I live in California, which was the first state to require all residents to shelter-in-place. We’ve been under this condition since March 19, 2020. I’ve heard and read about the negative aspects of shelter-in-place. While my family and I are experiencing some less-than-awesome parts of this situation, I can’t say it’s been completely awful.
Overall, our family has really pulled together. We are more kind to each other than in times past, we have family dinners together every night, etc. The girls have been nicer to each other and doing things together – not only fun things like playing video games, but even things like helping each other organize/clean their bedrooms.
I am learning a lot about myself, and I’m also noticing some changes in how I operate.
Shortly before California started the shelter-in-place, my employer (an agency in the Federal Government) decided that everyone with the capability to work at home is required to telework full-time. I always imagined that I’d love to work from home on a regular basis; however, I’m finding that it’s not as enjoyable as I thought it would be. It’s been a struggle trying to feel like I’m still employed. I do my best to come up with work to do from home, but a big part of my job is teaching classes and doing other activities that require personal interaction. What I’ve learned about myself is that the part of my job I truly enjoy is the interaction between me and other employees. Now that I don’t have that part of my job, I’m finding that I don’t really love my job.
I’ve always been a “night owl” type of person. Historically, I love to sleep in; it would not be unusual for me to sleep until noon on days when I don’t have to be somewhere. I’m finding that this aspect of me has changed during the shelter-in-home. Since my husband and adult daughter aren’t working, and my 13-year-old isn’t going to school, I can only have time to myself at home if I wake up early.
On weekdays (my normal workdays), I make sure I’m up around 7:00 a.m., even though I don’t start working from home until around 9:00 a.m. I take the dogs out, have a couple of cups of coffee, and simply enjoy the quiet of my house while everyone else is still sleeping. I turn on my work computer around 9:00 a.m. and work throughout the day, while taking short breaks to talk to my husband, clean something, prep dinner, etc.
On weekends, I decided to get up around 8:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m., even though there isn’t anywhere to go since everything is closed. I’m finding that on most weekend mornings, I’m awake before my alarm goes off. I do the same thing as on weekdays, except for no checking the work computer for emails. If someone would have told me last month that I’d be getting up early on weekends when I have no plans, I would have laughed at them! Who thought I would ever have become a morning person?
Prior to shelter-in-place, I only cooked dinner two or three times a week; usually, I was too tired/busy to cook dinner. When I did cook, it would be something relatively quick and easy. Now, I’m cooking dinner at least five nights a week; with the other night or two being a “left-over” night or letting everyone “fend for themselves” and I bake myself a couple of potatoes with cheese. Not only am I cooking more often, but I’m trying out new recipes. I am a good cook, but I forgot how enjoyable it can be to cook from scratch.
Don’t tell anyone, but I’m starting to wish I could be a stay-at-home mom. Never in a million years did I think I’d say this! If I were not the primary bread winner, I’d seriously consider quitting my job and staying at home to take care of my family. I’ve worked for the Federal Government for over 26 years, and while there have been a few times when I wish I worked in a different job (within the government), this is the first time in my career when I wish I were able to not have a job outside of my home. I’m finding that I really don’t mind housework, I enjoy cooking/baking for my family, etc. I don’t want to tell them (especially the girls) that I enjoy all of this. Once I have to return to the office, they will start expecting me to continue doing the lion’s share of everything while they do virtually nothing.
One other interesting thing I’ve learned about myself. I’m comfortable in social situations, giving presentations in front of employees, etc., so people tend to assume I’m an extrovert. I am actually not an extrovert; I define myself as an introvert with some extrovert tendencies. I enjoy my own company, and I like being “inside my head” from time to time. I do not *need* to be interacting with people on a regular basis to feel “okay” or like I need lots of interaction to charge my batteries. However, until now, I didn’t realize how much of an introvert I actually am.
On a typical day, I get at least a couple of hours all to myself with no one at home (I don’t count people being asleep in bed as me being alone because they can wake up at any time). I can read, watch TV, etc., without sharing the house. I take myself out to lunch on a regular basis to read a book while someone else brings me food and drinks.
Now, I can’t do this. Restaurants aren’t open for dining room eating, and there is always someone at home with me. I’m almost climbing the walls because I’m not getting my alone time, and I’m not able to sit around people (say, in a restaurant) but not having to talk to anyone since I’m “inside” my book. David noticed that I was becoming extremely grumpy with everyone at home and he called me on it. It took me a bit to realize that the reason I’m grumpy and irritable is because I’m not getting any time to recharge my batteries.
I am now a point of leaving the house alone, getting some food through a drive-thru, and sitting alone in my car to eat and read a book. I just started doing this a week or two ago, and I’ve already noticed that I feel more like myself. I’m not as cranky and I’m not making (as many) passive-aggressive comments under my breath when someone in the family breathes in my earshot!
I’m looking forward to our state opening back up, but a small part of me will miss the shelter-in-place!