As things are starting to open and we have more flexibility back in our lives, we also have more opportunity for conflict and confusion.
We have come to a point in time that several months back might have been impossible to imagine. Just a few short weeks ago, kids’ summer activities were being canceled, restaurants were remaining closed and most of us were settled into this “new normal.”
We were used to the days running into each other, and we did what we had to in order to accept that this was potentially how our lives were going to be for the time being. Now, shops and restaurants are open, playgrounds are accessible again, and sports and recreational activities are resuming.
While many of us have been waiting for this, it is also scary to think about transitioning back into some of these things that used to be so mundane.
This past weekend, our family spent a couple of days at the beach. We had a place to stay that we felt was safe, had planned to engage in socially distant outdoor activities, and if we felt comfortable, maybe we would eat at a restaurant (hey, it is the beach, with lots of wonderful places to eat and beautiful outdoor seating).
To be honest, we were not really sure what to expect. For the last 13 weeks, we have been home, cooking our meals (or doing takeout that we knew we were comfortable with), and our most exciting activity consisted of going on walks or hikes with our kids. Now, we were going “on vacation.”
Our beach trips in the past consisted of visits to the boardwalk, amusement parks, lots of shopping and eating most of meals out without worrying about social distancing. How different was this going to be?
What surprised me was how close to normal it actually felt. It was a very weird mix of totally ordinary and totally different. The area was less crowded than normal, but still lively. Most storefronts were open, with people were going in and out, but signs on the door limited occupancy and reminded of mask requirements. People were respectful not to get too close but were friendly. It all served as a reminder of how wonderful it is to just be around people.
Different from when we started this quarantine, transitioning out of this time comes with unique complications.
Back in March, everything was closed. We did not have choices about going out or not, as there was nowhere to go. Now, as things open up, we have to check in with ourselves and make choices that are best for us and our family.
It takes thought and exploration. While it may be unsettling to have to make some of these decisions, and some of us might have preferred things to stay shut down to avoid having to do this, let’s think of the positive in being faced with some of these choices.
What to Hold Onto, What to Let Go
We have a chance to think about what works in our lives and what doesn’t. We get to look back at the last three months and assess how our lives have gone, what we would like to hold onto and what we would like to let go of.
I have shared several times that one of the things I have loved about this time of social distancing is the ability to have family dinners every night. As long as we are still working from home and have this flexibility, I plan to hold on to this.
I have also found value in not being so scheduled with activities and having more time to just be. While I am looking forward to having access to some of this again, I do also want to make sure that I continue to prioritize these things that I have come to appreciate during this time.
So this week, I encourage all of you to take time to process what has gone well for you in the last few months. As hard as this time may be, there are things that might have been better than in your life prior to this.
Think about what those things are that you want to hold onto. And think about what you are ready to let go of.
You have the choice, so take some time to think about what would be best for you and your family.
Jmore parenting columnist Talya Knable is a psychotherapist who lives in Lutherville with her husband, Stephen, and their two children, Jack and Leigh. Her website is tkpsych.com/. She is also the assistant clinical director of Shalom Tikvah (shalomtikvah.org/), a local non-profit organization that supports Jewish families facing mental illness and other challenging life circumstances.