When things first started shutting down due to COVID-19 in mid-March, most of us assumed we would stay home for a few weeks until it cleared out like the seasonal flu.
Now, it’s May and states are starting to talk about slowly re-opening, but the consensus seems to be that we could be living in an altered state of caution for months yet. The Pennsylvania Secretary of Education even suggested this week that returning to school in the fall seems unlikely.
In the beginning of the shut-down, there was a vacation-like energy in our house. We played board games, watched movies together, and sat outside around the firepit. Once we determined we were not immediately at risk of losing our jobs, we were able to relax a bit and enjoy the time with our family. Still, the worry about loved ones getting ill was always in the back of our minds.
Eventually, our schools were able to organize instruction and I was able to begin working from home. We struggled at first to find a rhythm for schooling and working at the same time, but eventually we worked things out. Fortunately, the workload isn’t overwhelming, although there is still plenty of whining.
We have established some new traditions during the shut-down, which has helped us keep our sanity. Thursday evenings have been designated as a take-out night when we order from a local restaurant in an attempt to support small businesses in our area. Friday nights are our Zoom-with-Friends nights. Each night, we play a quick round of Jeopardy on our Amazon Echo.
Having these familiar habits has helped reduce the cabin fever everyone is feeling.
The highlight of being forced to stay home has been the time it has given our kids to just be kids. Sure, they have schoolwork to do, but their remaining hours have been spent using their imaginations and getting exercise. If I let them use their devices, they would stay on them all day, so I limit them to a few times a day. The rest of their time has been spent playing with toys, inventing games, and running around outside. Their imaginations have been in full-swing and their bodies are getting exercise. They miss their activities and their friends, but they are also experiencing childhood in an unstructured way that is not part of our normal schedule, and for that I am thankful.
Compared to many others, we have been so fortunate through all of this. We will continue to make the most of the situation and appreciate the opportunities it has given us.