Monday, May 11, 2020

By Chris Durkin

There’s no arguing that being at home now feels difficult, especially with children under foot. I tend to be on the cynical side, but lately I’ve found myself trying to find the silver lining. I don’t know if this is a coping mechanism or if warmer weather is starting to break through my crusty mood, but I’ve started to think about some of the cool things that are coming out of this mess and have compiled the Top 10 things I hope survive social isolation.

  1. Family walks. My family has been going on walks every Saturday morning. This gives us a reason to leave the house on Saturdays, my kids can run freely without having to worry about cars or other people and my wife and I get some sustained exercise as well. My kids are also learning trail etiquette and getting to explore the city we live in.
  2. Video calls. I won’t argue that Zoom fatigue is real, but we’ve found ourselves connecting with family and friends who live hours away far more often than before. We’re also connecting with friends in new ways as well. Many video call programs allow for screen sharing, so online games like Jackbox are much easier. I even have a friend who programmed the entire Settlers of Catan game into the Roll20 App!
  3. Vegetables. I didn’t know that my kids even liked vegetables until we hit stay-at-home mode. They never showed enthusiasm about eating vegetables before. After day two of social isolation, my 3-year-old son asked for celery. When I told him that he doesn’t like celery, he fired back that he ate it at daycare all the time. Now my kids are eating celery, broccoli, radishes and cauliflower by their request, not mine.
  4. Takeout. I tend to be pretty frugal, so we don’t dine out very often. When we do dine out though, we try to eat at local, independently owned and operated restaurants. We decided on day one that we wanted to be able to do our part to keep those places in business. Now we’re ordering takeout weekly, which really takes the edge off at the end of the week after cooking a lot more meals than we’ve had to in the past.
  5. Movie Night. Movie Night goes hand-in-hand with No. 4. Because my children are younger, we still do bedtime fairly early. If we want to get a movie in before bedtime, we usually have to eat dinner in front of the TV. On Fridays we grab food, set up a blanket and democratically vote on what to watch. I usually make some sort of dessert halfway through the movie. It’s become a great way to unwind into the weekend.
  6. Chalk. I don’t know which social media platform it started on, but someone started a movement of folks chalking inspirational messages on sidewalks. My wife drew up hopscotch on the sidewalk and added her own dance zone, zig zag lines, a dinosaur roar area and spots to hop from space to space. Our kids loved it, and so did almost everyone else who walked past our house. Soon the games were popping up all over our neighborhood. In addition to fun things to do on the sidewalk, on occasion we’ll stop at relatives’ houses to write messages and draw pictures on their driveways, and vice versa. There is nothing like the look of wonder on my daughter’s face when she sees our driveway full of fun and goofy drawings from her cousins.
  7. Working from home. I know that my wife and I are immensely privileged to be able to work from home. Not everyone is able to do so. I’ve heard from lots of folks that they’re surprised by how much more productive they feel because they’re at home. They say they’re able to concentrate on large-scale projects they would have never been able to get done in the office. While it’s likely that lots of people will continue to work from home until this pandemic is over, I hope folks are able to continue to do so across the board afterward as well.
  8. Time outdoors. I love being outside, and there’s nothing that makes me want to be outside more than having to be inside. Most days I have spent anywhere from one to three hours a day outside with my kids enjoying the sunshine, the fresh air and the garden. Before social isolation started, almost all my free time at home was consumed with chores. Getting outside never seemed to be a priority. Now that we have more time to do chores, we’ve been able to find more time to just be outside.
  9. Checking in before you shop (aka “Do you need anything”?). We are going to the store far less frequently than we ever have, and we’re spending more time debating whether or not it’s worth the trip to get something that we forgot (it’s not). Months ago, we probably would have never questioned taking that extra trip on the way home. Now, we’re just learning to make it without. That being said, we’re getting texted at least twice a week by someone saying, “I’m going to (fill in the blank), do you need anything?” Having some sort of app that allows you to transfer money back and forth makes it very easy to help shop for other people with very little actual contact. I imagine once everything is open again, we’ll probably be more prone to going back out for onions, but if I get a text asking if I need anything, I’ll be far less hesitant to say no.
  10. (Last, but not least) Tacos! We’ve had tacos at least once a week since social isolation started. I love tacos. I have literally eaten them for every meal and probably will continue to do since everyone else in my family is getting sick of them. The thing about tacos is that they’re delicious, they’re versatile, they’re cheap and they can be pretty nutritious if you do it right. I mean, pick your own favorite meal of choice, but I’m going with tacos.

Chris Durkin works in the Youth Services department of the FDL Public Library.