The Bright Side of Staying Home

I’ve been thinking a lot about the unexpected positives of staying home due to the pandemic. I actually shared a bit about this on my Instagram yesterday, but I have more thoughts. You can see my initial thoughts/post here.

Many of us have been shoved into a different sort of life. It’s a life we may not have chosen or anticipated, but with very little warning it happened. Suddenly many of us are working from home full-time. Vacations have been cancelled, shopping habits have changed, and we have to figure out how to help our kids with online schooling while working at the same time.

It’s easy to focus on the negative. Sure, I’m super disappointed that I had to cancel our trip to Universal Studios. And I’m crushed that Jack and I haven’t had a chance to go to the beach at all this summer. And we miss the pool.

However, there have been some unexpected positives:

Positive #1: I’ve been home since March. That’s 5 months (so far). When I gave birth to Jack, I was home on maternity leave for a little over 2 months before I had to go back into the office a few days a week to keep my health benefits (I was too new to qualify under FMLA). So, this is the longest I’ve EVER been home… including when I pushed a baby out of my hooha. Yes, I’m working. But I’m HOME. And that’s amazing.

Positive #2: Typically, my morning commute into Baltimore is 30 minutes by car and then another 30 minutes by metro. And back in the evening. That’s 10 hours every week of commuting time that I am saving. I just did some quick calculator work: 5 months is about 20 weeks. 20 weeks x 10 hours a week is 200 hours. I have saved over EIGHT DAYS of my life just in commuting time.

Positive #3: With all this extra time, I have time to do things I want to do:

  •  I’ve been taking a morning walk.
  • I’ve been exercising using fitness DVD’s that I’ve thrifted.
  • I’m getting a solid 9 hours of sleep every night.
  • I have the time and energy to complete home improvement projects.
  • I started playing with watercolors and really enjoy it.
  • I have the time to read and I’ve read 67 books so far this year.
  • I’m more confident in my cooking and have made some dang good meals.
  • I have been purging and purging and purging some more. I’ve not only listed a bunch of stuff for sale on Poshmark, but I’ve donated truckloads to our local thrift stores!

Positive #4: I’ve stopped wearing makeup. For years and years and years, every workday I’d paint on eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara, pencil in my eyebrows and then add a little powder on my nose before I left the house. It got to the point that I didn’t really like the way my face looked without makeup. I felt that I looked tired all the time (which maybe I was… but now I’m getting NINE HOURS OF SLEEP EVERY NIGHT!). Since March, I’ve barely bothered to put on any makeup at all. Occasionally, I’ll mix it up and stick on some eyeliner. But it’s been so long that my go-to products now feel like they are too much. I actually like my bare face now. Not too bad for a 42-year-old woman!

When I posted this on Instagram, I had friends telling me that they have experienced positives too. Many said that they now have the time to work out and focus on getting healthy. And I’m not the only one enjoying getting more sleep!

How about you, have you experienced unexpected positives?

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Life Update: New Normal

I haven’t given a Life Update since April when we were still at the beginning of this Stay at Home order thing. Back then, I was working from home full-time and Jack was also home full-time doing online schooling. Juggling both my work and Jack’s school was hard and exhausting, so when Jack finally had his last day of second grade on June 11th… it was absolutely cause for celebration!

So, what has life been like since then?

Much, much easier.

Sure, we are still at home. And we are still keeping mostly to essential trips when we leave the house. I’ve been working from home Monday – Friday since early March, so it’s been about 6 months straight of teleworking.

We wear our masks if we go anywhere inside, we have gotten together with family members a few times for outside socially-distanced picnics.  I’m still cooking dinners Monday – Friday and we order takeout on the weekend to give me a break.

However, the biggest change is… camp.

Maryland is currently in Stage Two of our reopening, which means that outdoor summer camps are open. And I am sooo thankful for that! The company running the camp has also been running essential childcare options, so they are doing a great job with keeping everyone as safe as possible. It’s entirely outdoors, there are temperature checks each morning, screening questions to answer on a daily basis, masks worn when everyone is closer than 6 feet, and social distancing as much as possible.

But the best part is that Jack is finally getting out of the house. With me juggling working from home while also momming at the same time, he wasn’t getting enough attention and he was also getting bored. His attitude was terrible… he was reacting with a combination of acting out with temper tantrums and also being super clingy when I did leave the house for a super exciting grocery run.

Once camp started, it was like a light switch flicked and he want back to his normal self. By getting out of the house and spending time with other people and other kids, he is emotionally stimulated all day long. It is so nice to have him come home tired and sweaty from running around outside all day. And it is a heck of a lot easier for me to get my work done when I’m home alone.

We still don’t know what’s happening with school this fall – it looks like our school system will either be going to a fully online option or a hybrid option. That alone is a massive cause for anxiety for me, because I will have to go back into the office at some point. I can only hope my employer continues to be accommodating and supportive as we all attempt to deal with the ‘new normal’ of living through a pandemic.

But for now… we’re good. Everyone is healthy. Travis is still working. I’m still working. Jack’s enjoying camp. I even had a socially distanced weekend at my bestie’s house. AND we have some Maryland-based beach plans coming up in August to look forward to!

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This Year Has Gone to Crap, So I’m Starting Over

I’m one of those people who really, really, really likes it when my calendar is all neat and pretty. You know, green highlighted stuff for kid activities. Orange highlighted blocks for vacation days. Meetings, calls and plans all nicely written. Maybe a *little* bit of white out strips, because nobody is perfect. My handwriting certainly looks neater on the January pages than when you turn to later in the year.

When I started my new job in June 2019, one of the things that made me really feel like I was leaving my old one was my new planner. Instead of having old work meetings and deadlines scratched out, I had a FRESH planner that was devoted to my new life.

It’s magical.

You know what’s not magical? My 2020 planner. It’s a dang mess. Starting in March it is full of scratched out plans, scribbled out vacations that we had to cancel, and weeks and weeks where I’ve written “SCHOOL CLOSED – JACK AT HOME!” in increasingly frantic writing.

My office has been setting schedules every two weeks. So, every other Friday, I add more scribbles to my calendar blocks. In-person meetings are scratched out. Telework is written in. I have a whole section keeping track of doctor appointments that need to be rescheduled after coronavirus.

While I can’t control when the pandemic will pass, or if school will even start in the fall… there is one thing I can control. And that is me starting over.

I went out and bought myself a BRAND NEW CLEAN AND SHINY planner. For just $25, I get to start August 2020 with a clean slate. I don’t have to look at cancelled vacations, or work events that have moved and moved again. I get to start fresh. After 5 months of this pandemic, I get to determine my new normal and it gets to be PRETTY again. Because it makes me feel good.

One of my favorite parts of the new planner I picked is that it has quotes on most of the pages.

Your voice can change the world.

Barack Obama

If you’re lucky enough to be different, don’t ever change.

Taylor Swift

When you undervalue what you do, the world will undervalue who you are.

Oprah Winfrey

Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.

Maya Angelou

I’ve already gone through and added important stuff to my new calendar. There are even customizable habit tracker pages for each month, so I can try to stick with monthly goals like drinking more water, avoiding soda, and taking a daily walk. Rather than focus on the negative aspects of the last 6 months, I’m taking a breath and looking forward to how I want to live.

Oh, and you can find my fancy new planner here on Amazon. You know, in case you need a fresh start too.

Disclaimer: This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. This means that clicking on a link may help me earn a small commission at no cost to you.

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