Family, Kids & Relationships

People Find Silver Linings In the “New Normal” of Sheltering In Place

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With so much uncertainty in the world right now, it’s easy to overlook the silver linings that peek out from the edges of these hunkered-down days, but they’re there! If we didn’t laugh at ourselves, our kids, and simply appreciate the little things right now, we’d be missing out on a lot more than just work and school! Of course, there are also many of us who are in full-on survival mode, and that’s a totally valid reaction to these times, too—if you fall into that category, we hope some of these stories brighten your day, and give you a reason to look for the silver linings in your own days, too.

Take family meals, for example. For years experts have told us that having regular family meals together has a positive effect on everything from a child’s developing language skills to their academic success, and even helps to establish lifelong healthy eating habits. Now that everyone’s stuck indoors and there’s no school, soccer practice, or ballet class to rush off to, families are finding that they’re sharing meals a lot more often. Even if they’re casual, enjoyed on the couch or outside picnic-style, more family meals are taking place across America, and that is a very good thing for everyone. As the experts at Stanford Children’s Health say, “When a family sits down together, it helps them handle the stresses of daily life and the hassles of day-to-day existence.” Can you think of a time in modern history where that’s been more important than now?

In addition to family meals, people are taking more time to connect remotely with people outside their household. Zoom happy hours, FaceTime calls, and virtual games have brought people together—even those who wouldn’t ordinarily spend time together under regular circumstances. “I have learned the importance of maintaining relationships with people I have neglected,” as one woman on Facebook put it. “It has made me actually make a phone call to someone I haven’t talked to in years.”

The pandemic’s silver linings don’t end there. From a mom who finally found the time to potty-train her little one to the many who’ve told us they’re teaching their kids how to sew, just like their moms and grandmothers did for them years ago, parents are finding plenty to be thankful for.

Mom of two, Sarah Davey, is grateful for the opportunity to teach her kids nitty-gritty life skills, like cooking and cleaning. “It’s been surprisingly satisfying to watch my son learn to deep-clean the toilets and my daughter plan and cook dinner,” she says. Many parents appreciate this opportunity to teach their kids other valuable life skills they wouldn’t learn in school, like balancing a checkbook (bonus: built-in math lesson!) or typing.

Adults are taking this time to learn all sorts of new skills, too. One woman told us she’s learned how to sterilize things in a pressure cooker (if you’re curious, she shares, “Put two inches of water into the pressure cooker & press the sterilize button. You can also sterilize masks in the pressure cooker”). Some people are learning to cook or bake homemade dishes, having fun trying new craft projects, or tackling home improvement or maintenance projects they hadn’t had time to address before—which is great, because the sense of accomplishment even from just trying something new has all sort of mental, emotional, and lifestyle benefits.

Sarah Kumagai, a physician in Tampa, Florida, says this whole experience has also made her appreciate her husband and partner in profound ways. Stuck at home with their daughter while she goes to work at a local hospital every day, he’s taken the reins on the little one’s schooling and spends his days keeping her safely occupied, so Sarah doesn’t have to think twice about her decision to go to work. “I realize now more than ever that I have a really good husband,” she says. 

Another family told us their hikes have reignited their collective love of nature and made them realize that having fun together doesn’t have to cost a penny. A simple walk in the park or even just around the neighborhood can bring everyone together to enjoy the benefits of fresh air and sunshine. A single mom of twin girls, Courtney Potter is having a similar experience. “It’s been really nice to see my girls finally play outside more,” she says. “I also feel like all this extra time together has helped us communicate better on all levels, and we’re actually happier as a family.”

It’s amazing what can happen when distractions are minimized!

And one of the biggest silver linings of all? How much more resilient our kids will be when this is over. After all, the only way to learn how to solve problems is to walk through them, leaning on your loved ones if you’re lucky enough to have them and strengthening family bonds. The more time they’re in quarantine, the more kids are likely to build up their resilience, giving their confidence a boost as they realize that they have the power to overcome any challenge. 

When it comes to silver linings, it’s hard to beat that. Have some of your own you’d like to share? Be sure to join our private Facebook group and let us know about your moments of sunshine in these difficult times.

The former Content Director at Parenting, and several other brands, Ana Connery is a writer and content strategist whose work appears in USA Today, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, Cafe Mom/The Stir, Momtastic, and others.