Are you feeling uprooted? Like this pandemic has turned everything in your life upside down? Me too. I’ve lost track of how many weeks we’ve been home. And although our city and state have lessened restrictions, we’re still staying home as much as we can.
I can sense that people are aching to get back to normal. But I don’t think things are ever going back to the way they were before this pandemic hit. And I’m ok with that. Why? Because now is the time to rethink everything. It’s a blank slate. A time to start fresh.
A time to plant new seeds.
Where do we start?
We have some work to do first. We need to grieve the life that once was. So many people have lost loved ones, jobs, livelihoods, innocence, a sense of security. Maybe you’ll come out of this mostly unscathed, but I bet it’s touched you somewhere in your life. Spend some time grieving.
I’m grieving my youngest having her preschool graduation without her friends. Surrounded by her teachers, her sister, and her parents, it was only her, wearing her cap and gown. During a timed ceremony so we wouldn’t interact with too many others. I can only imagine how parents and kids who didn’t get their high school or college graduation ceremony feel. These rituals bring such closure.
I’m grieving the last few months of spending every Tuesday with my daughter before she heads off to kindergarten. I’ve spent every Tuesday of the last 7 years with one or both of my girls. Although I was tired of figuring out how to entertain a small child every week, Mommy and Ellie days were special.
What do you need to grieve? Spend some time sitting with it and working through it. Mourn the memories that never were.
Once we’ve grieved, we can begin planting new seeds.
Next comes the part I’m most excited about. There is such an opportunity here. It’s time for a shift in thinking. Instead of longing to go back to the way things were, let’s reinvent. Let’s look at our schedules and priorities and figure out what really matters. How do we want to be spending our time?
I want to see our society have some big, deep discussions about so many things. Work, education, the division of housework and parenting. Generally, the way our society functions.
I’m not looking to have a big political discussion here. But we need to start with learning how to have deeper discussions. Instead of constantly complaining about how things aren’t working or dismissing someone who thinks differently, we need to listen and work to understand each other. Maybe once people start feeling heard, we can come together to fix things. People won’t dig in their heels and refuse to hear someone else because they won’t feel attacked. One place I’ve started is by reading Crucial Conversations and taking this quick mini-course.
Let’s start with work.
I do understand that not every job is flexible. You have to show up for a shift at the grocery store, hospital, just about every job in the service industry. Maybe there are ways to put more flexibility into these jobs. I’m talking about knowledge workers here. There are plenty of jobs focused solely on how much time you spend at your desk in the office. It doesn’t matter how much you do while you’re there. But you better be in your seat.
My husband was let go from a job many years ago because he wasn’t in the office by 8:30am every day. He was working close to 70 hours a week, but some of that was at home. He had young kids and wanted to be around to see them. This company couldn’t see that the amount of work or the quality of work is what mattered. It didn’t take the time to notice anything but when he was at his desk.
The shift in thinking here comes from defining success for these positions. Then, setting expectations and a deadline, and letting employees make it happen. I bet there will be a lot more creativity that comes from that freedom. Plant some new seeds.
Also, take a look at how many meetings are necessary and how people are communicating. I’m guessing some things can change there too. Does every meeting end with defined next steps? Or are they just a waste of time? Watch this quick 1-minute video about one thing you can do for more productive meetings.
The workload for women.
And what about the workload, both at work and at home, for women? Why is it that women are asked how they balance working and parenting but we never ask the dads? Why is it women are expected to do it all but we don’t expect it from the dads? Don’t tell me it’s because women are better at multitasking (I’ll get into that some other time). Think about what we’re teaching our kids – that it’s ok for the men not to help and the women need to do it all because no one else is capable.
There needs to be a shift in thinking here. A shift that we’re all in this together. That we all succeed or fail together. We need to stop with this thinking that we need to do it all by ourselves. Plant some new seeds.
Let’s rethink how we spend our time.
Have you created new routines during this pandemic? Maybe you’re walking the dog every morning or taking family walks before dinner. My husband and I are taking one night a week to play cards after the kids are in bed. I’ve wanted to cancel my gym membership and have more flexibility in when I work out but never made it happen. I’m exercising more now that I’ve made space for it in my living room.
Are you finding yourself enjoying more leisurely family dinners? Taking the time to watch your kids play in the backyard? Is it nice to not be rushing from one activity to another? Or maybe you’ve been so overwhelmed by work and remote learning and having the kids home that you’re exhausted.
I hope there’s been more quality family time. I hope that as activities begin to resume that you don’t go rushing out signing up for everything. I hope you find some peace in not rushing from one place to the next. In having family dinners (or breakfasts!) on a regular basis. Before you start filling up your schedule, figure out how you truly want to be spending your time. Commit your time carefully. Plant these new seeds meaningfully.
What about our stuff?
You’ve likely spent the last few months surrounded by your stuff. Is it driving you crazy? Are you finding it useful? Have you spent time sorting through and organizing it? We’ve rearranged toys to make them easier for our kids to use. We have a table just for arts and crafts now. We have a charging station for tablets and computers. We have learned more about how we use our space. That we really don’t need a big house and that when every toy is on the floor, it feels like a lot.
When we have less stuff, it’s easier to maintain an organized home. And it’s easier to use things because it’s not so overwhelming and we can find what we’re looking for. If our house is too cluttered, we can’t find what we need.
So take a look around your space, figure out what you love and need, and let the rest go. How do you want to feel when you are in your space? Comfortable? Content? Happy? Work towards getting your space to create that. Plant some new seeds with your space.
And related to our stuff, what about our spending?
Since you’ve been home, have you saved money because you’re not wandering through stores buying things you don’t need? Or are you just overbuying on Amazon? I’ve loved not spending money buying things we don’t need. It’s been nice to think about repurposing something we have in our house to fulfill a need. Or knowing that we don’t need more stuff in our lives. Plant some new seeds around spending. It relates to clutter as well. Retail therapy leads to short term relief. The stuff you buy takes up space in your house. It needs to be maintained or it just creates clutter. Take some time to figure out what’s behind that and find new ways to fill your cup. Plant some new seeds.
Time to plant some new seeds.
We need a shift in thinking. Let’s do things differently. Let’s move forward into something better. Let’s plant some new seeds.
If you’re ready to plant some new seeds in your life, let’s talk! And, if you’re an overwhelmed working mom, ready to take back control of your time, join Chaos Contained, an online community providing support in productivity.