I don’t really know what to tell you. Every person is so different, and what you need right now, in this time of pandemic, is different from what someone else might need. And some of your needs will change from day to day. Some of you will find solace in a new yoga practice, learning to play the ukulele, and doing virtual museum tours. Others need to take a nap, and snuggle on the couch watching movies.
You might need a good cry from time to time. Or a good run. Some of us need to read poetry and listen to the daily briefings every day at 2 p.m. All of us need to keep getting things done, despite the fact that we’re at home much more of the time and the dishes are piling up in the sink because we’re always home and we’re doing all the cooking and the projects are strewn from one end of the house to the other.
I don’t know what you should do. But I can tell you this one thing. We all need a little kindness right now. When you’re irritated with the way everyone else in your house is doing things and your child is melting down for the umpteenth time today, remember that everything has changed in the last few weeks. Even the grocery stores are different. Your family is feeling it, too. It’s ok to not keep it all together right now.
Now is the time to give in to things. You know how there’s some things that you never, ever do with your kids...not bad things, just conventional rules that you don’t break? But every once in a while you let it go just this one time? Like during the holidays or on birthdays? I don’t know what those rules are for you, but if you find that you’re falling apart or everyone else in your house is falling apart, it might be time to break one of those rules. As a treat.
If you feel like running away, chances are good that others in your house feel the same way. Is there a way to run away together? Can you pull together rather than pulling apart? What might running away look like in this time of pandemic? Maybe you look at each other and say, “I’m tired of this, too. Let’s have a picnic.” And maybe your picnic is in the yard or at the park or maybe it’s on the living room floor. Perhaps, running away is ordering ice cream from one of the local small businesses. Or watching the comedians on YouTube while drinking orange juice out of fancy glasses. Maybe it’s a video call with family or friends...while you’re all watching the same movie?
If you’re a couple without kids, these things still apply. Be kind. To yourself and each other. Let go of something that doesn’t matter. If you’re a single person, living alone, it’s even more important. When you’re tired of everything, it’s time to walk away from the shoulds and the oughts. Break out the fancy glasses and the phone calls or video chat.
Yes, of course, it’s important to find the new routine in daily life now, to eat nutritious food, get some exercise, sleep regularly, and get the work done. To be grateful for one thing every day. To do something for someone outside your family every day. I, personally, have been watching for the routines my family is settling into so that I can reinforce them, keep coming back to the same things. Developing a rhythm helps our brains to rest and eases some of the constant background stress. But it’s also important to let some things go. Maybe even one thing every day. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to each other. We are all fighting a hard battle.
Amy Pass earned her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Bethel Theological Seminary. But perhaps her greatest lessons have come from raising two children and maintaining a 21-year marriage.