Yes, life is different than it was a few months ago. COVID-19 and the subsequent shelter-in-place mandates have pulled the rug out from under life as we knew it. Social interaction has forever taken on a new meaning, and everyday conveniences we had at our disposal are now measured luxuries. The pain, fear, and unfathomable stories that have become synonymous with 2020 will stay with us forever. We never could have imagined being confined to our homes for this long—yet here we are.
But, is it possible that as we adjust to this way of life, we’re beginning to imagine that there may, in fact, be some very real upsides to this upside-down pace of life?
Especially for families with young children, this definitive time in history does have its benefits. And perhaps it’s not a stretch to say that quarantine could facilitate some of the best times in our lives—if we allow it to.
10 THINGS WE HAVE LEARNED TO APPRECIATE DURING QUARANTINE:
The gift of living slowly and with intention. Six months ago, we were living fast. Our days were multi-functional on every level—but we never stopped to think how much of that were we actually doing intentionally. Many working moms have long yearned to be able to work from home, to spend more time with their children, and to lighten the load of the pressing demands that spread everyone in opposite directions. To really be present and enjoy idle time together. Quarantine has given us this timely gift. Many of us are now eating breakfast and dinner with our children—planning, making, and enjoying those meals together. Our children are the greatest beneficiaries of slow living, and they are masters at living in the moment. If we are conscious of it, perhaps we can acquiesce to an easier pace for the long run.
The gift of living simply. In all facets of our lives, quarantine has given us a back-to-basics mentality and reminded us of what is truly important. We are learning to live with so much less and are reminded of what true necessities are. And, we’ve realized that, contrary to what we’ve become accustomed to, our babies don’t actually need much stuff. As the many economic challenges and physical barriers are compelling us to put more consideration into our purchases, we are all in favor of this shift towards simplicity.
The gift of family bonding. With so much time spent at home, a beautiful opportunity has been presented to make life more interesting together. Whether it be newly born traditions, or simple daily rituals like cooking meals together, families are spending time making memories as a family. Siblings are getting closer and are once again reinstated as each other’s first and most present friends and playmates—albeit at the cost of a bit more squabbling. Parents are learning to be mindful of one another’s schedules, balancing the household responsibilities, and finding ways to spend quality time together—while mourning the absence of their favorite date night. Everyone is getting to know one another all over again, in the most genuine ways. It’s a rare thing.
The gift of being “home,” wherever we are. Many city-dwelling families in are finding opportunities to spend extended time in other places—whether it be back to their hometowns, or in remote places with space for children to run. The idea of getting out of the city for awhile is presently meaningful. While schools, camps, and workplaces remained closed for the summer, there has never been a better time to explore this idea. No matter where families are opting to shelter, the bonus of having little ones during this time is that they are more likely to remember this period of closeness as a wholesome time with their families, no matter where they spent their time.
The gift of reconnecting with nature. We are looking to Mother Nature to get us through this time. The best antidote for stress, never in recent decades has the great outdoors been such a draw. Looking outside the home for fresh air and to explore nature in ways that may have seemed adventurous are now becoming mainstream. With safe air travel in question, good, old-fashioned road trips are finally making their comeback.
The gift of witnessing milestones. In normal times, one or both parents would inevitably be likely to miss their children’s developmental milestones from time to time. This year, with both parents home more often than usual, babies are growing with their parents by their side, every step of the way. These are cherished memories seen live and in person, and for that, there’s no substitute.
The gift of allowing young children to thrive in their happy place. Home is more than just a comfy place. Babies and small children feel an innate sense of control when they are in a familiar environment. It gives them the security needed to thrive emotionally, in a predictable routine, with the people they love and know best. And the comfort of knowing their family is always there with them.
The gift of showing our children what hard work looks like. Every parent is taking on more, and our kids are seeing that with their own eyes. In many respects, they are now witnessing what their parents’ jobs actually look like. And, parents are becoming more resourceful at home. With limited domestic support, threat of food shortages, and ability to access markets, families are conserving more and becoming less wasteful. Leftovers becomes tomorrow’s meals, or part of the freezer supply. Yet another aspect that we anticipate holding onto for the long run.
The gift of children learning lifelong skills. Young children love to be included in chores. Allowing them to explore activities like cooking and gardening helps shape their future interests and valuable skill sets. As if in old-world tribal spirit, they are learning to function as important members of the household, while gaining an innate sense of worth and self-sufficiency. Meanwhile, parents get another tiny set of hands to help.
The gift of meaningful communities. Through meaningful “micro-communities”—neighborhoods, small social circles, or “pods”—families are able to maintain a controlled amount of socialization for their families. They are choosing one another carefully, ensuring benefits for all members of the family, and strengthening their friendships in the process. And, they are finding opportunities to share resources amongst one another. Outgrown children’s clothes, toys, supplies—this recycling of goods is saving money, the planet, and helping make the old, new—all over again.
Alongside our children, we are learning to let our hair down, take it day by day, and let the small stuff go. We will get through the hard times, while finding the beauty in our time together.