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What's Next?

by Katie Cullum

what's next?
What's next?

We may be seeing the light at the end of the quarantine tunnel. But what does that mean? Does it mean that everything will “go back to normal” soon?  What is normal?  And do you want to go back to it?

This pandemic has helped me see a lot of things that I normally would be too busy to see.  I can appreciate different things.  A few things I’ve noticed:

  • I’ve gotten a lot more relaxed about my appearance. I don’t feel the need to fix my hair just right or wear much (if any at all) make-up most days.  I still really enjoy the clean feeling, so showering is a must.  But most days, my hair air dries, and I just put moisturizer on my face.  When I was single, I wouldn’t dream of going to the store without being all fixed up.  I really relaxed on that when I was home on maternity leave, and now well, I’m fine with no make-up and hair up!
  • I’ve gotten more practice with being patient. This is not my strong suit anyway but being home has helped me practice it more than usual.  Between my son asking questions, trying to work, trying to pack and move, AND preparing/cleaning up for 3 meals a day…I get to practice.  I don’t always succeed in being patient, but I’m trying.
  • The weather can really help my day. A sunny day that we can get outside makes a world of difference. 
  • The first week, I really stressed about work. But I’ve had to relax some and work when I can, in between interruptions for my second job as a teacher.  It’s much easier to leave work behind when I leave the office.  But for now, I close my laptop as a signal that I’m done for the day. 
    woman in sunset
  • I wondered early this year how we were going to handle soccer, tennis, and baseball this spring. Well, turns out I shouldn’t have worried about that!  We had 1 soccer game and so far, nothing else. 
  • My son has gotten creative. I can let him play for longer periods of time, and he can certainly entertain himself (mostly with Transformers/Rescue Bots and Disc Golf).

Those are just a few things I’ve noticed.  But I’m glad that we’ve had this time to chill, to appreciate a slow-down even if we didn’t choose it. 

Have you ever made a budget?  Maybe it didn’t work very well one month, so you had to look it over and adjust it.  It could be that your budget has worked really well, but every once in a while you check it over just to make sure it’s still working.  And you find a little something to tweak.  Life works that way sometimes too. 

You may think that your “normal” life was just fine before.  But now that you’ve had time to slow down, you may find that your life needs a bit of tweaking.  Or you may decide that the “normal” was not a normal you really wanted.  So what now?

family picture
The Cobb Family on a family vacation

Take some time to digest what this pandemic has done.  Do you miss running here and there all the time?  You may miss running to the store when you need, but do you miss the constant running from one thing to another and then another?  If you don’t miss that, what will it take to change that?  What can you prioritize in the future?  My parents actually did this when I growing up.  I didn’t understand it then (I just thought they were mean) but I certainly get it now.  My parents never let us play softball in the summer.  Softball was the only thing going on in my small hometown, so if you didn’t play you didn’t do much.  I wasn’t very good since I had never played, so I didn’t play in college club games either.  The reason we couldn’t play? So that our family could go on vacation. I didn’t understand then that the memories made from that trip all over Texas, the big field trip to Washington, DC, or just camping at Petit Jean would last much longer than my softball skills.  We always had a family vacation, even if it was just camping in a state park.  I’m so glad now that we had those family vacations, and I’m totally okay with not playing softball anymore! 

So think through how this time has affected your family.  Yes, I’m sure there are tensions and trials.  You may be stressing about money and not working.  But what are some good things? 

many ways to go, all right
There are many directions to go, and all could be the "right" way for YOU and YOUR FAMILY.
  • What do you appreciate about this time?
  • What could you do differently in the future because of this experience?
  • Could you drop some extra activities that you don’t really enjoy?
  • Could you plan more family time?
  • Play more board games than video games?
  • Eat at home more, and teach more life skills like cooking AND cleaning up?

What’s next?  Take the time to dream about how you want your life to be, not what your “normal” life may have looked like before.  Chances are, “normal” may not come back around for a while and if it does, will that be what you still want? 

lying in grass, looking at sky

Dream a little dream about your future.  

Click on this link to Extension's Personal & Family Well-Being Resources for more information!