I took some time off while lockdown was in place. It wasn’t even intentional, it just sort of happened. When the kids’ school and activities were all cancelled, life moved into a new normal – a slow, steady rhythm that I loved. I found myself doing less and less of the things I ‘ought to’ be doing, and focused instead on the things I ‘had to’ be doing. The ‘ought tos’ were very easily shed and I realised that it’s okay to not do all the things sometimes.
We can just stop.
Soft together days
Paid work continued and was enough to keep me occupied while the kids did their online schooling. The rest of the time, we just hung out together, letting the days soften around us.
Threw a ball into the air and counted how many claps we could do before we caught it again (I’m the champion with 11).
Created Saturday night dinner parties where we dressed up and ate an elaborate menu based on a theme.
Binge watched 1980s Baywatch (I do not recommend, though inner 11-year-old Bron was full of nostalgia).
Went for long walks into the bush and noticed the season changing.
It all seemed so easy and the stress of lockdown times was manageable as a result. I didn’t feel rushed. I didn’t feel like I had to ‘solve things’ so I could move onto the next thing. I learned that it’s not only okay to not do all the things, it’s actually mandatory.
Cherishing what rises
When life slowed down, the muck sank slowly to the bottom. The busyness and business settled quietly below, allowing a clarity that had been lacking for years. Floating to the top, was what really matters – the essence of what I want our new normal to be. The values that hold a life together but are so often squished between the ought-tos.
Making space to let our values breathe is essential. Everything is easier when we live through them, not around them. Values-based parenting feels natural and easy. Making it clear to our kids what we stand for is so important when we are trying to raise them to be and do their best. Saying no becomes a breeze when the conversation is really about ‘no, that doesn’t fit with what I truly value and I hope you feel the same way.’
Becoming more us
The ‘quality family time’ so many of us all found during lockdown felt good because quality family time is really what we are here for. It’s why we have a family, right? Being together is our best selves, right there. My kids are never happier than when I give them my full attention, and, it turns out, nor am I. I’m certain your kids are the same way too.
It’s true of little kids, and it’s also true of big kids. Making time to be together, to listen to each other, to create shared moments, is genuinely cherished by everyone. I think we all felt loved and seen, even by our teens, during the lockdown.
We came such a long way: The three stages of lockdown – a family #journey
When we are with family, we can be our vulnerable, topsy-turvy, slightly-crazy, completely authentic selves. What anyone thinks of the way we spend our time together, doesn’t matter. It suits us, and because of that we become more us.
Easy we go into the new normal
So, this is what I have taken from these past couple of months. This simple reminder that the only life worth living is the life that supports our true self. If there’s no time to understand what we value, to explore it and to nourish it, then we need to make space. Anything less is just treading water. Anything less won’t make us feel satisfied.
I confess I was initially nervous about lockdown ending and reluctant to ‘go back’ to the busyness of the before. Yet I have discovered that I did learn my lesson. That kind of busyness, and expectation, will only return if I let it. I’m going to work hard not to let it. I’m making a new normal and I have three little rules that are going to help me keep it:
- Be clear in what is important to me – right now, that’s family, slow days, eating wholefoods, getting plenty of exercise and nurturing closer friendships. Whatever I do right now needs to support those values.
- Honour my values by bringing friends along for the ride – I turned down an invitation to dinner last weekend by simply saying “We’ve already got something on that weekend, can we make it another weekend?”
- Questioning things more often – this is a commitment to not do something ‘just because’ we’ve always done it a certain way, or because others do it, or because we think we should be doing it. Rather, I’m asking whether it supports my values and supports my future self. The same goes for the kids and what activities they want to pick up. We’re working through it.
To be honest, my new normal isn’t really that different from my old normal, but it feels more intentional. It feels gentler. However your new normal looks for you, I hope you can hang onto it. I hope you can create it.
How do feel about the ‘new normal’? Do you hope to change much in your life?