While quarantine has been hard in many ways, there have been invaluable lessons we can make a permanent part of our lives.
The months of isolation in quarantine have been hard for so many reasons. We miss friends and family, we mourn for the milestones and important events we’re missing, and we might be overwhelmed by distance learning while working full-time—and that’s just if we’re lucky enough to still have jobs and be able to work remotely. Yet as the warm summer months bring back a semblance of “normal,” we might consider which parts of sheltering in place have been an unexpected boon.
Writer Dave Hollis wrote, “In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.” It’s a question worth pondering. These parts of our “new normal” in lockdown might be worth keeping around.
1Unstructured independent play time for kids.
Kids getting more down time at home, instead of rushing from school or daycare to extracurricular activities and events, is not the worst thing. For many, it’s a refreshing change of pace.
Experts have been sounding the alarm for decades that kids needed more free time to just play, as can be seen in this report:
Despite the benefits derived from play for both children and parents, time for free play has been markedly reduced for some children … [because of factors like] a hurried lifestyle, changes in family structure, and increased attention to academics and enrichment activities at the expense of recess or free child-centered play.
Open-ended play “contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children,” and even boredom leads to creativity. Opening up space for carefree timelessness in children’s daily schedules is one thing it would be good to maintain as life goes back to normal.
Making time for play is so critical, in fact, that a panel of experts is urging school administrators to prioritize play over academics as they reopen:
At this time, many children’s emotional health will be suffering due to loneliness and isolation. As experts in children’s mental health and development, we urge the government to prioritize children’s social and emotional well-being in all decisions related to the easing of lockdown restrictions and the reopening of schools.
2Meals together as a family.
Before the lockdown started and my husband started working from home, he had not eaten lunch with us on a weekday in years. Unfortunately, we didn’t always eat dinner together as a family either; if one of us was traveling or had to work late, or the kids had an event or activity, we often ate dinner separately or on the fly.
Lockdown is giving many families the chance to have a slow-paced dinner together every night, and often breakfast and lunch together, too. We also may be spending more time in the kitchen, cooking together and trying new recipes. Hopefully when lockdown ends, we can be intentional about keeping this going.
3Appreciation and gratitude for life's small pleasures.
Meeting up with a friend for coffee, going to play at the local park, getting a haircut … Usually these normal daily activities are no big deal, but after months of lockdown, they sound like dreamy indulgences. Being able to have genuine gratitude for these small gifts is one part of lockdown we can be mindful of when it’s over.
Surely there are many other lessons we’re learning from lockdown and want to put into practice. As businesses reopen and life goes back to what we’re used to, let’s give some thought to which parts of lockdown we want to make part of our “normal.”