While we still have a long way to go before our world returns to normal (or at least the new version of it), many of us are adjusting to yet another new season and rhythm. Kids are back in school, workplaces are starting to move in-person, and people are feeling hopeful about future plans and events. Yet when I finally began seeing new things on our family calendar, anxiety immediately filled me. Not because of COVID (we’re vaccinated and only participating in safe events). Not because of social anxiety. But because I’m afraid my family will go back to the unhealthy patterns that plagued us before, well, the plague.
3 things I learned during COVID-19 that I hope I never forget:
People, not Productivity.
As a Type A Enneagram 3, I thrive on efficiency and, simply put, GETTING IT DONE. Pre-COVID, my to do lists were a mile long. I often made the mistake of squeezing so much productivity out of my day that my relationships suffered. As COVID hit and my schedule suddenly cleared, I rushed to fill my unexpected free time with things I thought a good mom and wife should do. Sourdough starter, anyone? But after some messy arguments, I processed my thoughts and realized I desperately needed to break my addiction to productivity.
I stopped creating to-do tasks out of thin air, and started being ok with having a free hour on the schedule. I saw the magic happening around me… the joy of my children. What a blessing to enjoy a cup of coffee with my toddler curled up in my lap. I could read him a book without trying to get stuff done on my phone at the same time.
Build in Buffers.
It’s ok to say no! And in my case, it was often extremely unhealthy NOT to say no. I let people’s opinions of me dictate my schedule, when I should have been building my schedule around people and things most important to me. I refuse to fill my calendar to the unhealthy pre-COVID point. Does this mean I put less energy into friendships and grow more slowly in my career? Possibly (probably). But in the end, I’m doing what I need to do for my mental health and my family’s health, and that’s what’s most important to me.
Lower Your Standards.
As a recovering perfectionist, I often spent SO much time on complicated dinners, extra work projects, and trying to keep a spotless house with two little boys (spoiler alert: absolutely impossible). Once I had everyone home 24/7, trying to keep my house clean made me feel constantly behind and failing. I eventually realized I needed to change my standard, at least in this season, to “good enough.” I started having specific cleaning days on the schedule. If a room got a little cluttered, instead of dropping everything to take care of it, I told myself, “cleaning day’s coming.” Slowly, I trained my brain to be ok if everything wasn’t exactly right, which led to a calmer mom and a happier home.
Am I getting less stuff done than before COVID-19? Definitely. But I’m no longer basing my worth on my performance… and that’s probably the best lesson I could’ve learned from 2020.