It's all we can seem to think about, it's on the forefront of our minds. It's like a big grey elephant standing in the middle of our living rooms. The pandemic the world is facing has all our lives flipped upside down, topsy turvy, flipping through the days like a TARDIS.
But I would be lying if I didn't admit that there are parts of this quarantine life that are right up my alley. I like a slower-paced life. I like making time to stop and smell the roses. I like finding joy in challenging circumstances. I like growing. I like being out of my comfort zone. And I like checking off items on our family to-do list that got ignored because we usually have too much going on. Quality time is my love language.
Change in all things is sweet. (Aristotle)
While this past month has been a whirlwind of change, our past few years as a family have made finding new norms, well a normal part of life. Very different from many of your lives, those of you with predictable, consistent lives. So I thought I would share a few tips I have learned in the past five years, having lived in three different states and survived five different moves.
1. ESTABLISH A NEW SCHEDULE
Maybe you're not a "routine" person, but a certain level of routine is proven to have positive effects. Adhering to a routine allows us to foster habits that match our goals and aspirations. It makes us more efficient (and proficient), reduces our need to plan, creates structure, saves time, instills good habits, prioritizes our day-to-day, builds momentum and self confidence, reduces the need for determination and willpower, and keeps us on track. The easy part is, you can establish routine literally anywhere, at any time. And I think it's especially important for the little ones, who may find comfort in the routine of their young lives.
Good habits formed at youth make all the difference. (Aristotle)
What has this looked like for me? We kept with our normal wake and bedtimes. In the morning, we have our breakfast (and COFFEE) and get dressed for the day. Sure, I might be changing out of my pajamas into a clean pair of joggers, but our teeth and hair are brushed and we're getting ready for the day. Mid-morning we always exercise, so even if how we exercise has changed, we make time to be active. At lunch the boy has his nap (can I get an amen?) and I have an hour or two of quiet "me time" to eat in peace and read. In the afternoon, where we might normally run errands or do something, we play outside, go for a walk, or honestly just survive until 5 o'clock when I can put on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for the boy while I pour a glass of wine and make dinner. The evenings go by pretty much as normal, with the toddler having a 7:30 pm bedtime. And then we start the whole thing over again the next day.
2. HAVE SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO
But monotony can be tiresome. And while routine can provide a level of comfort, it can also be boring (especially when it's confined to one place). So plan something to look forward to. Maybe that's a special trail you've been wanting to explore, or a project, or a new dessert you've been wanting to bake. But don't stop there, pull out all the stops. Plan a picnic for that outdoor adventure. Tackle that project and document the process and (virtually) share your accomplishment with your friends and family. Bake your fancy dessert and serve it with champagne. Have a "spa day" at home, pull out the face masks, nail polish, candles, bubbles, and spa music.
This is where you might have to dust off the cobwebs of your creativity compartment in your brain, but plan it out and make moments special. Take the time to think through what would bring you joy, and those in your home, and make it happen. Because at the end of the day, your life will only be as memorable as you make it.
3. STAY CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITIES
For me, weekly calls and FaceTime dates with my girlfriends have been a life saver. When we first left everyone we knew in Texas to move to Florida, I knew that my friendships would only survive if I invested the effort to make it so. And then when we moved to New York, I knew the same was true. So I suppose, in a way, being quarantined to my home hasn't been all that different from a fresh move to a new town. And I've done that five different times in the past five years.
Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies. (Aristotle)
Despite my introverted nature, my modus operandi (M.O.) these past five years has been to completely submerge myself wherever I am. Be all there. Try all the things. Meet all the new people. Look at every opportunity to build a new community. Because if I don't, no one will do it for me. But now that M.O. must change, mustn't it? Now I must cling to the connections I already have and find ways to invest in them. It's not the same as grabbing coffee or having Happy Hour with a friend, but it's better than feeling isolated and alone. And you'd be surprised how uplifted you could feel after a great FaceTime with a best friend.
Take the photo above for instance. My girlfriends and I planned a Mimosas & MuuMuus Easter Date. We were in four different states, two different time zones. But during our three hour date, we laughed and drank, and eventually prepped our Easter meals together. It did wonders for my heart.
4. BE OPENMINDED
This could be trying something new or picking back up and old hobby (like writing, ahem, hello blog). Remember, you're seeking a new norm. Which means it won't look exactly like your old norm. Of course no one really knew what to expect when this whole Coronavirus thing hit. So much was (and is) unknown, we weren't sure the extent of the quarantine or the timeline, and it's proven to be devastating in many ways.
Maybe you don't like lemons, I don't really. I don't like lemonade, or lemon in my tea or martinis. But guess what? When life gives me lemons, I could make a lemon pie. I like lemon pie. The point is, life may provide you with circumstances that you don't initially know what to do with. But the mind is your most powerful tool. You can chose to have faith, hope and love. Or you can allow panic, fear and sadness to take the lead. The former might take an abundance of effort to maintain, but the latter will come easily as a gateway down a road that's harder to come back from.
You could sit around in your pajamas and unwashed hair binging Netflix for weeks on end. Unless you have children, and then you don't really have that luxury. Or you can look for opportunities to make the most of this season of change.
The energy of the mind is the essence of life. (Aristotle)
So as you search for your new normal, look through the lens of hope, making each day filled with as many beautiful moments as possible. Granted, some days will be better than others, but that was true of your old norm also. But this is your life, make it beautiful in your own way.