For many people, especially stay-at-home moms and those who already telecommute for work, a quarantine or stay at home order means life hasn’t changed much. How should we respond to those around us experiencing great upheaval in their lives?
Around mid-March, life in the United States started to look much different. For some it happened in a blink of an eye and for others the directives came rolling out slowly. In our state the governor issued an executive order for schools to close, restaurants to close dining rooms, and for anyone that could telecommute, to do so. We weren’t under an actual stay-at-home-order, (and still aren’t) but we were told to practice social distancing and personal responsibility for staying home as much as possible.
The kids had been at school on Friday and by Sunday night we knew they weren’t going back the next week. Then the following week was announced as well. And now we are at home for the foreseeable future and our district put together a distance learning curriculum that would allow each family to work on school at home.
Here’s where my confession comes in.
This doesn’t feel that different from our normal life.
Obviously there are differences. I can’t bring the kids to the park to burn off energy. Instead we are going for long walks and running around in the green spaces at parks. It’s not nearly as fun for them as climbing up ladders and seeing how high they can go on swings, but at least it’s different from the walls of our home.
We can’t get new things from the library. Thankfully we had recently changed out our inventory but man it would be nice to add in some new things now that we are a month into this.
We can’t see friends and family. Talking to people over Zoom is great, but it’s definitely not the same. We miss our family members immensely and can’t wait to see all of them again in person.
Grocery trips require immense planning and adjusting to a store’s stock. We’ve been using Wamart Grocery pick-up and Target Drive-Up for most of our grocery needs right now. I also tried Sam’s Club for order pick-up as well. I wish they’d figure out a drive-up system so I didn’t need to go inside at all but it’s still better than walking around the store. I’m doing a lot of menu adjustments because many foods are out of stock by the time they fill my order. Thankfully we still have plenty to make it through.
But on a day to day basis when my husband goes to work and we all hang out at home? It feels like spring break. I’d say summer break but with temps barely hitting 50* most days we will stick with spring.
My husband still has his job and still goes to work each day so nothing has changed there. The required work for school takes my kids about 30-45 minutes in the morning so by the time I’ve finished showering and cleaning up breakfast they are done and looking for something to do.
But I know my story isn’t all that common. Not everyone is lucky enough to say that nothing major about their life has changed.
So how should we respond to others who are experiencing a major life change, immense trauma, or overwhelming fears during this crisis?
1. Show compassion
Be considerate, thoughtful, and kind to those around you. Just because your world doesn’t seem any different, doesn’t mean this isn’t completely life altering for someone else.
If you don’t need to be out, don’t be. If you don’t need the four packs of butter that are left on the shelf, don’t take them just because you are worried about running out eventually.
2. Listen without bias
This is hard for so many of us. We are all biased in one way or another. Our backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences shape the way we view the world. But this also means we can’t completely understand why someone else who is in our same position might be struggling with this crisis.
“If I’m doing fine with the shut down then Lulu should also be doing fine because both of us were stay-at-home moms before this and nothing has changed for us.”
And even if you and Lulu were great friends, you still don’t know everything Lulu has experienced or how her brain reacts to change. All you can do is listen and empathize. Don’t try and fix things, don’t try to compare your situations, just understand that this is how she is feeling.
3. Help how you can
Because your routine or daily life is mostly unchanged you might be able to help others in a way that will be a big blessing to another family. It might be as simple as dropping off a batch of homemade cookies to a friend or making masks for a local organization.
Maybe you can pick up some extra groceries for someone that can’t go out easily. We’ve had friends pick up items for us at a store and drop them off and we’ve dropped items off for others. No sense in running to a bunch of different stores for a few items when we can make a plan and help each other!
I’ve also swapped goods with several friends during this time. We passed on our old balance bikes to different families and my cousin dropped off a bag of clothes her daughter outgrew for our daughter.
Reach out to that friend facing a job loss or who was already immunocompromised and see how you can help. It might be as simple as a conversation to let them know they are in your prayers.
If you are struggling with life right now, please don’t stay quiet. There are lots of people ready to help.
You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 to talk to someone today. It’s free, confidential, and committed to offering emotional support 24/7.
You can also text the Crisis Hotline by sending HOME to 741741. There are live, trained crisis counselors on the other end to read and respond to your messages. They are trained to help with a variety of situations such as anxiety, depression, abuse, school issues, and even trauma with the current coronavirus.