We are living in a time full of complicated decisions, news and feelings. But for those of us fortunate enough to be staying home during this Coronavirus pandemic, our lives have gotten much simpler in many ways. With fewer choices, I’m feeling less pressure to do everything, and like many families, we are getting back to the basics of what really matters to us. And while I definitely have (many) times each day where the whining and close quarters get to me, I can’t help but feel grateful for this time.
On a normal weekend and even some weeknights, my husband and I feel the pressure to get out of the house and take advantage of living in a great city. There are so many restaurants and breweries to try, hikes to go on, experiences we want to give our kids. We want to catch up with friends and hear jokes and stories we haven’t heard 20 times already. We want to feel like we haven’t wasted the free time we have together.
But being home because of the coronavirus has taught us that time together at home isn’t wasted.
We have to stay home, but we also get to stay home. I get to look around me and appreciate our roof and four walls. I get to appreciate the backyard and playroom and pile of toys my kids got for Christmas that I thought was too much. Better yet, my husband gets to be here, slow down and appreciate it all with us. And it’s not lost on us that not everyone can work from home or stay out of harm’s way or continue making an income.
This forced simplified lifestyle has made us prioritize what’s important to us. Getting outside every day, keeping things light and normal for our kids as best we can, having fun as a family, making each other laugh. We have the time to go at our kids’ pace and give our son a little more control over the day (which means looking for snails, standing in puddles and making messes). We have the time to notice the funny little things the kids do, the new ideas they’re thinking and all the mannerisms they’re picking up from us. It feels like the best parts of my childhood and gives me hope that those are the same feelings my kids will remember.
So many of the pressures I’ve felt as a mom have been stripped down too.
Instead of feeling like I need to broaden my family’s horizons by cooking new foods every week, I feel content with easy meals that I can make with fewer grocery trips. We’re living on tacos, frozen pizza, pasta and breakfast foods, and I’m just grateful to be able to feed my family. After the first week of panicked grocery orders as curbside time slots got pushed farther and farther out, I’ve learned the basics that my family really relies on and that variety is a luxury, not a necessity.
After overwhelming myself with the color-coded schedules and endless lists of toddler activities all over the internet, I found my groove that includes some simple activities, screen time, afternoon walks and tossing empty boxes on the floor for the kids to play with. They get to enjoy their toys, goofing around and just being home with both parents, which is probably their favorite thing anyway.
This situation has also reminded me of the value of face-to-face, voice-to-voice contact with family and friends. I’ve always relied on text, email and Instagram messages to keep in touch, but seeing someone’s face (or kids crawling all over them) while you talk makes you feel so much more connected. I’m seeing the faces of friends who I have only texted in the past couple of years. I’m commiserating with moms while their kids fight over toys in the background. I’m letting my parents entertain my kids while I just hold the phone and relax.
While I will be grateful when everything is safe enough for us to go back to normal, I’m going to hold onto some of these basics and make them a habit. So all my friends should look forward to seeing this face a lot more — and maybe I’ll let you FaceTime babysit my kids.