What We’ve Learned During COVID-19
Trying to find the positive during a time when we are anxious, nervous, and living in fear can be hard, but focusing on what we have learned about ourselves and how we are growing as people has brought a glimpse of happiness and light into our days.
We are excited to share with you what each of us has learned about ourselves during this time.
We are all experiencing this together, and all the emotions that come with it, some more than others. Since we cannot see each other and catch up face to face, we have to make use of what we have to check in with family and friends. During this time, I have had girls nights via Facetime, and have zoomed with Justin’s family on a few occasions. Being around people gives me energy; I am a total extrovert. I struggled a lot at the beginning, but the zoom and facetime calls and connecting via text has helped me fill my desire to communicate and be with others. I will not take a girl’s night out, a trip to watch live music or having family visits for granted.
While I am blessed not to be experiencing quarantine alone, it is hard to be with someone 24/7. When quarantine started, we were getting accustomed to living alone without roommates. While it has been amazing, getting to enjoy new TV shows together, closing out our nights with board games and ice cream dates. This time has made me realize how important it is for us to have our own space and time alone. The moment quarantine restrictions were lifted in Tennessee, I made a hair and nail appointment. The 8 hours we spent alone that day gave us the chance to miss each other again. It was so exciting to come home and hear all about the day Justin had and to show off my new look and share everything that happened that day.
We are entertainers; we love to have guests in our home just as much as we love getting to travel and see new places. At the beginning of 2020, we set a goal to spend one weekend a month visiting a new location. I was so bummed looking back at this goal a few months ago and realizing that as soon as we started, it had to stop. I took traveling for granted these past few years. Once quarantine and the high risk of contracting COVID-19 is over, we have talked about visiting somewhere tropical. It had been my dream to see that crystal clear, turquoise water, and I can’t think of a better way to start traveling again.
I wasn’t looking for a quarantine to slow me down, yet here I am. And, I have to tell you that I’ve learned so much about my kids, my marriage, our family, my work, and our team during this pandemic. Here are a few lessons I’m taking away that I hope to apply long-term:
- Kids need a safe place to communicate what they’re feeling. About a month into our sheltering in place order, I was on a pre-interview with Jen Hatmaker and “The Today Show” preparing for her upcoming segment. Jen was recounting a conversation she’d had with her daughter during one of their recent family discussions about COVID. We got off the phone and I immediately called her up and said, I want to know more about this family discussion you had. We’ve never had a family meeting and the boys are 13 and 10. That changed the very next day because of my conversation with Jen. And, I’m here to tell you that it’s the single biggest catalyst for honest conversation we’ve ever had in our family. We laid ground rules. Everyone takes a turn sharing their feelings about whatever they want to discuss – the coronavirus or last night’s dinner. No one is allowed to respond in defense. It’s a safe place for honest, open communication and you can talk about anything you want. We’ve had two additional family meetings since, both called at the request of one of our boys. And both times they’ve said, “I need to talk about something with no worry about how you will respond.” Whoa!
- Getting outside changes me. I’ve been cooped up in this house for months – all four of us – eating, working, sleeping, playing. It’s been so emotionally draining. But with one bike ride around the neighborhood, one walk around the block, one family basketball game, one magazine reading session on the porch I feel like a new person. Even if it’s only for a very short time, getting myself some fresh air changes my whole being. As a part of getting outside, we started a weekly family photo challenge where we took a walk together and captured pictures of something that brought us joy. When we returned, we voted on one image that won the challenge. It’s been a fun new tradition (we stole the idea from some close friends) and it changes your perspective greatly as you intentionally look for beauty with each step.
- Baseball is so much more than a sport to watch our kids play. From March through October, you can find the Adams family near a baseball diamond. Both Dixon and Thackston play travel ball and our lives revolve around their team schedules. I wouldn’t have it any other way. With the onset of sheltering in place and quarantine came a sudden halt to all things surrounding the sport. No practices. No games. No team meetings. No interaction with other parents. It’s the one thing our entire family has mourned during this season. One night at dinner we went around and shared one thing that has been a pleasant surprise about being isolated and one thing we each missing. Unanimously we miss baseball. The community of families we share life with bring such value to our lives. Baseball goes well beyond runs and strikes. The development of our boys, the camaraderie of the team, the life lived together – we realize how much the sport enriches our lives.
- I love my home, especially when it’s tidy. Until this season, we were constantly on the go, hardly ever at home except to sleep. Being here every moment of every day for months on end has taught me how deeply I love what we’ve built here within these walls and how much joy is derived from making it beautiful for our family. I’m also a much happier and better Heather when it’s clean and well-organized.
- There’s something to be said for showering and putting on real clothes. Right after waking and exercising, I shower and put on clothes like I’m leaving the house. The simple act of dressing changes my entire perspective on the day and my ability to tackle it.
- A consistent schedule is a game changer. By simply asking the boys to create their own schedule for the next day and sharing our own, we’ve been able to manage a lot of expectations within our family. The schedule has also brought order to chaos and normalcy to an upended life. It has allowed us to thrive in a hard season.
- I was built for community. I miss hugs. I miss glasses of wine with friends while our kids run around and play together. I miss feeding tons of friends pizza after a ballgame and letting the boys jump in the pool and eat popsicles late into the night. I miss talking about our recent parenting woes or the deal I just got on that super cute dress. I miss cheering for the girls’ basketball team before Dixon’s game started. I miss Field Day and Grandparents’ Day and seeing high schoolers stand awkwardly for all the prom photos. I miss people and I realize now how critical it is for my own self care that I regularly surround myself with these moments and cherish the way they feed my soul.
I always knew I valued relationships, but being physically separated from my friends and family has shown me how much these people mean to me. We’ve missed girls night and family dinners, cookouts and holidays, double date nights and fire-side hangouts, baseball games, weddings, and graduations. Instead of wallowing in all we were missing, I looked ahead. That’s how I relieve stress. I planned trips and dinner parties, our Memorial Day pool party, and all the hugs I would give when we could finally be together again. And now that these things are beginning to happen, I am giddy. I soaked in every single second of this weekend with my friends and family. We stayed appropriately apart (no hugs, sadly), but we were still together.
And on the flip side of the coin, I’ve found a new appreciation for my relationship with my husband, Jake. While I am used to working from home every day, my husband is a social creature who loves his job and being with people. He was laid off for some time, so we used that time to pour blood, sweat, and legitimate tears into our home. We worked on converting an unused room in our 80-year-old house to a dining room. It’s stunning, and I can’t get enough of it. I will always think back to working on it with Jake during quarantine. Renovations are hard, so looking back, it probably wasn’t the best time to take on such a big task. I worried we’d let the stress and anxiety get the best of us – both of the renovation and the pandemic. I am pleased (and shocked) to report that we made it through without one single fight. I truly feel like we could do anything together, side-by-side.
Overall, I’ve learned that life is beautiful when you slow down. While I can’t say I’m grateful for the financial, mental, and emotional toll quarantine took on me and my life, I am filled with gratitude for the perspective it has given me. I am lucky beyond measure. I won’t take time for granted anymore.
From Devin Lee:
Like many of you, the stay at home order rocked my world! Before COVID-19, my husband and I were too BUSY. We had something most nights of the week and weekend. In the first week of being sheltered at home, I thought we’d be so bored but we honestly enjoyed the slower pace of life. We sat on our porch for the first time and got to know our neighbors, we found new shows, took a family walk nightly and so much more. We have said over and over again that we never want to be as busy as we used to be. Even in the process of getting back to our new normal, this has been HARD but we’re committed to slowing down and enjoying the quiet more.
My favorite takeaway during this season came from watching my husband work while we were at-home co-workers. One, I learned more about what he does day-to-day, which was interesting and helps me understand his job more. But most importantly, seeing him in action taught me so much about his strengths (some I didn’t even know). For example, I witnessed him continuously motivate his team effectively, so now he gives me a motivational speech every morning. I also learned we can work for 5 weeks, 10 feet away from each other and not hurt each other – HA!
This entire experience has been a rollercoaster. When I look back on the emotions and conversations we were having back in March, compared to the way things are going now in May, things have changed drastically on a weekly basis.
The most impactful experience I’ve had during this time has been the cancellation of our dream wedding. Like so many other couples, my husband and I were unable to host our “big day” with friends and family this spring due to the pandemic. But despite this devastation, we chose to go ahead and say our vows in a private ceremony with our pastor on our original wedding date.
An incredible lesson that I’ve learned from this experience is that I have, indeed, found my life-partner. When we had to make the decision to postpone our wedding celebration, we both naturally agreed that this would not mean postponing marriage.
Through the mental, emotional, financial and physical challenges this quarantine has presented, we’ve remained strong. And if we can persevere through this, I’m confident that we will continue to grow together in the challenges that are ahead.
I have had the unique opportunity to experience more than one new thing in the past few months. When we entered into quarantine, I was still in my first trimester of pregnancy. I was experiencing extreme sickness, fatigue, all of the fun things that go along with those first few weeks of the journey to motherhood. When quarantine began, I was used to being at home – I had been at home sick January, truly! What changed the most, was having the “option” to get myself out of the house was suddenly taken away.
Because I was pregnant, my whole family went on lockdown. They immediately started socially distancing themselves in an extreme way. I am so grateful for this, because they have still been able to go along on this journey with my husband and I every step of the way. Though it is sad to go to appointments alone, as spouses aren’t allowed in the office, our gratitude is through the roof for this life growing inside of me amidst such chaos and uncertainty. I did not anticipate being pregnant during the pandemic, and it has certainly come with it’s own set of challenges. However, we have a great support system and are truly grateful to be safe and sound.
During this time, I, as well as many of you I am sure, have learned that our lives were too busy before COVID-19. We ran ourselves ragged – something most nights and weekends, never taking the time we needed to properly rest. Slowing down has allowed me to notice even the tiniest of movements in my belly. It has taught me to live for someone other than myself. Here I am, now 23 weeks along in my pregnancy, and my husband and I are in awe of the new life we are welcoming. We cannot wait to find out who she will be and dream of the great things she will do. We have been able to find a true light in the darkness, and for that, I am grateful.
Living though COVID-19 has been a completely new season of life for myself and my son. There have been many takeaways and I’ve learned how to adapt to the new normals of life. Being at home with a baby all day by myself has taught me how to have more patience during challenging times. I have realized the importance of being more intentional in “seeing” family and friends through Zoom and FaceTime.
A lesson I learned quickly was to create and establish a daily routine so there could be a sense of normalcy during these tough times. A new routine with my son is having many more hours of playtime and being able to take a walk when needed. I have truly loved being able to spend all day with my son, and not take for granted being able to hug a friends neck or gather together with friends and family.
Instead of scrolling through social media, watching the news or taking a nap, use some time today to be positive, think about, or better yet write down, what have you learned about yourself during COVID-19. Our hope is that after things are back to normal, we take the lessons we learned about ourselves and use them to make a positive change and never take for granted the little things in life.