You are Not Obligated to Return to Your Pre Covid-19 Scheduling

Inside: We don’t have to get all the way back to normal. We can choose to viciously guard the margin on our calendars and slow down. 

“In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.” – Dave Hollis

I don’t know about you, but as the world begins to open up I find myself easily overwhelmed and overexerted. Every event I add to my calendar feels like too much.

As I’ve investigated why it is that having even a simple dentist appointment on my calendar has me feeling like I need a good nap, I realized that I’ve grown to love our overabundance of down time and the sweet gifts it’s offered us. Not to mention, I’ve lost quite a bit of endurance when it comes to the busy life.

We were all forced from our habit of hurry around March 13th of 2020. Now that the world is opening back up, even if just briefly, we’re finding ourselves all too easily winded. We aren’t used to having things on our calendars. After months and months of having nowhere to be and nothing to do, for some of us, doing anything is flat out exhausting.

Maintaining Margin

Here’s the thing we need to remember as we apprehensively ease our way back into normalcy:

We aren’t required to resume our regularly scheduled, pre- Covid-19 programming for the sake of normalcy. While you should probably keep your dentist appointments, you don’t have to say “yes” to everything else. If you’ve come to find yourself better suited for the slower pace of quarantine life, you can choose to keep one foot exactly there.

If there has been a teeny, tiny, little, bitty part of you that’s secretly hoping an executive order will come through and cancel your weekend plans, then perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the things you’re saying yes to.

Maintaining margin on your calendar is nobody’s responsibility but your own.

You are not obligated to return to running your family ragged simply because it’s how you used to operate before the world shut down. We’re all coming out of this pandemic changed in some ways, and you can choose to keep a slower pace.

Make no mistake about it, being forced into a global shutdown is far from ideal. Many people are still losing their livelihoods because of it. However, it also gave us a first hand look at what is important. It shone a light on what it is we value most in a way we would have never experienced otherwise.

Much of my apprehension with leaving the house these days isn’t so much a fear of a virus, but of missing out. Except this time around, it isn’t the excess commitments and activities I’m afraid of missing out on, it’s the closeness, connection, quality time and the small, simple gifts we’ve come to enjoy while being stuck at home. We’re not ready to let go of that, and yet, as my calendar begins to fill back up, that’s exactly what’s happening.

What Can We Do About It?

We don’t have to choose between paralyzing the entire world and resuming our previous pace. Instead, we can decide to make those gifts a permanent part of our everyday lives by taking ownership over our time and capacity. These small, unexpected gifts are worth making time for. It’s okay to let go of what wasn’t working in exchange for what is.

Did you discover any gifts during quarantine? Big or small? Life altering or minuscule? It all counts. Here are five small, unexpected gifts I found during quarantine, that I plan to keep a part of my life going forward. How about you?

My 5 Small, Unexpected Gifts from Quarantine

1. Extra Reading Time

I loved to read prior to quarantine, but during the shutdown, I read all of the time. It may have partly been my way of mentally blocking out the volume at which my children communicate. Seriously- I have the loudest children on the planet. 

I can already see my reading time dwindling away as our calendar begins to fill back up. Maintaining an abundance of reading time is one simple way I plan to keep a foot in quarantine going forward.

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2. Designated Quarantine Time

While having my husband working in the basement, my kids in remote learning and myself on a book deadline was absolute madness, I also kind of enjoyed being shut in with just my crew. I plan to put ourselves back into quarantine every now and then by intentionally scheduling time to do nothing, go nowhere and see absolutely nobody. Think of it as a kind next level Staycation. I have to imagine it will be much more soul-fulling when we aren’t forced into it by a virus.

3. Curly Hair

This is the story of how my hair got its groove back.

I have had curly hair my whole life, but after my littlest was born, my hair had an identity crisis. It forgot how to curl itself while never managing to figure out how to straighten itself either. This left me having to corral it every single day. During quarantine I went on strike and stopped doing my hair all together because, well, what was the point, right?

Thanks to the down time, my hair found its curl again.

4. Family Meals

Eating meals together as a family is something we all know to be beneficial. Yet, it seems to be the very first thing to go during busier seasons of life. While quarantined, we didn’t just eat dinner together, many days we ate breakfast and lunch together as well.

While I certainly don’t miss all the clean up, I do miss the conversations that occurred during these many meals together. This experience has reaffirmed for us the importance of breaking bread together, and encouraged us to continue to prioritize gathering together over dinner. Yes, even on fast food Wednesday.

5. Evening Devotional

We started reading Love Does for Kids by Bob Goff with our kids every night before bed. As our kids get back into school, homework and sports, this is something we’ve had to be very intentional about fitting in. The days are much shorter outside of quarantine. These few minutes before bed just may be our kids’ favorite new tradition to come out of quarantine.

How About You?

Did you find any sweet, unexpected gifts during the shut down? Make a list.

I polled a few close friends, and this is what they had to say:

  • Spending hours and hours outdoors
  • Increased communication with long distance family
  • Growing in faith and trust in God
  • Deeper friendships
  • Friday morning family Chick-fil-A drive through breakfast
  • Realizing who and what are important in my life
  • Going grocery shopping without the kids
  • Tightening up my close circle of friendships
  • Learning to pivot
  • My kids relearning how to play together and enjoying it
  • Discovering what I am most certain of
  • Adventuring nearby
  • Not rushing out the door
  • More family time
  • Family bible study at lunch
  • Reducing our kids’ extracurricular commitments

Ruthlessly Guard Your Capacity

If you struggle to say no, and find yourself already committing to things you’d rather not, read, How to Stop Overbooking Your Life to better equip yourself to say no with confidence.

Yes, we probably need to work on building up a tolerance for things like wearing jeans and going to the dentist again, but getting back to normal doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation. You can come out of quarantine holding tightly to the parts you loved, while walking away from the commitments that no longer serve you.

When the world returns to its regularly scheduled programming, know that you don’t have to.

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