We are the lucky ones AND we are starting to crack. As a family that leaned into social distancing in our comfortable house with enough space for all of us that includes a couple acres to get out and play, we are indeed fortunate, but we are also bored and tired of one another. I continue to work, the kids home school themselves (seriously…they got this), and Greg goes about his day working outside and fishing like usual, it appears not much has changed. But we are really starting to miss connection with others, special moments, and something to look forward to. With no clear end in sight, we know this isn’t forever, but it feels never ending.
What do you have to look forward to these days? I know that I’m laser focused on the little things like nice weather to enjoy a walk or maybe a group FaceTime with my friends to get some much needed laughter and support. My daughter’s baking has been wonderful and difficult all in the same sentiment. Her boredom leads to delicious treats and my ever increasing waistline. But I do look forward to the next yummy treat. Family dinner is by far the highlight of my day. With 3 older self-sufficient kids (sorry parents with little ones) it’s sometimes the only point in the day we are all together and we do our best to come up with things to talk about. What was your schoolwork today? Any good battles on Fortnite? What’s everyone watching on Netflix? These conversations don’t always feel easy and are tiresome at best but I still love that we’re all together.
To entertain ourselves, our family decided to do “A Day About You” where every Saturday each one of us decides dinner, games, and a movie for the night while everyone else is dressed like the guest of honor. With only 5 of us the sixth week came to a screeching halt yesterday and we were left wondering, “what do we do now”? That silly and brilliant idea my daughter came up with was giving us something to talk about and plan for, and now it’s over. After my day last weekend, where my family lovingly teased me about my selfie habit while dressed like me, we started to brainstorm what to do next. It’s becoming more and more clear that we want, maybe even need, something to look forward to. Anything that gives us that sense of anticipation, excitement, and provides motivation to push through the not so great parts of our day, week, or life. The fun stuff like parties, sports events, dinner dates, and shows provides us the bait to keep swimming. What’s become evident, as I’ve observed my own life and others, is that we are not so great at just “being”. What I can’t figure out is whether this is because we crave connection or distraction. I’m sure it’s a little bit of both and trying to strike some balance in our lives is most likely the answer. Regardless of how you’re personally coping with this pandemic I believe there are beautiful lessons for all of us in this new world of “six feet apart”. Some of us may be wishing this never comes to an end so we aren’t forced to go back to a life we don’t enjoy. This may be an indication that it’s time to reconsider choices about where we spend time and with who. Others might be crawling out of their skin just waiting for some local official to tell them it’s clear to reconnect so they can stop being alone with their thoughts and get back to the hustle and bustle with a very long to do list. Could be a time to ask why do I crave so much distraction and doing? I find myself flip flopping between these thoughts but I’ve tried to use the “One Word” that I selected for 2020. The word “Surrender” could not have been more necessary, and I’m still trying.
There has been so much written about this pandemic. My inbox is over-flowing with how to lead through, parent through, exercise through, cook through and manage all things through Covid-19. I’ve even written some content myself, check it out here if you’re craving some leadership advice, so I’m not judging. Like you I’m just a little worn out by all the data, news and “how to’s” during this global crisis. Since most of us are bored we keep reading and we keep trying new things to make this, seemingly terrible, situation not so terrible. My thoughts today are not focused on the terrible parts, and there are really terrible things happening. People are dying, that is the worst of it for sure. People are also losing their lives as they know them because they can’t work and are facing massive financial struggle, also terrible. There is grief all around us, major loss, and with no vaccine and no easy decisions many are experiencing anxiety and severe stress. Experts predict suicide rates are on the rise and domestic violence is at an all time high with people confined to their homes. All of this is so overwhelming and I don’t want to minimize any of it, because it is in fact terrible. Something as simple as going to the grocery store is now a task which takes a lot of energy to not infect or get infected by others. I realized how weird this was the one time I let my daughter go with me a couple weeks ago. It was strange to see her and everyone else with masks on trying to stay six feet apart. She has never asked to go again, I think she prefers the bubble of her room and Netflix, who wouldn’t? Staying home, turning off the news and trying to make the best of this seems like a great option when we don’t know what to expect. The only thing that seems guaranteed is that there will be change. Some certainly for the worse, but also we can assume, some for the better.
This post is more directed to those of us that are just getting sick of the mundane aspect of this, we are so freaking bored and even though we love these people we live with I think we’ve all had enough of each other. I have done eleven jigsaw puzzles…that’s E-L-E-V-E-N in 8 weeks. For some reason I had tons of them, probably because we would take one to the beach every year. Apparently, I’ve collected them and grateful for it now. Just spending 5 minutes here, 30 minutes there focused on a few pieces gives me something to look forward to. My daughter has done most of them with me but this last one, which was the hardest for me, I got very little help. And when all was said and done there was a missing piece, like all things in life, not what I was expecting. But just like most puzzles you break them up again (keeping ALL the pieces together people!) and start a new one. What if this pandemic has given us something similar to think about? What if we crumbled up all the pieces and put them back in the box? I’m sure some will still stay connected, you always find those clusters or two that just wouldn’t let go and I think, “do I break them up or give myself a little head start?”. I’m opting for the head start these days. In both puzzles and life.
So, I will continue to make the best of this like many of you. I will FaceTime with those I love and can’t see in person. Read books I haven’t had time to read and organize closets I didn’t even know I had. I want to enjoy all this time I get with my kids even if it’s just walks or taking afternoon breaks to jump on the trampoline, I wouldn’t forgive myself for letting those opportunities slip by. And then there’s my sweet husband. We have quite the rhythm these days with our individual worlds coming together in the evening for some down time and a show. We’ve had one date night of playing cards and watching an R rated movie, might be time to think of another idea. Hard to get creative in your own home with kids popping up all the time. But I think that’s part of this, we need to be really intentional about how we spend some of our time. I can hear it now, “Wow, I wish I could be back in quarantine when life was slow and less complex.” We always seem to want what we can’t have.
The challenge is that without other parts of life, those things we look forward to, we feel like we are running out of interesting things to do and those are also the things we talk about. How do we create those moments both small and big that give us the energy to carry on and deal with all the not so great stuff? I’m still figuring it out but striking the balance of “forced fun”, that’s what we call it around here and letting everyone have their own space. I think we have other things to talk about and to learn about one another during this slower pace of life, I’ve just been on this other hamster wheel for so long I’m struggling to figure out how to jump off and face the calm. Unlearning takes time, so I’m curious once we are on the other side of this, what will be the good things that we take with us? Either way I want to feel the moments, the love, and the energy we have for one another right now. But I’m still left asking, “What do we have to look forward to?”