The COVID-19 pandemic is claiming more lives everyday. It’s tragic. It’s scary.
Social distancing, too, is hard. It’s lonely. It’s stressful.
But, it’s one more thing. Living through COVID-19 is clarifying. It’s made me think about my life and what’s most important. It’s certainly made me more grateful for many things I took for granted.
In a viral quote shared widely on Facebook and Instagram, author Dave Hollis says, “In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.”
I’m taking his advice and making a short list (below) of COVID’s silver linings, or things I think are worth keeping from this pandemic experience. I’m also making a “toss” list.
More friendliness, neighborliness – I don’t know about you, but my Nextdoor.com has been POPPIN’ during COVID. People are reaching out to help each other. I’ve had neighbors shovel my driveway and bring me pasta when I couldn’t get any at the store. People smile and wave more when out on our walks and jogs. I’ve always wanted a stronger neighborhood community; I never thought it would take a pandemic to get here, but… KEEP!
Better hygiene – Like you I’ve received emails from every store/museum/venue ever with their plans for how to combat COVID-19. Before total shutdowns started, these places were promising to sanitize common areas and promote better hygiene. People are also now very interested in washing their hands well and often. This is in the keep column. This will help people stay well no matter what viruses or bacteria are out there.
More workplace flexibility – Turns out, a lot of jobs can be done from home. This has enormous benefits for workers who prefer telecommuting (especially moms with young kids – I’m in this camp). It can also benefit companies (happier employees, duh) and even the environment. It’s a no-brainer. Of course not every job can be done from a home office, and some people just plain don’t like it. But it’s worth remembering that a normal #WFH scenario include fearing for your health or juggling homeschool (if you don’t want to). Either way, workers should have more flexibility. Keep!
More family time – I get it, we are all sick of our quarantine mates by now. But there’s something special about this time. Necessity is the mother of invention, and by necessity we are all thinking of innovative ways to pass the time together. I don’t know about you, but in this process I’ve stumbled upon some new activities with my kids that surprised me by actually being fun. I’ve also kept better touch with my extended family during this time. I hope you have, too.
Appreciation for hard work and risk – I love seeing videos of people cheering healthcare workers as they change shifts. We’re witnessing a surge of gratitude for all essential workers, and a deeper appreciation for the people who keep our world spinning. There’s food on our table, thanks to farmers, ranchers, truckers, and grocery store workers. There’s energy to cook it with, thanks to energy workers. The list goes on. There’s also a deeper appreciation for the risks that small business owners take. Let’s keep that.
Better kept gardens – OK, this one is both literal and metaphorical. Some folks (I guess if you don’t have kids or they are older than mine…) have had more time on their hands as a result of the stay-at-home orders. Taking care of one’s home means taking pride in it. That’s a good thing. But aside from cultivating a literal garden, many people are using this time to cultivate new skills, enjoy hobbies, or maybe even rest. Americans are some of the world’s busiest people, and under normal circumstances it’s easy enough to fill our days with scheduled activities and other distractions. But there’s something to be said for recreation and rest. In the future, let’s keep that, ideally as our choice.
Fearing for our lives and loved ones – I think this one speaks for itself. Here are my veins, waiting for that vaccine, baby! And of course we’re all most worried about our friends and loved ones at high risk. TOSS this VIRUS in the ash heap of history, please!
Economic insecurity – One result of the lockdown is widespread economic insecurity and uncertainty. The Congressional Budget Office says unemployment may exceed 10 percent. Some estimates go higher. Job loss and pay cuts are already touching so many families. This one is an obvious toss.
Social distancing – I’m not a big hugger, and I understand even absent COVID it’s good to give people personal space, but it’s kind of awkward to stand 6 feet away and yell at my neighbors if I see them out. Also, it’s a great tool, but I’m sick of zoom. I much prefer normal human interaction. Toss.
Staying home all the time – Restaurant food isn’t quite the same without the atmosphere. With young kids, my husband and I rarely went out ANYWAY, but I miss our infrequent date nights out. And as a mom, I miss the park, the library, and the museum. I even miss little kid birthday parties. I miss grown-up parties! Ah, parties… what a happy memory.
Raiding stores/hoarding – Fear is at the root of this one. Listen, I have no problem with people making doomsday preparations. That’s prudent. But panic-buying is different. Panic-buying happens precisely because you haven’t prepared adequately. And of all things, toilet paper? I’d love to know who these people are with stacks of rolls at their house. Shame! TOSS!
Mass homeschooling/school closures – Homeschooling is a great option for some families. In fairness to homeschooling, what’s happening in most homes right now isn’t true homeschooling, but a weird crisis response to sudden school closures. When all schools close, we lose the school as a local institution and community. No high school sports. No after-school clubs. No PTA meetings. Schools are the place where a lot of social problems (like child abuse) are identified and confronted. There will be many benefits when we are able to safely reopen them.