstrate mutual respect. They’ve learned to make do with what we have and not complain. I wonder how long this will last?
This week I asked other moms in my community how they are coping. Although everyone’s been dealt a few frustrating moments during the past three weeks (who hasn’t?), moms described their special little moments in this way:
“My kids are seeing a ‘new mom’ because they see me when I’m working as well as when I’m not working. And I get to see them during their day — when they are with their friends and when they are working with their teacher. I’ve never gotten a glimpse into this part of their lives.”
“My child has expressed curiosity in epidemiology. What makes you sick and how do vaccines work? It’s been a wonderful opportunity to have a discussion about what scientists are doing to help at this time.”
“We’re planning a date night, where the kids create the menu and serve the meal.” There are more creative ideas about festive mealtimes on this list.
“We have a few conversation starters that have gotten everyone talking. Like how the economy works, or how to 3D print protective gear.”
“I get to watch my kids socializing with their friends during the day.”
“My kids are getting a better understanding of each other and finding ways to enjoy each others’ company. It’s like being on a multi-week retreat.”
“My kids have learned to clean a bathroom.”
Some children have experienced anxiety and fear about getting sick, both themselves and others. The best advice I’ve heard is to acknowledge their concern, talk about what’s being done to fight the disease and take care of people, then turn their thoughts to the things they can control.
We can’t change what’s happening in the world. But we can empower ourselves to take action and help where we can.
Last week I listed out “helping others” projects we were researching or those that were suggested to us. I’m happy to report that we made progress. A friend was asked to make masks for our local hospital, and supplied us with fabric and materials. We were given a pattern and got to work. Once we got everything set up and everyone organized, we estimate it took us .25 man hours per mask. Not bad for amateurs. They were far from perfect but fully functional.
In addition to supporting those who need our help, we can also help each other find new passions and explore new interests.
When we emerge from shelter-in-place our lives will be different and hopefully changed for the better. And I pray that we can take what we learned about ourselves and each other to make the world a better place.