Slowing Down in the Lockdown
The last six months have been a rollercoaster ride of maddeningly slow and lightning-fast days. At the beginning of the pandemic, when we were stuck at home 24/7 with no light at the end of the tunnel, the days dragged on and on. I felt claustrophobic in my home and exhausted by my family.
I’m an introvert who needs that alone time to recharge. Suddenly, time alone was nonexistent and I completely felt that shift in my life. We all had too much time on our hands and too little to do. My family likes to get out and about as much as possible. We rarely sit at home. We enjoy being busy!
It took some time to adjust to this massive slowdown in our lives. We had to learn how to rest. And it was exactly what we needed.
We started playing games together. We hung out in the back yard. We watched fun game shows on TV. We started a weekly family movie night.
Suddenly we weren’t too busy or overcommitted to spend quality time together. What a summer it was!
Then the fall came, and school began. Sort of.
Where we live, the only option is virtual school. No one is allowed in the classroom until the Covid numbers go down. So I have a kindergartener and a second grader learning from home. They each have a school-provided laptop, daily live meetings with their class, and multiple assignments on the computer.
Did I mention I also work from home, running my own business as a copywriter?
That is A LOT to balance. I found myself literally running back and forth between my two kids, trying to help them log in to Zooms and figure out how to work different computer programs. I squeezed in my own work during their “recess” time or after they went to bed. I washed dishes and folded laundry while trying to help with math assignments. At night, I dreamt about missed assignments and lost clients.
I spent the first two weeks in a constant frenzied state, trying to make it all work and constantly complaining about how hard it was. I was BUSY. But was I productive?
There’s a difference! We can be busy all day long and still not accomplish much.
I was completely winging it… trying to squeeze all these things into each day without any real plan. I was exhausted and run down by the end of the first two weeks. No one in my house felt any joy. We were in survival mode.
But I don’t accept that for my family. I want us to thrive, not just survive!
So I reassessed what we were doing and decided to be more intentional. I wanted to get back to that slower pace from the beginning of the lockdown. I wanted to actually enjoy my time with my family instead of constantly wishing they’d get back in the classroom and out of the house.
How could we be more productive and less busy?
I started by accepting a slower pace with my business. I can’t take on as many clients as I’d like to right now, and that’s ok. (I fully recognize how blessed I am that I can make this choice financially.) This season is different from any before it. My kids require more of me than they have in years. I don’t want to shrug that off or think of it as a burden. What a blessing that I get to watch my kids learn and grow. I get to see first-hand how smart they are and how much they love school!
I also changed the way we get our schoolwork done. My own preference for getting work done is to pick a few hours out of the day, put my head down, and plow through all the work until it’s done.
That doesn’t work for young kids! They can do one or two assignments and then they need a break to play and get the wiggles out. This might mean we stretch their school work out longer than I prefer… but their little brains function much better when we do it this way. So we’ll do one or two assignments after breakfast and then they’ll go play outside for a bit. We’ll get another assignment done before lunch and then they’ll play with their Legos. Then we’ll try to finish up by mid-afternoon so they can play until dinner.
The last thing that needed help was my opinion of housework and how/when it needs to get done. The nonnegotiable things like dishes and laundry still need to get done daily. But almost everything else can wait until the weekend if need be. And I can ask my husband to pitch in too. The world won’t end if I don’t get a chance to sweep the floor or clean the toilet today.
If I can relax my thoughts on “how things should get done” each day, I can get back to enjoying the slowdown of the lockdown, like I did in the summer. I don’t want to view this season as a punishment or hardship. Sure, it’s more difficult and demanding than your typical back-to-school time, but it’s not impossible and it doesn’t have to be a burden.
We can be more intentional with our priorities and our thoughts about each day and still find joy in it all.