Like many people around the country and world, my family completed our first two weeks of full time working and parenting at the same time. Slumping on the couch with exhaustion, my husband and me (mostly me) discussed feeling overwhelmed as to how this new normal will be feasible long term. We discussed the things that worked and didn’t work and formulated a plan to help approach the next few weeks and months to come.
Although our plans are still in beta, there was one thing we agreed on right away: We got this. Since then, I have kept those three words on repeat in my head. Those three words shifted my approach to the world around me. I’m still anxious, sad, and scared. But I am resolved to approach this whole COVID-19 pandemic with the fierce determination that will make future me proud of who I was during this time.
Below is who I want to say I was after this was all over. I wrote it in past tense and envisioned how I would tell my story two years in the future. When you look back on the COVID-19 pandemic, what kind of person will you say you were?
I was a good partner.
During the pandemic, my husband and I took care of each other. We supported each other when things got hard which they inevitably did – time and time again. We gave each other breaks from the babies so the other could nap. We stayed playful and light when we could. We were serious and thoughtful when needed. We snuck each other pieces of chocolate when the other was in a difficult work meeting. We hugged when we were frustrated. We planned together but also divided and conquered as necessary. We went out of our way to ensure the other had time to video chat with friends, play video games, read a book, or get more work done after the kids went to bed. We leaned on each other when needed and were strong for each other when the other was struggling.
I played with my kids – a lot.
I ran around the living room and marched like an elephant, ant, and any other animal my kids requested. I tickled, hugged, and kissed them often. I listened to the songs they wanted on repeat and sang all the time. I built lego houses and painted pictures. I turned cardboard boxes into cars. My kids sat at my feet with pots and pans as I cooked for the week. When they laughed I matched it. I read them so many books I could recite them by heart. We went in the backyard to play everyday – rain or shine. We watched a ton of tv and didn’t feel guilty about it. We had living room floor picnics. We built forts. We took long naps and snuggled.
I led my team with compassion.
I fought hard to ensure work initiatives were relaxed while everyone psychologically adjusted. I reached out to every employee personally to check in on how they were doing. I protected people’s time and kept meetings as short as I could. I created, encouraged, and supported policy changes and added benefits to ensure our employees felt secure. I made sure my team was recognized for their responsiveness and dedication during such uncertain times. I showed vulnerability so others could feel safe doing the same.
I supported those that needed me.
I was present for others. I proactively reached out to friends, family, and coworkers. I offered my time for anyone struggling. I reached out to those I wanted to reconnect with to ensure they knew they had someone if they needed. I was on video chat – a lot. I paid my house cleaning service even though I wasn’t using it. I did the same with other small businesses that relied on me for as long as I financially could.
I didn’t contribute to the noise.
I recognized that people were being inundated with content from every angle – news, companies, schools, and every other entity out there that admitted to having my email. (Side note: great time to review them all and unsubscribe!) I was personalized and deliberate with my outreaches and I kept my voice educational, positive, and humorous. I was selective with what I shared to ensure I didn’t contribute to the whims and agendas of panic, politicized messages, and misinformation. I tried to limit my social media footprint to content that was thoughtful and supportive of others rather than just “another thing” to add to people’s already crowded minds.
I practiced self-care.
I protected my time and learned to say no to things that didn’t prioritize loved ones, health, and work. I meditated, took yoga, and slowed down. I watched a lot more star trek and read more of my favorite sci-fi books at night. I wrote more. I was kind to myself and removed the pressure I usually put on myself. I threw away the notion of perfection and stopped trying to be super productive or overly neat. If I could, I would. If I can’t, then that’s okay too. I allowed myself to cry, I asked for help when I needed it, and I communicated how I felt.
I stayed calm and focused on what I could control.
When I inevitably got anxious – I allowed myself to feel the moment and then took a step back. I identified what I could control and focused on those things only. I became really good at letting go of the things I couldn’t help and focused my energies on the good I could do to make an impact.
Although I’m unsure whether I will achieve everything I listed above, being able to identify these things and strive for them is something worth working for. When you look back on the COVID-19 pandemic, what kind of person will you say you were?