Life is less cluttered. It’s slower-paced. We have more time for one another.
This was the consensus during a family dinner conversation last week. I had asked my family what was working for us due to the pandemic and associated isolation and government regulations. While not everyone can say this (and many are struggling like never before), our family was finding the silver lining and suggesting they didn’t want to go back to how things were. They wanted more of the life where we had more family walks, bike rides and evenings together. We felt that those things will be some of our most sustaining and important joys from this period.
I shared this with my Facebook community and while many families have reported to me that there have been challenges, many, many others have also felt that the requirement to stay at home has been a surprisingly positive experience.
In having these discussions and writing this article, I have no intention of being dismissive of the obvious pain that the disease has brought around the world in terms of loss of life and health, as well as economically or psychologically. But as the responses to my post have shown, there have been some positives for many people.
Slowing down is good for us.
The current crisis has forced us to slow down. Slowing down is good for us. It’s good for our family relationships, our health and our wellbeing.
People are saying things like, ‘It feels wonderful to have minimal demands. Younger children are falling to sleep easier, sleeping through the night, and I’m hearing a lot more giggling and laughter.’
Another mum said, ‘We are embracing the small parts of life we used to just rush past. Doing our daily walk we notice beautiful trees, flowers and patterns in the sky. We’re having more hugs. I’m less stressed, less tired.’
‘I have cherished our time together’, said another mum. ‘It hasn’t been without it’s challenges but for the most part it’s brought us closer together.’
Adversity leads to growth.
Tough times are a necessary part of life and a necessary part of growth. In tough times, we learn. We’re forced to adapt and change. So, we grow. Australian parents are seeing this in themselves, in their children and in the wider community.
‘We’ve all learnt to make more food from scratch and are using up every last bit of things instead of being wasteful and throwing out’, one parent said.
‘I have loved not being able to go out. To just make do with what you already have’, said another.
And yet another, ‘Yes we loved the slow down and the chance and time to connect with our kids more. But at the same time it also highlighted that we have a lot of things in our family life that have become negative habits, and the things we need to be a lot more conscious of, and want to work together as a family to change. For example, how we deal with stress, conflict and discipline.’
As a community we’re growing as well.
One mum said, ‘I’ve noticed that generally people are a lot friendlier. There is kindness and giving way in the supermarket, and nods and greetings to everyone we see on our walks. I think there is a real sense of comradery in the community that I’m loving. I hope we can all be a little more kind to each other after this is done.’
And another said, ‘I’ve also loved watching Australia “find a way” – find an alternative way to enjoy moments’.
We’ve experienced an increased sense of gratitude.
In the midst of our busy, full lives, we sometimes miss the chance to be grateful for all that we have. And gratitude is fantastic for our wellbeing. This crisis has given us a chance to remember those things that we’re grateful for. In our home, we’re grateful for our family, our safe community, our employment that keeps us fed and sheltered, and so much more.
One parent also said, ‘I think we are also much more appreciative of our home and yard and all feel very grateful that we have a comfortable place to live’.
‘I’ve been very grateful for the time I’ve had to reconnect with my 13 year old’, said another mum. ‘It has been a real blessing as we were struggling a lot before lockdown.’
What will we take with us when this time is over?
We can’t be 100% sure. But I hope we take the important things – the deep and meaningful conversations we’ve been able to have with our loved ones, the increased kindness and sense of gratitude, the understanding of what is important in our lives and the joy we’ve felt in slowing down and taking the time to connect with each other.