A non-homeschooler’s perspective on sheltering in place

We’re nearly a month into self-isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Life has certainly changed in a number of ways–most notably, much of the country’s workforce that’s fortunate enough to still be working is doing so from home. And kids who hadn’t previously been homeschooling are doing exactly that right now. For most people, the transition has been at least somewhat challenging. And while some days are definitely more difficult than others, maybe it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself…”Is being at home really so bad?”

Now, a couple of things to keep in mind…the reason that we’re home in the first place is a terrible one. We’d all prefer that things be the way they were a few months ago, when we didn’t have to worry about loved ones (or ourselves) falling ill; when we could hug and kiss and shake hands and high-five; when we could go to the grocery store or Target and casually grab whatever was on our lists (including toilet paper) without stressing about whether the items were in stock or possibly contaminated; when we could come and go freely, without wearing masks or gloves; when we could go to work and our kids could go to school.

But I think there’s a silver lining in all of this. Call it making the best of a less-than-ideal situation. There are definitely some positives to come out of all of this, such as:

  1. More time with the family. Think about a typical day, pre-COVID-19. If you don’t homeschool, you probably spent eight to 10 hours at work. The kids were in school for about seven hours or so, not including extracurricular activities. How much quality time did you really get to spend together? Probably not much, with dinner, homework, sports or other activities taking over the post-school, post-work evenings. Those typical days really minimized how much time you can truly spend together as a family. Now? You’re together all day!

    The transition may have felt like 0 to 60 in 1.5 seconds, but this is really an excellent opportunity to bond. Now you’re there to help your kids with their schoolwork, play games, work on projects around the house, take long walks with, and just talk. The insanity of a “normal” pre-coronavirus day just doesn’t allow for these types of things, so take advantage of this strange time–relax a little bit and grow that family bond.

  2. A relaxed pace. If you were accustomed to commuting to a full-time job, hasn’t it been kind of nice to not have to deal with rushing to get the kids ready for school, sitting in traffic for an hour, doing the same on the way home, then scrambling to get dinner on the table and get the kids ready for bed? Odds are you’re probably getting a bit more sleep (no need to wake up for a commute!), you’re preparing breakfast at a much more leisurely pace, and then settling in for the day. Just think about all of that stress you’ve instantly shed–it’s so much more beneficial for your mental and physical well-being.

  3. More “you” time. Wait…the kids and the spouse are home. How do I get more “me” time out of that? Valid question. But consider the time you’re saving by not driving to and from work or running errands. That’s probably at least a couple extra hours that you can dedicate to pursuing your interests or taking care of yourself. More time to work out. More time to cook and bake. More time to paint, draw, complete a puzzle, redecorate, get to all those around-the-house projects you’ve been putting off, read a book, knit, binge-watch Netflix, whatever it is you enjoy doing. Plus, having the husband or wife at home provides you with a built-in babysitter so you can pursue some of these activities without distraction!

  4. Extra time with your furry friends. If you’re a pet parent, you most likely a) hate leaving your buddy each morning and b) hate having to pay someone to walk and play with the dog while you’re gone (probably not necessary for many dog owners, but a reality for me). Now you get to hang out with the pets and save money on pet-sitters…win-win! And it may seem like a trivial thing, but there’s plenty of research proving that stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness levels decrease when people are with their pets. And during an especially stressful and anxious time, with so many people isolated, unadulterated love and undying loyalty from a pet is a perfect cure.

  5. Catching up. Most people are probably in the same situation you are. At home, nowhere to go. What better time to shoot a text or make a call to a friend you haven’t spoken to in ages? There’s obviously plenty to talk about, and lots of time to talk about it. So why not rekindle an old friendship?

Not much has been easy about quarantining and self-isolating. It’s presented just about the entire population with a wide range of problems, challenges, and inconveniences. But part of dealing with this type of stress is searching for and finding the positive aspects of the situation. Personally, I love having the extra time with my family. Do I need some time for myself? Absolutely…everyone does. But I also know that this type of situation may be short-lived (or maybe not, who knows?), so I’m enjoying being with my kids and taking advantage of what this situation has presented me with–after all, it won’t be too long before they’re off to college and I’ll be missing them.

Sure, I miss seeing the rest of my family and friends, but fortunately, we can all use FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, or Google Duo and Hangouts to “visit” each other. Overall, though, I’m using this time to my advantage–more bonding time with my wife and kids, no commuting stress, working on things around the house, hanging with the dogs and cats, and just appreciating what I have in life.

What are you enjoying about being home? Share in the comments below!