I’ve officially social distanced myself and my family for over a week now. We haven’t left our neighborhood in a few days longer than that, and we’ve been worrying about a potential outbreak in our city for even longer.

So I’m at a bit of a reflecting point, because things have started to reach some sense of a stasis. We’re adjusting to a “new normal” and trying to make things work. We’re clinging to hope that we won’t have to live like this for long, but remaining aware of the news and understanding that we may have to adjust our lives for a longer period of time so that humanity can recover from this pandemic.

I’m thinking about what I hope to keep after all this. My brother recently sent this article to our family group chat about. It's about air pollution and CO2 emissions falling rapidly as the virus spreads. It’s a silver lining, since we’ve had repeated warnings from scientists that if we don’t curb the high emissions of CO2 very soon, our world cannot recover and the future for our children and their children looks grim. Perhaps with some big world powers (for instance, our own here in the US??) refusing to listen to reason, nature took it in her own hands to act in self-preservation.

So with that in mind, here are the ways in which I hope to have permanently changed after all this:

I hope I walk and bike more. I’d love to make it a habit to bike to our grocery store and to our downtown area. It’s not that far, and it’s so much better for the environment. And as a bonus, a bike ride with my kids to the library would be a lot more of a full afternoon activity than a car ride, plus it exposes them to the fresh air more. I could feasibly bike quite a few places that I usually drive to. My bike has been hanging in our garage for years, since my pre-baby days. Today, I took it out on a quick spin and immediately decided I needed to come home and find an actual cute helmet. Something that goes with the vibes of my cute white basket. Good news: I found one. Let's get out and use our legs and non-fossil-fuel wheels a bit more!

I hope I learn to understand necessity better. Caroline and I have had several conversations recently about what necessitates a trip, what is really a need, how we can stay home and avoid going out in public. Now, this is because we want to do our part to flatten the curve. But it’s also making me think that we do so much on a daily basis that isn’t a necessity. All of us! It feels like a necessity, but when it comes down to it, we’re all fine here in my house. We’re fine with not going on errands every day and getting out and about and burning gas. We’re fine to go on walks (or stroller rides, if you’re the lucky kids) and exploring our woods and neighborhood. We’re fine to use the plethora of activities and toys that the kids have already received in their lives, without going out and buying more. We’ve added in some things here and there for the purpose of freshening a supply, but in the interest of not forcing delivery people to have more work I’ve also squashed my interest in ordering, say, a new lego set from the Lego movie which we’re newly obsessed with.

I hope I keep doing more things myself rather than purchasing pre-made. For instance, we love naan here. I’ve made fresh naan in the past and it’s so easy! But it’s also easy and pretty cheap from Costco, so I always just pick up a pack when we go. At this point, I don’t want to be anywhere NEAR Costco, so I’m just going to make it myself and enjoy the freshness (plus, I love to put a lot of garlic in the dough. Costco has nothing on my love of garlic.) Also, I’d rather leave the naan at Costco for those who need to grab a bag rather than me, when I don't need to purchase it right now.

I hope I facetime my friends more. It's been fun to just pick up my phone and call my friends. (I would say family, but we do this non-stop anyway. Nothing new here.) Our generation doesn't make calls, so it's refreshing to do so without getting a weird look. It helps to recharge my social battery in this time of not being able to be out chatting with the world.

Conversely, here’s what I hope doesn’t change:
My son is a social butterfly, like me. If he sees his friends outside playing on their bikes, he MUST join them. There is no other option for him. Today, however, he saw them and shied away. He didn’t want to be outside for fear of getting the virus. I hope that we’re able to find a balance when we speak of the necessary steps we have to take these days, so that when we can be together again (and we WILL be able to be together again), he runs again into the arms of his friends and doesn’t shy away or run inside.

The last thing I want to do is appear insensitive to those who are suffering in many different ways as a result of this virus. As I focus on the aftermath and say things like "silver linings," I hope that my compassion and understanding aren't lost in the overall message. This is in no way meant to lessen the severity of a very real and tragic pandemic and its effects. If you're currently walking through fire, we see you and we're with you.

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