I saw a funny video on Facebook the other day about our true feelings regarding our re-entry into life now that COVID vaccines are becoming more readily available and restrictions are lessening. The video was so humorous because it put words to the internal conflict many of us are feeling between how we actually feel about hints of life returning to normal versus how we think we should feel or how others around us feel.
It’s now been over a year since most of the world locked down and what we thought was a few week “pause” has dragged on so long many of us have forgotten what “normal” looks like. As opportunities to add things back in that have been “on hold” come across our paths, many people are eager to get back to life as it was, while some of us are discovering a surprising reluctance to getting back to normal. Of course, there are the things none of us are eager for (like regularly wearing pants with buttons again and discovering they no longer fit!) but all of us are thankful to see people again, so why the resistance?
For some there are lingering fears about the virus, health concerns and the effectiveness of the vaccine, which can add an element of anxiety to the thought of re-entry. For others there are concerns over forced vaccinations and continued restrictions once the threat is lessened.
For our family (and probably many of yours) one of the good things that has come out of the COVID restrictions is a slower pace of life. We have slowed down, adapted to evenings (and weekends and at times weekdays!) at home. While it has been a hard year missing connecting in person, we have embraced more family time at home and the flexibility to be “low key” and travel less. I thought we would be jumping at the chance to go back to birthday parties, in person church, play dates, sports, concerts and other social gatherings, but even thinking about that level of activity feels daunting. Last weekend we had the chance to have a great connection outside with some family and the next day with friends. It was wonderful to be with people and enjoy the sunshine! Yet this weekend I find myself thankful that we have no plans except around the house.
Over the past year, many of us have lost our social stamina and capacity to operate at the busy pre-shut down pace of life. It’s ok if you, like me, feel some dread at the thought of ramping up to your previously full schedule.
One reason you may feel dread at going back to “how it was” is you were too busy and now you can’t stomach the thought of running yourself and your family at that pace! With many things stripped away from our calendar and routine, we have a unique opportunity to choose which activities we add back into our lives. I would encourage you to evaluate each activity and decide whether you want to let it back into your life.
I would encourage you to spend some time in prayer with your spouse and seek the Lord for direction on the following questions: What are your goals and priorities for your family? What is restorative and brings joy or rest to your family? How much margin does your family need? Once you have His perspective, evaluate each type of activity with this lens. If it is restorative to your family and/or fits with your priorities, and still allows enough margin, then it is likely a good fit to add it back in. If not, consider leaving it out of your “new normal.”
Even if we only add activities back in that fit this criteria, the reality is we are likely still “out of shape” when it comes to the stamina for a fuller schedule. Just like if you haven’t worked out in a while, you wouldn’t expect you could enter back in at the level you were before the break. You may need to ease yourself and your family back into things that require you to leave the house! We have likely become accustomed to a slower pace with a lot more rest. We need to ease ourselves and our families back in so we can find the balance between rest and activity.