Do you go into each new day thinking, great, it’s a day? It’s not Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, it’s just another day? For many of us – working or not, parents or not, living with other people or not – each day is just another day. How do we differentiate one day from the next other than “I pick up Chipotle every Thursday” or “I talk to this person every Saturday?” We really can’t.
In Chicago, we have been in quarantine since the middle of March. My husband was told to work from home the week of March 9th and my children had their last day of in-person school on March 16th. It is now 12 1/2 weeks later and we are still in exactly the same boat. None of us has had any real alone time or activities outside of our immediate family.
I love my family very very much and there is no one I’d rather be quarantined with than these three, but that doesn’t change the fact that many of the days are difficult. There are unbelievably important discussions to be had about what is happening in the world and almost no energy to have them with. So you suck up all of the energy that you do have and use it for those important moments.
Then, when your child cuts themselves or something brand new happens in politics or in the world, when we read something else on Facebook that affects us or when we have to be responsible for making dinner (thus taking care of other people), we have to dive into that well of untapped energy that has yet to be replenished. We have to do what we have to do, but finding those stores isn’t easy. And once you’ve used them, you’re spent. But you know what? That’s real. It is not just you.
We have to give ourselves permission right now that we wouldn’t normally give. We are living a new kind of normal and that requires us to give ourselves a new kind of break.
When quarantine first started, there was a meme going around that said something to the effect of “You aren’t working from home right now. You are at home, during a pandemic, trying to work. There’s a difference.” And that’s right. There is a huge difference. We can’t hold ourselves to as high expectations as we would during “normal world times.” We need to give ourselves a break.
Love yourself a little extra right now, my friends. If you want to have a few spoonfuls of ice cream before bed, not wear real pants until quarantine is over or take a mid-day break from working at home to go for a walk, find a way to make that work. Have some standards (no, you cannot put an end to showering… unless that’s a serious goal to see how long you can go, in which case, go for it, man!), but don’t have all the standards.
You do not have to be up at 4:23am if online work starts at 6am, you do not have to put on full makeup or gel your hair unless you want to, and you do not have to cook a full meal for every dinner (sandwiches will do!). It’s not necessary and frankly, it’s not the best way to take care of ourselves right now.
I know that the country has opened in some areas and is opening in others, but things won’t be normal for awhile. Be good to yourself. Listen to yourself and what your insides are screaming at you. Everyone is just hanging on right now, so the person you most need to be able to take care of you is you. Be kind enough to yourself to allow you to do that.