We are living in crazy, unprecedented times. Most of us have never lived in a global pandemic, and from my experiences over the past six months, there are two certain truths that I can found; everything takes longer and, I second guess pretty much every decision that I make. Let’s start with the first truth, everything takes longer.
I tend to be someone who tackles every task with a plan to see it through effectively, efficiently, and hopefully, pretty quickly. I generally want to effectively do what I need to do so I can move to the next thing or task. I am a working mother of three children, our family has multiple pets, and there are always activities to attend and tasks that need completing. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, yard work, just to name a few. Generally, we manage to get “all the things” done that are necessary, but since late March, it seems that it takes more energy to do “all the things” and everything takes more planning. From that I have found that more planning = more time.
For example, I am trying to do my part in only going to stores when necessary. This means I have been doing some online shopping and when I do shop in store, I am trying to find locally owned businesses, to help others in our commmunity, something I had not always thought about before. Now, online shopping is often far from perfect. I order items specific to the recipes I am using, but end up with substitutions or items being unavailable. As it turns out, when you order cornmeal flour but instead get two, 5-pound bags of chickpea flour, things tend to take a little longer to figure out. Then the times I do end up going to stores these days, I’ve found that often means waiting too. Don’t get me wrong, I want everyone to be safe, so I am not complaining, but it takes longer. This applies to our homes and place of work too. Cleaning takes more time. Although we tried to have things clean, now we are wiping down high touch areas more regularly and deep cleaning the house far more often. If anyone comes over, things must be thoroughly cleaned (not just surface cleaned) before they come and again after they leave. Cleaning has also extended to our clothing, and now there is more laundry as we are asking the kids to change clothes if they have been anywhere. Of course, can’t forget the masks! There are masks to wash and hang to dry and then ironing the ones that require it (prior to March, my iron was a craft tool only). So, more time allotted for that too. Absolutely everything seems to take more time.
And now for our second truth, I am second guessing EVRYTHING. There are some things that are pretty clear (don’t touch your face, don’t hug strangers, don’t shake hands), but most things are not as clear. There is no evident “right” answer to so many things; do I let my daughter “hang out” with friends at the park, can we safely go to a restaurant, should I just stop and pick up that one item in a store, can I hug my mom, heck should hug my kids? There are no definitive “right” answers to these questions, and on top of it, some people feel a need to have you believe that there are right answers, and they know them.
Because there are no definitively right answers to some of these questions, I have to go with what I believe to be the best decision I can make at the time with the information that I currently have. It’s been helpful to remind myself that I need to maintain a media balance and try to only read data associated with an actual scientific study or program. I find that reading all of the non-scientific stuff generally upsets me. I remind myself daily (ok, hourly sometimes), that no pandemic has ever lasted forever and that this too shall eventually come to pass. This current state is not a “new normal” which gives me the freedom to accept that right now, things might take longer, and this is OK. This is for “right now.” When I think that this could go on, I get upset and I get more careless and develop a “what’s the point” attitude. The point is to get through, and to do so while looking after those around me. To do this, I need to just accept that things will take longer AND that information keeps changing as scientists learn more. We can do this, and that I am not second guessing.
Take care, give yourself grace, and remember that we are all doing the best with what we have.
Written by Tara Garratt, Registered Psychologist with Wildflowers