So like all Americans, we are adjusting to this situation. Because we homeschool and are self-employed at home, our life is not disrupted nearly as much as that of many others. For those who are now working from home and their children are no longer going to school, this will be a huge adjustment. Working full-time from home and doing school at home is challenging, especially if you weren’t mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared for it. Although it isn’t geared specifically toward that situation, Realistic Expectations for Work-at-Home Homeschooling Moms has helpful suggestions that will apply. Feel free to share it with friends, in online groups, on Pinterest, etc.
My state (Michigan) has been one of the more aggressive states in terms of starting to shut things down. Schools were closed starting Monday, but most were closed last Friday which was probably helpful. It gave everyone three less days to be spreading the virus. Most churches were closed on Sunday. On Monday, restaurants and bars became carryout or delivery only.
Making Mental Adjustments
Even though I’ve intuitively suspected this was coming for several weeks, I’m still having to mentally adjust. It has happened so incredibly quickly and it is going to be like this for some time. I told Caroline Monday morning that I was pretty sure no one would be going back to school this year. About an hour later I read that the Ohio governor had said the same thing.
This is going to be a long process. Many weeks to possibly months of disruption. We all need to adjust our thinking. Our ability to mentally adjust in a positive way will be a big part of coming through this experience well.
The being at home doesn’t bother me too much. We’re all accustomed to a lot of family togetherness so we have that in our favor.
But I have to admit that when I wake up I am tempted with a sense of dread each morning, mostly battling fear that one of us will end up very sick and hospitalized. I have to redirect my thoughts, pray, and trust the Lord.
This experience is sure to stretch the faith of all of us.
How Can We Cheerfully Adjust?
So how can we cheerfully adjust to this situation? How we respond will significantly impact how those around us respond as well. Here are some things I’m thinking about.
Accept the Situation and Look Forward
There is nothing we can do to change things or go back. The Chinese government threw the entire world under the bus with their poor decisions and cover-up. Being angry about it won’t change anything right now. I am sure they will experience significant payback from many other countries when this is over. Accept where we are now and look forward, not backward.
Adjust Your Expectations
No one has been through something like this. No one on earth. Everyone is making it up as they go. This goes from the most powerful leaders in the world to the local government. We’re making it up as we go in our individual homes. We all need to adjust our expectations. We need to have an attitude of being willing to adjust and adapt as the situation unfolds. All leaders will make mistakes. It is inevitable. Adjust your expectations.
Pray for Our Leaders
The Coronavirus Task Force needs our prayers. Whatever your opinion of the people and their decisions, we are to pray for our leaders. One of the best ways to know what is going on so you can pray specifically is to watch at least some of the daily briefings they give. I’ve watched many of them and they are interesting. The average American has NO IDEA how much is happening behind the scenes at lightning speed. You might think the briefings would be depressing, but I haven’t found them that way at all. They are actually quite encouraging. Yes, President Trump rambles a bit at times. But the various leaders in different parts of the government give important updates and answer many questions.
The best way to watch them is to stream them on YouTube. I use the Fox News stream because they seem to be the only one at this time that allows you to start it from the beginning even while it is streaming live (if you join it late). If you watch these briefings, you will get to “know” the people making these huge decisions so you can pray for them more specifically and with a real person attached to the names you see in the news. They are real people serving our country in a stressful and exhausting time. They need our prayers.
Choose to be Cheerful and Laugh Often
I think this one is so important. For some people, this comes naturally. For others, it does not. We have to choose to look on the bright side each day. For example, I mentioned to David that it is nice to hear the children who live next door playing outside in their yard. They are normally in school and so we rarely see them out there during the school year. There is something cheerful about the sound of young children having fun and laughing. We all need to look for the good things like this.
And never underestimate how important it is to laugh many times each day. You need it and your loved ones need it. Make it a point to have fun, encourage humor, and embrace silliness that will make everyone laugh.
Make the Most of the Time
Many of us will have much more free time than we are accustomed to. Instead of running around to this and that responsibility, we’ll be at home. Don’t waste this opportunity by being upset, fearful, and depressed. Get moving and do something that will help you feel better about your home, your life, and the situation.
Yes, this is disruptive and challenging. We can dwell on that or we can take the approach I did with a snow day when I was a teacher. A snow day was the gift of time. Choose to make the most of this (very) extended snow day.
Make the Most of Your Relationships
Many people never have the opportunity to spend this much time with their loved ones. Rather than seeing it as an inconvenience or intrusion on your lifestyle, embrace the unique opportunity you’ve been given. Spend time enjoying your loved ones. Go out of your way to cultivate a deeper relationship with them. Look for ways to bless and serve them in ways that speak to their specific love language.
Make memories with your family. Play a game each night. Tell stories. Read books aloud. Watch a television series together. Make the most of these opportunities to be with your loved ones. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in front of you.
Use the Time to Learn New Skills
I saw an interview with a British young man who had been quarantined in Wuhan for forty days because he was sick. It was just him and his cat in a high rise apartment. He talked about the different things he had invested his time in – learning to cook properly, learning a language, reading books on his Kindle that he had always meant to get to, learning to paint, etc.
Now can be the time to try out the recipes you never get to, read the books that have piled up, and teach yourself a new language. Open the piano and work on favorite pieces from the past. Sew through your stash. Take up watercolor painting. Finish your cross stitch. Work on your digital scrapbooks. Take up knitting or crocheting.
Watch Things That Help You Escape
I’m naturally a person who thinks and processes information all the time. I learned long ago the value of turning my mind off by watching movies or shows that help me escape. It resets my mind and gives it a break.
Now is the time to re-watch favorite movies and television series. Watch things that make you laugh and take a break from the world around you.
Embrace the Outdoors
Open the windows for at least a few minutes each day. Let the fresh air into your home and listen to the birds. Get outside as much as you are able. Being out in creation has a big impact on your mental and physical health.
Use Twinkle Lights
Seriously. Caroline and I both use white twinkle (Christmas) lights all year. I have them around my office windows. She has them in her bedroom. I keep a little tree up all year. We keep them on the fireplace mantle. We have them on our deck year round (in garland in the winter and deck versions the rest of the year).
There is something inherently cheerful about white twinkle lights any time of the year.
Trust and Obey
Trust and Obey is one of my favorite hymns. I think this is a good reminder to all of us. We are called to trust the Lord and obey the Lord. If we seek to do that cheerfully each day, we will get through this to the other side.
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.
But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.
Be a cheerful blessing and stay healthy!