Under any circumstance, my family enjoys spending time together. We often unite for vacations, catch up for dinners, and gather for events and holidays. But until the recent COVID-19 stay-at-home mandate, we have never spent this much time together in the same house, day in and day out, even when my kids were very little.
We miss and are even more aware than ever of the many freedoms we have enjoyed in better times. But despite obvious and serious downsides of COVID-19, I’m finding upsides to having a slower schedule and concentrated time at home with my adult children.
EMBRACING NEW TECHNOLOGIC SKILLS
My usually fast-paced work as realtor, for example, has previously kept me from expanding my digital skills beyond Baby Boomer basics. But in the last two weeks, my kids have taught me to download and use Zoom and FaceTime to stay safely connected with family, friends, clients, and colleagues. The software, of course, has helped me continue working effectively each day to make progress with my business; but it also has given me a much-needed window through which I can see familiar, happy faces.
EVOLVING WITH CHANGES
My kids also have taught me that it’s possible to adapt quickly to changes in the work environment and remain focused despite internal and external distractions. Without pause, they have transitioned their former offices to work stations in our kitchen. They are up and online early each day, FaceTiming colleagues, and accomplishing goals to support their teams and companies. Eager to make progress even in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, their focus renews my respect for a generation of people who often are criticized for an inability to take work seriously and get things done.
MAINTAINING WORK, LIFE, AND AN OPTIMISTIC OUTLOOK
The importance of preserving a work / life balance even in difficult times is another pearl my kids have taught me recently. Each day I see them organize their schedules, including making time for exercise, preparing balanced meals, and visiting with their friends. Their FaceTime social gatherings have become a cheerful Friday evening routine after they’ve finished work. Although it’s certainly not the same as meeting in person at their favorite haunts, they make the most of the visits by discussing their concerns and fears, expressing compassion, and sharing laughs.
KEEPING HUMOR IN THE MIX
Sharing laughs during this sobering time is perhaps the most valuable lesson my kids have taught me since COVID-19 has disrupted our lives. As a generation that grew up with the 9/11 tragedy and 2008 Wall Street collapse, they have mastered the art of highlighting good when they find it. Whenever possible, they punctuate our days with humor to relieve stress and separate us, if momentarily, from our worries.
Don’t get me wrong, my kids are as concerned about the COVID crisis as I am. They stay abreast of the news and engage in serious discussions about the many issues associated with it. They are deeply concerned about how the virus has affected and will affect people they know and don’t know both near and far from home. But they embrace and share a calm, hopeful, we-will-get-through-this perspective that has helped soothe me when my anxieties are overwhelming.
EMPATHIZING WITH PARENTS OF YOUNG KIDS
I realize how fortunate I am to be home with adult children who are mature enough to help me process the many changes and fears associated with COVID-19. Even though my kids are grown, I well remember the work that goes with having young’uns at home.
In the current of this awful virus, parents with young children get no break. Home schooling their kids and organizing activities that promote physical, intellectual, and emotional growth are enormous jobs even in the best of times with support from our fine schools, teachers, family, and friends. Many parents have, of course, assumed these additional jobs while maintaining their full- or part-time positions from home. I recognize each of them with my deepest respect and admiration.
USING WHAT I'VE LEARNED FOR WHAT'S AHEAD
Sharing practical knowledge, adapting to and evolving with changes, balancing work and life even in hard times, and embracing a hopeful perspective are among the good lessons I have learned from my kids in just two weeks together. In addition, their approach to life encourages me to continue embracing and nurturing my personal and professional passions.
Learning from my kids without the COVID-19 crisis would, of course, be better. But I'm using the intensive togetherness with my kids as an awakening to what's important. More than ever and in spite of COVID-19, I resolve to use what my kids have taught me to stay focused and remain positive as we meet challenges in the weeks ahead.