It’s the first day of Spring and it looks like the enigmatic Corona virus has sprung us all into action. . . into slowing down enough to let us do things for ourselves, our loved ones and our family. Three years ago today, we landed in Lisbon, Portugal for the start of a family gap year that has now turned into three years and counting. We left the U.S. to have a different lifestyle; one that is slower-paced and more family-oriented. Now, as most of you, we have been on Corona Virus lockdown. And it has been a wonderful week of being closer to each other.
Think about it for a bit!
Now. . . we have time. Time for each other. Time for your kids. Time for yourself.
For those of you who don’t go to work and have been staying home (this is pretty much me for the past 3 years as a stay-at-home dad), that’s a lot of quality time you can have with your kids and/or loved ones.
It seems Corona has brought us all closer to each other, our family and friends. Haven’t you called your parents more often? Your family and friends? Have you contacted your friends?
It seems that Covid-19 (that name sounds like an alien invasion, doesn’t it?) has forced us all, the world too, to slow down a bit and think of what’s important.
And what is that? Maybe, family? Your kids?
That’s the whole reason why we moved here in the first place. To buy time! To have the time to focus on having a better family life one that enjoys more happy moments together. To have a healthier lifestyle; less stress, instead of stressful. It cost me my career and retirement money. But, seeing the kids blossom like springtime flowers under Andalusian sun, on a daily basis is (as the commercial goes). . . priceless.
Now, under coronavirus lockdown, we have even more time. And so do you!
For the past week, my wife and I were able to do these things with our kids: cuddle with the kids when they wake up in the morning, play chess, exercise, play paper football, make paper airplanes and launch them from our roof onto the empty plaza in front of the house, read and sing a Dr. Seuss book, teach them math and numbers, learn Spanish together, reinforce lessons on responsibility through housework (they wash dishes by hand, mop the floor, wash the windows, clean the toilet, fold their laundry, organize their toys and book shelves), make music, make videos, learn new songs, teach them guitar and palmas (flamenco handclaping), dance like monkeys do and bang on the drums like monkeys do, learn geography, count in another language, practice writing, draw, paint and meditate, build castles and play house, have movie nights and laugh out loud, have real conversations while doing all theses activities, tell them about what’s going on in the world and allay their concerns, give them the time and space to connect with their grandparents at their own pace. . . and sometimes simply do nothing at all, and just BE!
Personally, since I do not have to walk 3-kilometers to pick them up from school or drop them off at the Dojo (martial arts training center), I have a bit more time to practice guitar, salvage my pathetic Spanish, write a little and clean a lot, and even practice Zen meditation online since my old group established a virtual community because of corona virus.
As a family we were able to practice certain things that make our life and living in close quarters more harmonious, like speaking softly, moving slowly, responsibilities and priorities, of each, working together, helping each other out, and asking for help. These things require repetition, lots of it, especially for the kids. .. hell, for everyone in fact.
Now you have more time with your kids. More time with your family. You can play, learn, laugh and work together more. . . or do nothing at all. It’s your time.
Sure, there are challenges. Specially for all of us who live in small apartments, with no terrace or garden or backyard, or even a window to the street. You parents know that all too well. It’s a good thing that we have access to the “azotea” or roof that, you know, allows us to get some sun and fresh air, where the kids creatively came up with a game of paper football, since they cannot use their soccer balls.
There’s little money coming in for us. But that’s nothing new. And that’s not because of Corona. Probably a lot less of it, if the lockdown continues and the primary part-time breadwinner, my wife, Ania, loses her job.
It is what it is and we’ll burn that bridge when we get there.
For now, thanks to Corona, we get to do the things that we don’t normally get to do. Life with kids, 24/7! We get to operate and CO-operate in small spaces. In doing so, it brings us closer to each other. You never know what could happen next?
This could be the new normal. A great chance to really be with each other. To reach out. To help one another. And that’s a good thing, don’t you think?
A cool-ass mentor once told me, the greatest question you can ask yourself is, “What if?”
What would you do?
What do you think?
So, on this first day of spring from all of us here in the land of sherry, flamenco and dancing horses:
Be kind. Unwind!