For many families, stepping out of our normal work and social routines, staying home, and limiting our interaction with the outside world has caused incredible mental, relational, and financial distress. By now, at week 9 (or more, for some of us) of social distancing, I know many parents are feeling overwhelmed with anxiety at the thought of continuing to stay home.
But could there also be a bright side to it?
I went for a walk with a good friend (social distanced of course), and we talked about life as a mom in this new world. Her kids, aged 12, 14, and 18, have been under lockdown with online school for 2 months. When asked how they were doing, she smiled and said she actually loves being home – “Sometimes I’m grateful for having a break from all the running around we used to do.” With all of the baseball, choir, homework, and driving around they used to do in the evenings, they rarely had time to sit down for a proper dinner, and certainly didn’t have time for board games or movies. Lately her daughter has taken to the kitchen making pancakes and even pizza from scratch. “It’s been really nice, to get off the hamster wheel.”
Other parents echoed her thoughts. Sherry’s family, with 3 college-aged kids, has had their entire family at home for 2 months. She says she finds it to be a “treasure of time” – she’s been enjoying kicking back and just being with them once again, knowing that this type of time is rare.
Of course, there are many families who are seeing the other side of this – the added stress of job loss, or managing working from home with young children, or having an elderly parent to take care of. There are certainly issues of anxiety, loneliness, and depression as the latest Kaiser survey has shown.
But this time with family may be something that can act as a buffer to this stress, especially if viewed from that perspective.
I think it’s important that we try to look for the silver linings in this situation where we can. Like the rare opportunity of having time to reach out to a very old friend from high school and catch up after many years, or watching your 13-year-old son make donuts from scratch, just because they have the time to do it.
In the past week, I am grateful that I was able to do both of these things. It was wonderful to talk to my childhood friend after so many years – and my son’s donuts were delicious!
I know that there is incredible stress and anxiety right now, especially since there is uncertainty along with all the other effects of being closed down. But if we could consider using this time off the hamster wheel to just breathe and catch up, maybe we can get something good out of this.