If you had told any of us six months ago that our understanding of normal was about to be completely flipped on its head, and this life-changing event was going to be a global experience, I doubt we would have believed it. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and now, there are many things I wish I could have done before COVID-19 changed our lives. Here are a few things I wish I had known just six months ago.
You should hug your parents. A lot.
The power of touch is an incredible thing and it will be surprising to you just how deeply you feel the lack of it from your parents. I’m an adult, I have my husband and kids around to hug and snuggle with every day, but even as a grownup, there’s nothing that can replace a hug from mom.
Now’s a good time to do some serious work on the backyard.
You will be seeing a lot of it. Put some time and effort into the backyard, for heaven’s sake. Get some flowers, some nice patio furniture, maybe even a little professional landscape job. Your outdoor surroundings can go a long way in lifting your spirits.
You might want to stock up on some non-perishable foods to limit the number of times you need to go out.
The panic at first is a little alarming. Seeing empty shelf after empty shelf in a grocery store is startling. Things will calm down, but the less you go out, the better. Grab a few staples now, and you can stay home longer.
And grab some of that soft toilet paper while you’re at it.
You’ll thank me later.
Why not travel more?
There is so much of this world to see. You will never regret wandering the dusty trails in Cinque Terra, Italy or having a pint in a local Irish pub. You’ll always remember seeing penguins up close in The Galapagos Islands and lions in Kenya. There’s so much more that you will never regret. See it. Go now. And live on the memories later.
Let’s upgrade the home office.
You’ll spend a lot of hours in that home office once you realize that it is not a good idea to try and work from the kitchen table or the bed. It could use some sprucing up (and you’re worth it!) The lighting needs work, you need a good desk chair. And a door that locks during Zoom meetings.
Cry now, so you don’t have to hide when the kids are around all the time.
Those little babes of yours are soon going to be a constant source of worry and guilt and concern for you, and it’s going to be amplified by your own guilt and worry and stress about life in general. As time goes on, it will get better. But in those early days, you’ll really need a good cry. So why not give yourself a heaving, cathartic sob fest right now? It might help. (You’ll be willing to try anything that might help eventually.)
You’re going to be okay. You’re one of the lucky ones.
The first month or so is tough. You’re going to feel a weight on your shoulders and inside your chest because this has never happened before in your lifetime. It’s confusing and scary. But when you’re several months in, you’ll see that you have your health, your kids are doing well, you’ll eventually see your family again. You have things to keep you grounded and calm. You are lucky. Remember that.
Your kids are going to be okay. They have you.
This might be the most important thing that I wish I had known 6 months ago. You can’t see the forest for the trees for a while, which is understandable. But try to remember that you’re a mother: you will do whatever it takes to protect your kids. You can’t control what the neighbours do, what the statistics say or when the kids will be able to hug their friends. But you can love them, day in and day out, fiercely. And they will feel it. Eventually, we’ll be okay.