The two other people in my little family are different than me, but before Covid19 I had fewer hours with them during the day to be reminded of this.
We normally see each other after full days of work and school— sharing news, homework, household chores, and recreational time. But Covid19 has changed the way daily life looks. Now all three of us are together all day long, seven days a week. It’s a meaningful time, but there are also moments when it is acutely frustrating and we just want some space. We’re learning to appreciate each other for who we are and show hospitality in deeper ways—because we don’t have time apart to miss each other and mentally prepare for our afternoons, evenings, and weekends together.
Hospitality is usually shared between our family and the larger community. Nowadays it’s mostly shared at home with each other. The home—a place that is normally a refuge for us after daily responsibilities—has become a place where two adults and one child spend our days sharing work and school. In the afternoon and evenings, we try to have the recreational time we need as individuals to exercise or do our hobbies. During these hours our families’ needs and personal wishes often conflict. Before the Covid19 social distancing/working from home, Daniel and I could exercise on our own during the latter part of the work day or while Eva did afternoon homework. Now we have to figure out how to share that time while also giving Eva the down time she needs. More hours together means extending grace and hospitality in ways we normally are not required to. We’re learning. From the myriad social media posts I’ve seen, I do not think we are the only family trying to figure out what works best. I suppose life will look a little different for every family depending on what their needs are.
No matter the situation before Covid19 entered the picture, a drastic life change is a steep learning curve for any family. Before this pandemic, we had an imperfect, but fairly balanced life that we also shared with our community. Now, however, out of necessity, we spend nearly all of our time with our immediate family.
It’s interesting to observe all three of our personalities under one roof for the entire day.
While no one is either completely an introvert or extrovert, I think I tend more toward introversion. I love being around people and occasionally attending social events. I’m not shy, but I experience refreshment and renewal by being alone. I need to recharge away from people. I love writing, taking care of my plants, and having only a handful of deeper relationships. I’m a creative thinker and auditory learner.
My daughter, an only child, knows how to spend time alone if she needs to, but always prefers a group of friends. She definitely tends toward extroversion. She can be a little quiet in a group and has a calm personality, but thrives in social settings. I think she only comes home from school and extracurricular actives because she needs to eat, do homework and sleep in order to go right back to “peopling” 🙂 . She is a concrete, black and white thinker and learns best visually.
My husband is somewhere in the middle of introvert and extrovert. I think ambivert is the term for that. He feels comfortable in most situations and seems to be refreshed by a good conversation with a stranger just as much as he would being alone with a book. He loves learning about everything in all kinds of new ways.
These three personalities together all day long can create some interesting conflict, but also helps us learn how to give each other the room we need to be ourselves and grow. We are seeing moments of the others’ days we usually don’t get to see. Because of this I think we’re developing a greater appreciation and understanding for our respective personalities.
My daughter’s teachers have always told me how persistent she is in her work, but now I get to see it with my own eyes as I help with online school. I noticed it in other ways before, but now as I watch her work through each’s day’s lessons, I’m able to observe her learning process closer. It’s rewarding watching her take on challenges in her own way. I’ve taken notice of her coping styles as she deals with the uncertainty in the world. Right now her two most preferred ways to deal with stress are singing her feelings out loud or creating art. This week she is molding tiny clay flower petals and leaves for an intricate jungle scene she’s been working on. I love watching her selection process for tools to create patterns on crocodiles’ backs or shape ripples in water.
My husband is compassionate and good at speaking truth to his students during these days of online school. He also knows his subject matter very well and explores new methods to help students grasp concepts. It warms my heart to observe this in person more often. Something I’ve also appreciated the past few weeks about Daniel is how good he is at coming up with fun ways to enjoy our outdoor space, like roasting marshmallows and inventing games with the sprinkler and trampoline.
I like finding creative ways to get us out of the house. Our family enjoys getting drive through food, parking in the shade with the AC on, and listening to books with stories.audible.com. Right now our lunch times are spent hearing Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery because our daughter loves that story. If we need to save money and eat lunch at home, then we do the same thing with snacks or dessert. Either way we’re getting out of the house and enjoying a mental break from the routine. Last weekend we took an afternoon photography drive through the mountains. It was fun and we shared our pictures later at home with sodas and popcorn, along with reasons why each photo captured our interest. This got some interesting conversation flowing.
So while this time is hard, it is also helping us appreciate what is beautiful in each other. Our strengths are blessings when another is feeling weak. Our weak areas are being refined through increased time together. Though we have to apologize often, we know our intentions toward each other come from hearts of acceptance and love. It’s easier to lower our shields and truly learn from each other because we have walked closely together for many years as a family. There is a level of trust that has been carefully and lovingly cultivated. This makes for a safe space to learn and grow—even when we’re driving each other crazy. What a challenging, yet precious time.
Covid19 is a tragic occurrence that has claimed so many lives in our world and I wish it had never happened. What the world will look like after this has a big question mark on it. There is more uncertainty than usual in the days ahead.
Since part of combating this virus includes social distancing and being at home most of the time, I am grateful for these extra, unexpected hours with my family. I am thankful for the need to eliminate good, but unnecessary activities from our weekly agenda and decide what will be most important to have finished by week’s end— and who we want to be in the midst of it all.
I pray you are encouraged.
©2020ChrissyWinslow–All Rights Reserved
- Audio books aren’t for everyone, but here is the link for stories.audible.com if you would like to listen to any books. I like it that Rachel McAdams narrates the book we’re listening to.
- Other ideas I’ve shared in this post:
– “Picnics” in your family car with drive through food or food from your house. We like to listen to audio books during this time or new music we’ve found. You can do the same in your yard or living room.
– Take a drive through the countryside or city. Try to take creative and fun photos and share them over popcorn and soda later. For us it’s easy with our phones and Apple TV, but there are other ways as well. If you can’t go out it’s easy to take photos in your yard or on your street.
What are some fun, helpful things you’ve found to do during social distancing? Please share some ideas in the comments 🙂