Working Remotely And The Pandemic

Working Remotely And The Pandemic

Given our pandemic security response, I now have enough time working remotely to form an opinion on it. I have wanted to try it for some time, ideally working remotely for a summer from Montana or Florida while my kids are out of school, and have been curious what advantages it really had. Now that I have that chance, I realize there’s an added dimension of not leaving the home on the weekends that makes this different than the experience I had originally envisioned. Here are my thoughts on it so far.

The Good

The entire pandemic has forced us to rethink our lives and find ways to work together at home. We have found establishing a regiment for the boys by limiting them to one activity at a time and keeping them varied is needed to keep them engaged and not running amok in the house. We also give them little treats so it doesn’t seem like such a scary time and jobs around the house so they feel like they’re pitching in. I have noticed more cohesion in our family altogether, our youngest son is talking more, and our oldest son’s reading skills are improving noticeably. My wife and I actually get to have extended conversations that don’t revolve around the next day’s priorities and it’s been good for us as a couple.

Because we don’t leave the house for anything besides the rare grocery run, we have learned how to prepare better food at home as we can’t rely on carryout to spice up a bland meal week. As foodies we enjoy well cooked meals and lots of variety, and that’s forced us to focus on doing more with what we have on hand. Our attempts here have been to find those little techniques that add up to better meals not only as a comfort, but also because we must eat our leftovers now, so they better be good. For instance, I have mastered the pot roast and can prepare tender beef with lots of flavor by incorporating red wine and more accurate cooking times. It’s also forced us to dig deeper into the pantry for foods we bought longer ago but abandoned. Have you ever prepared wheat berries? They’re really not that bad with feta and caramelized onions.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, I have transitioned my hectic morning commute for training time. I used to notice that my heart rate would increase during heavy traffic because of the stress involved, but now I spend that time on my bicycle trainer. My legs are the strongest they’ve been in years as I can squat and lunge with impunity. My cardio health is much improved and I’m excited for this year’s race (which probably won’t happen unfortunately).

The Bad

We miss our spring traditions. Every year we visit the Cincinnati Zoo to see the tulips for our spring family photos and marvel at the “zoo babies.” Unfortunately that has come and gone. We also celebrate Kings Island Opening Weekend but that’s postponed until later this summer (hopefully). There will also be no Easter Bunny Train rides either, which was a favored tradition also. There’s just not much to look forward to except what we can do at home. There is no relief from cabin fever except a trip to my gun club where we can hike and fish, but the weather is just starting to break for it. We will probably go there more often.

Our outside renovations for the deck and backyard have taken a hiatus. We had planned on skipping our annual spring break vacation to Florida to focus our resources on this project but I don’t see the point of risking our lives to visit Home Depot. Our current operating plan is that If it can’t be delivered we won’t be taking it up for now.

I also believe people would put missed interactions with people as a “bad” but this has been a mixed blessing. Honestly I’m talking to more people than I have in the past few years via phone and other apps. I even had an old friend reach out who I haven’t talked to in years just to check in. But, on the other hand the shoots, birthday parties, and family meals we have for Easter are on hold.

The Ugly

The worst part has been the sudden shift in routine that makes the weekdays and weekends blur together. I have also had trouble falling asleep and waking up, mostly because of the pandemic and economic worries that keep me up at night. I have taken to consuming less news and planning for more disruption in our personal lives, but these things weigh on people as they do me. The stories of healthy middle aged people falling ill and dying have not gone unnoticed.

I am hopeful we all bounce back quickly and can “reopen” the economy as soon as safely possible. I think a few more months of social isolation and economic conditions will worsen to the point that we’re all going to suffer tremendously and move beyond the brink. It’s a sad thought realizing where we were at as a country just a month ago.

Coping

Given the circumstances, I am focusing on improving myself and our family while we isolate ourselves. I have a tremendous amount of reading to catch up on and want to continue getting healthier just in case I do fall ill. I am telling myself that when this is over I will be stronger for it, and we will all be better off. It is the only thing one can do to get through it.

Muntjac at the Columbus Zoo
Muntjac at the Columbus Zoo
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