6 takeaways from eight months of social distancing

As I write this, second (third?) wave of Covid is spreading everywhere so fast, from here in the Seattle area to the rest of the US and of course Canada, Europe and Pakistan.. Lockdowns, stay-at-home orders are either here already or coming..

Of course there’s also hope for the vaccine now so there’s that bright side.. But till that happens, we all have to do our part, by skipping our holiday gatherings and travel, and making the responsible choice to keep to our own households and our own cities .. I know for many it might feel worth taking the risk since most of us would recover even if we got sick, but seeing how deadly the virus is for those in the high-risk category means that we can’t be only thinking about our own selves here guys.

Last week stricter guidelines were announced in our state and I know people are feeling it because while I agree it’s important, yes it’s hard.

It doesn’t mean much change for us since we’ve been been following the guidelines from our state and country pretty strictly since March when our first stay-at-home order had been enforced (scroll down to the end for what our life has looked like). There have been ups and downs of course, it hasn’t been the easiest but we’ve found a way to survive (even thrive in some ways) for all this time so it isn’t as hard as one would imagine it to be.

I thought I’d share some things that have been vital for surviving this year.

6 takeaways from eight months of social distancing

1: Taking it one day at a time. This has been really important for me to stay positive.. to focus on living IN THE MOMENT. Every time I start looking ahead too much, I end up really nervous about this whole situation. Instead taking it one day at a time, focusing on what I can do today, how I can make today better and kind of letting go of big plans in the near future really helps me right now.

2: Create rituals and family traditions. Because traditions and rituals make regular things feel more special, right? We have a family movie night already but recently we decided to start a dinner-with-a-show night midweek and it feels so exciting (especially because we always eat on the dining table). A few ideas: movie nights, game nights, book clubs, dessert nights.. anything you can come up with. As winter months come in, I especially love leaning into the Danish concept of hygge.. candle light, cozy-ness, together-ness, warm drinks and more.

3: Personal time over family time sometimes. With so much time together as a family and with your spouse.. there are bound to be days where you’re rubbing each other the wrong way .. I’ve realized it’s better on such days to do your own thing instead.. a fav hobby, books, movies, connecting with family and friends outside the home.. anything that makes you happy especially for us mamas to give to our families from a better place. (i know this is harder with younger kids, but maybe these are the days to embrace screen time guilt-free).

-Eg: normally we chat and don’t let Anya listen to audiobooks in the car but we’ve made an exception on such days / I am also loving going to bed earlier and spending that time on my own to do something I enjoy when I can feel myself getting overwhelmed.

4: Embrace imperfect. This isn’t the year to be the best mom, wife or anything really haha. I’m learning to give more room to everyone in our family (including myself) for messing up (again and again), having bad days and just being a porcupine and to forgive more. Embracing imperfection in ourselves, our families, our homes and this world right now is SO IMPORTANT.

(This also means that some days despite knowing all of these tips I’m sharing here, it’s hard for me to stay hopeful and positive, and it’s OKAY)

5: Look big picture. I’ve been finding myself repeating this inside my head and telling Anya a lot; this WILL end. So what if we can’t meet friends inside our homes right now, so what if we aren’t able to fly to see family, so what if we can’t eat inside a restaurant, so what if we have to say no to something others might still be doing.. it’s only for now, it’s only temporary. We will go back to life as it was.

6: Lastly, find safer options to do things. Plan a virtual coffee with friends or grab a hot drink, dress warm and meet safely outside for a walk. Get in touch with old friends over voice notes (ever since my sister got me into them there has been no looking back), plan a weekly family call. I don’t think Bilal really feels it much being the introvert that he is but Anya and I have needed our connection with our friends so finding a way to stay connected has really helped. I honestly don’t feel a difference except for missing having friends over.

If you’re curious, this is what our situation has been like: Bilal’s work has been from home throughout, Anya of course has had her school virtual and I haven’t had her in any in-person after-school activities at all (of course that has meant spending more time with her ourselves). I did start sessions back in June but I’ve been shooting outdoors (no indoor sessions, events or weddings) and following all of the safety guidelines, with masks and keeping a safe distance. Our family hasn’t stepped inside anyone’s house since March and no one has stepped into ours, not even my cleaning lady. Groceries have been mostly online though I do go in maybe once in a week or two. We’ve only been in any other store (besides grocery store) twice maybe and a restaurant a couple times to pick up food. All of these with masks since our state mandated masks in public since a long time. We have met up with friends outdoors and within the 5 friends per week limit that our county required and with masks especially if we are closer than 6 ft. We’ve also been getting food delivered pretty regularly since the beginning and of course getting packages delivered frequently too. And of course outdoor activities have continued, walks around neighborhood, visiting local parks, recently let Anya into playgrounds too sometimes. The way Bilal & I are, we like looking at science and what the latest research about the virus is and how it is believed to be spread and keeping that in mind as we try to minimize exposure.

(As I share these I do realize how privileged we are even in this situation – being healthy, being together, a house with enough space for us to do this, job and financial security (Bilal lost his job early this year and so was looking for a job at the beginning of this pandemic; so we know the fear of being on that side), having a backyard, being able to go outdoors safely. So many people have struggled in so many of these ways that we haven’t had to worry about at all. If you are in a similar situation, do understand that we are speaking from a place of privilege)

Do you have anything else to share?

Love, Nataliya

(Photos from me enjoying playing with my camera before dinner time one evening)