It’s difficult to gain perspective when we are in the middle of the biggest upset to daily life any of us can remember. If it had only lasted a few weeks, we’d be back to normal. But we’re not. We are nearly a year into this thing called a pandemic, and my flexibility (word of the year) and patience (that thing you’re not supposed to pray for) have been pushed to new limits. Initially, I wasn’t sure there would be many lessons to learn from Covid-19.
As the length of time progressed, I had a choice: allow myself to be tossed by the pandemic winds into frustration and despair, or allow this period of time to teach me in order to adapt and not lose my mind.
That said, my desire is for these insights to help us all review our lives to determine what we need to operate well and care for ourselves so that we can care well for those important to us. Join me in thinking through these five things Covid-19 has taught me (so far):
Lesson #1: I need alone time.
As a work at home mom for the last 18 years, my home is my office and my office is my home. While this situation was not new to me, having my home and office now become my husband’s office and my four kids’ school has affected me. As an introvert who has always needed daily, regular, alone time, I’ve had to figure out new ways to meet my needs for quiet space to work and be alone. Sometimes, I’ll stay up later than everyone else (like I’m doing right now) to find this space or get out and go for walks, work from a bench at the park, or even pay for conference room time at a co-working office.
Finding space to carve out time alone is essential.
Lesson #2: I need a change of pace.
In the span of a week, we Californians were initially asked to stay at home unless we were going to the grocery or getting medicine. None of us have ever been required to plant ourselves at home and not leave for such a demanding time period. While I love being at home, it was very hard not to take any weekend trips or make any family visits. Early on, we made our kids take whole family walks; we played more board games; we even baked together. But not going anywhere outside our town started getting to me. By November, it was head out of town or bust. We were able to reserve an AirBnB rental home and enjoy the Central Coast a bit during Thanksgiving week, which was a huge sanity saver.
Times of exploration and discovery are essential to feeling energized and creative.
Lesson #3: I need a simpler schedule.
I know this might sound crazy, but when activities started getting canceled one-by-one in March, I breathed a sigh of relief (when my family wasn’t looking). With four kids each doing at least one activity, the schedule gets harried in a hurry before I book any activities for myself. While I love watching them, I don’t always like being an Uber driver 20+ hours a week. Let’s just say that all of a sudden having a slower pace with fewer items on the calendar really works for me. I do love watching my kids play their sport and perform at dance recitals, but having fewer activities on the schedule feels refreshing. As our city opened back up, our kids had modified, shorter practices. As a family, we began to relish multiple nights a week where we could watch a show together, play a game, or read.
Having a slower pace of life feels freeing and refreshing.
Lesson #4: I need regular time with my husband.
Although we’ve been co-working in the same dwelling with all four of our kids for many months now, co-working isn’t the same thing as dedicated time together to reconnect and work on our marriage. I have to admit, the start of Covid-19 wasn’t awesome. We had more arguments in the span of a few months than I can count. But then something happened as we tried to talk things through, learned to give each other space, and began to go on more long walks. We got used to the flow of work, play, and cohabitation all mashed up together. Without other distractions, we had chunks of time to reconnect. We found a new TV series to stream. We played with our kids more. We did home workouts more. I can honestly say now that I’m not as afraid of being empty nesters; if we can survive the pandemic together, we can do anything together.
Making time for your spouse can be the difference between having a happy home, or not.
Lesson #5: I need worship.
As a part-time worship leader and musician, this season has been hard. I usually participate in leading worship at least once a month. With the shutdown of churches everywhere, I started experiencing “worship atrophy” and feeling distant from this creative side of myself. I had to be more intentional about reaching out to help where I could, and also to take time to worship from the seat at my own piano (or while walking with a worship Spotify playlist on my phone).
Carving out intentional time to worship God is vital and life-giving.
While many are bemoaning the year 2020 and looking forward to kicking it to the curb, I can see God working. I see the ways this pandemic has caused me to sit up and take notice of others, of my family, and of myself. For each of the ways this year has ravaged, hurt, taught, or blessed you, I pray this prayer:
May God richly bless you, keep you from harm, hold you up when you’re down, hold you close when you’re low. May God draw you near, may he cover you with his wings, may his son, Jesus, whisper “you are loved.”
[Stay tuned for 5 More Things Covid-19 has Taught Me]