As I sit at my computer, rereading past blog posts and pondering the upcoming summer season, I am reminded of how very different the world is now from any other time in my life.
For me, summer usually includes the promise of warm weather, fresh produce, beach vacations, summer concerts, carnivals and fairs and all sorts of other outdoor gatherings.
This year, other than my fresh produce and warm weather, I suspect my summer will look much different. It will be simpler, whether I want it to be or not — and to be honest, I am ready for things to get just a little less simple and a little more social! So, how do you sustain the good parts of this social distancing mandate we are living in — more quality time at home to enjoy the things you love with the general grief that comes from losing those outside events and joys that we look forward to so much and have now lost?
While I am still figuring this out myself, I am finding that some of the new ways of doing things — shopping for my family, creating quality moments at home, staying connected with friends and loved ones — are staples in my life that can and probably should be sustained long after this current state of living has gone away.
Shop local: One of the big takeaways from our quarantine for me is how beautifully our smaller, local businesses adapted to the change and took care of us when we could not leave the house. When my usual stores failed to provide the foods I needed to feed my family, local businesses such as produce distributors, restaurants, creameries and dairy farms all stepped up, modifying their business model to include contactless front porch deliveries and curbside pick-ups.
While I am starting to return to grocery stores to get the things I need to feed my family, I plan to continue supporting those places that helped me do that when I could not. Supporting local business is something we should have been doing all along, but I believe this time has reminded me just how critical and special these businesses are. Either choose one business that you want to support regularly or challenge yourself to discover a new one to support, at whatever frequency or duration works for your budget and needs.
Discover your family’s new favorite ice cream flavor or pizza — and help another local family continue to feed their family, too.
Little Things are Big Things: This week, I took a glass of freshly brewed iced tea outside and sat on my steps to drink it. Our family dog, Sarah joined me and I sat and watched birds, bunnies and squirrels exploring our backyard. I didn’t feel rushed to get back inside to do chores, I didn’t feel worried about being late for any outside obligations — I just enjoyed a moment of relaxation and a little contemplation. It did make me realize how rare those moments actually are. Before mid-March, our days were full. School and work routines, the kids’ extracurricular activities, combined with cooking, cleaning, laundry and part-time jobs all made moments like that iced tea on the deck an indulgence I rarely had time to partake in. I know the world will eventually return to something that resembles the life I had before — and we will fill it with all the things that we have missed.
I am making a personal pact with myself to not forget how blissfully perfect those simple, unscheduled moments are — and how critical they are to self care and happiness. Take a few minutes to either mentally note or document five things that made you happy during this time. Was it the family movie nights you finally had time for, the peaceful Saturday mornings with a chance to sleep in — or maybe it was the 10 minutes of sipping sweet tea with your best friend that gave you joy. Repeat these as much as you can, no matter how busy your life gets. Those little moments will give you strength to get through those not so carefree moments, I promise!
Home as Oasis: One of my favorite things about sheltering in place at home is the realization of how much I love my house. Sure, it has lots of warts, it needs some TLC in places and I have tons of ideas for ways to improve it — but spending so much time in the walls of our home has helped me better appreciate it. Last summer, we spent a bulk of our time away from home — we went on two week long vacations and did lots of day trips. This summer, there are no vacations and our home will need to serve as both homebase and staycation central. I spent some time mourning the outside summer activities we always look forward to before I started planning for fun ways that our home base will serve as the epicenter for this summer’s family memories. While I cannot wait for the summers that are full of 4-H fairs, summer concerts, beach days and Disney trips, I am also going to make the most of the memories that we can make at home. While the activities will certainly vary based on your family, whether you have kids at home or where you live, use this time to make your home a destination for fun. Have themed nights where dinner and that night’s activities are based on a particular theme that your family likes. Put a firepit in your backyard and decorate the outside with festive lights and outdoor speakers. Learn how to make new recipes and beverages and have a day each week that you debut them to your loved ones. Schedule a dance party night and use your holiday lights to turn your living room into Club Casa. Surprise your kids with an impromptu water gun fight in the backyard.
These are all fun ideas you can do at home this summer — and continue as traditions long after our sheltering in place and safer at home directives are over.
(Editor’s Note: Kristine George is a freelance journalist who resides in Easton.)