Like it or not, we’re all about to spend a lot more time at home with our families in the coming weeks. QuarantineLife is trending on social media, and the reactions to the prospects of being cooped up within our own four walls have been mixed.
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The most surprising reaction, at least to me, has been the number of people responding with anxiety at the prospect of having to do things such as teach their children for a few weeks or work at home and spend all day with their family.
For everyone dreading spending time with your family, allow me to offer up a different perspective: enjoy this time:
Be grateful. Take advantage of it.
For the record, I am not being cavalier. I realize for some people the government’s heavy-handed decisions will cause major stressors. In my area (Bucks County, Pennsylvania) word just went out that some businesses will be forced to close under the state of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 disaster declaration:
“All restaurants, bars and dine-in facilities will be closed. A six (6) foot social distancing is recommended. If at all possible, stay home and postpone in-person events.”
I know several people who own small restaurants and this decision will no doubt have a major impact in the coming weeks. So I understand the weight of what staying at home means for a lot of people, and I’m in no way minimizing those very real concerns.
However, what I’m taking more direct aim at are the seemingly high numbers of folks more “panicked” about what they’ll do with their families and children for the foreseeable future than they are about the pandemic sweeping the globe. “What will I do, being with my kids for that long!” is a common refrain on social media. I hope it’s mostly in jest, but with every good joke, there’s an element of truth. If we look at the way society is structured, the truthful part of the joke is that we don’t spend a lot of time with our families and children and are at a loss with how to deal with it.
As a culture, we’ve already accepted the concept that it’s the government’s job to train up our children. From a very young age, we are told the very best option to train up our very own flesh and blood is to get them up early, rush them off to a bus, and not see them again until later in the afternoon.
If you’re now home with your child who usually goes to public or private school, don’t just turn on Netflix and let the cartoons and shows roll. Take the time to look at what they are learning — and spend some time going over it with them. View this time not as a burden, but a blessing.
I’ve never been a fan of the ball and chain jokes, or the concept of “happy wife, happy life.” That’s not to say I don’t want my wife happy, of course, I do. But that sort of attitude positions our spouse as someone who is causing us problems, they’re a source of frustration in our life rather than a source of joy and partnership. It paints them as out of control creatures who need to be contained or appeased in some way, or else it won’t go well for you.
When we joke about having to spend more time with our family, children or spouse — we send the message that we don’t like spending time with them and we’d rather be doing something else. Perhaps the intention is to be funny or joking, but why would you think it’s funny unless you thought it was at least partially true?
If you’re now quarantined because of the coronavirus news, I suggest a new perspective on it: consider it a joy. Consider it an opportunity to try on life even closer to your family than you were before. You may even discover some things that could potentially be life-changing. Perhaps you’ll realize that maybe being at home with your children is more rewarding than the career grind. Maybe you won’t, and that’s fine too! There is no one, universal blanket lifestyle that works for every family.
What should be universal, however, is the joy we find in those closest to us. It should not be a burden to train up our children. It should not be a burden to be with your spouse for an entire workday. If you are struggling to enjoy time close to your family, I suggest looking deeper beneath the surface of your own life and honestly ask: why?
For me, whenever I’m frustrated with my kids or wife (it happens, we’re all human!) — I can quickly trace it to something selfish on my end. ‘I just want quiet time. I just want to watch a show in peace. I just wanted to buy that Harley Davidson but couldn’t because the dog needed surgery again…’ What’s the common denominator? I want. Putting myself at the center, leaving others in the wake of my selfish pursuits.
Once we’ve been mostly quarantined off from each other, there’s not a lot we can do about the situation as a whole. But we can absolutely control our attitudes. We can choose to approach this trying time with joy and hope, or we can choose to be frustrated, afraid and angry.
When we choose joy and hope in the midst of a trying time, not only does it benefit our immediate family, but it can help make you a light for Christ to others in a time of peril. Sometimes, little things — like a spirit of calm in the midst of chaos — God uses to point others towards him.
There are many frustrations and stressors that come along with a situation like this — but spending time with our family and training up our children should not be one of them.
Take heart, Christian. God is still on the throne. Let’s start living like it!