During times of struggle and grief, it can be hard to find the light. There is nothing in this post that could diminish the hurt and grief that this pandemic has caused, nor is anything in this post intended to attempt that.
We’ve spent the last year learning how to live differently. From face masks and social distancing to learning at home, we’ve been challenged and had to grow and adapt in unexpected ways. Some of these adjustments have been eye opening for me, and I’m definitely going to keep them long after Covid is a distant memory.
Making time for hobbies
For the longest time, I was terrible about prioritizing non-work creativity. I thrive in creative environments, whether I’m problem solving how to build the best garden trellis, painting, or rearranging a room. When I did find time to do creative activities I enjoy, I’d wait until my kids were asleep or engaged elsewhere. But even though I enjoy painting quietly and without interruption, I was robbing them of seeing my joy, of seeing me as a whole person. So I started bringing out my painting supplies while they were awake, showing them what I’d been working on, and just sharing more of me as a person. By letting them see me do activities I love, I’m showing them that life is more than work and housework. That’s survival. Living is in the things that bring us joy, and sharing that joy with the people we love. I’m learning how to do watercolor, and they’re learning you’re never too old to learn something new, and to make time for things that bring you happiness.
Introducing my kids to the classics
During the beginning of the pandemic, I was struggling with how to explain these big concepts and grownup problems to my kids. In thinking back on what helped me process things when I was little, I remembered Mr. Rogers. I found the original Mr. Rogers Neighborhood on Prime Video and introduced my kids to it. They loved it and we began watching it together. This encouraged me to share more of my beloved shows and movies from when I was little, and we’ve all enjoyed it immensely. From classic Care Bears to the golden age of Disney animation, we’ve delved deep into the ’80s and ’90s.
Becoming a bird person
I can’t say I’ve ever really been a bird person. I can’t say I ever noticed them a lot, other than trying not to hit them with my car or noticing a brightly colored one. But last spring, as we were home all the time, a robin built a nest on the sill of my kid’s window. We watched her build the nest, lay eggs, and the eggs hatch. We watched the parents feed the babies, the babies learn to fly, and then one day the nest was empty. We were all sad to see them go. That’s how we ended up with a bird feeder in the front yard, where we now frequently spy the robins (we claim them as ours, despite not knowing if it’s the same family or not) and other birds visiting, and I’ve even taken photos of birds to try to identify them. I can’t say I ever saw myself doing any of these things!
General outdoor time
As natural homebodies, we’ve spent time and energy creating a place we like to spend time. A lot of our outdoor time was spent in the pool, but we began expanding our non-water based options. We added more raised beds to our garden, created a mulched area around our swing set with free wood chips from ChipDrop, and have gone through a lot of sidewalk chalk. We’ve practiced bike riding, flown more kites, played more family sports and just spent more time outside in general. It’s been lovely. When we were actively in safer at home days, neighborhood walks became a source of entertainment. It wasn’t something we made time for frequently before, but it’s a source of fun for us and our pets. One of my favorite memories from last spring was laying out our beach blanket and sprawling out to watch the clouds, finding shapes and being silly together. Stretching out on a blanket with a book while the kids play on their bikes in the driveway has been a frequent experience lately, and one I want to linger in.
My kids are five and eight, and having them home all the time made me realize they were ready to take on more chores. A short way into Covid days, I realized I was feeling burned out from being primarily responsible for the cooking, cleaning, and entertaining of all the people. We’d already had a star chart for chores that was collecting dust, so I busted it out and purchased a $10 dry erase board from Target. I wrote down what chores need completing each day on the white board, and tasked them with choosing at least one chore per day per child. It’s teaching them responsibility, accountability, and to see the messes that naturally occur from living in a space.
During the past year at home, we’ve learned, grown, and adapted. We baked bread, grew our garden, cut our own hair, learned how to make our spaces work for all our needs, painted, laughed, cried, and rediscovered old favorites. We found strength we didn’t know we had, and we leaned into it. There are some things we will leave behind, but we will carry much of it forward with us.