Things previously assumed that have now been called into question due to the lifestyle changes spurred on by the pandemic:
1- Couples need dates nights to remain healthy & happy. Ideally twice a month. No dates nights for the past 3 months and we seem to be doing okay. In fact, we both agreed on Saturday night that we didn’t miss them all that much. We are however both craving a date weekend (ie, have childcare for entire weekend & get to sleep in / relax / be together for more extended circumstances).
2- Running is the best (and my favorite) form of exercise. In my past life I was obsessed with mileage, training plans, races. I’ve run 4 marathons and many more half-marathon races. AND YET. I have run maybe 4 times since March, replacing my running workouts with strength/interval work a la Beachbody. Quite honestly, running is not fun in the summer here and I have (finally) realized that strength training is much more effective when it comes to physical ‘results’, particularly at my advanced age. I find I can get the same kind of mood boost from a challenging strength workout. The only thing I really miss is listening to podcasts on long runs! My podcast-listening time has really suffered recently.
3- Meetings & didactics are much better held in person. Yeah so – in some ways yes, but not all that much. And it’s not necessarily worth the hassle of getting everyone to gather in one place so often. If a meeting or didactic is worth having (ie: there are clear learning points or to-do items that require group brainstorming or decision-making), it can probably be held effectively online. We’ve held faculty meetings, clinical competency meetings, didactics, resident meetings, and more on Webex and they have been . . . fine.
(I do not think this extrapolates to young children, but for adult learning/work it is fine.)
4- I prefer to outsource my grocery shopping. NOPE. It is now one of my favorite activities. ALSO I have mostly stopped going to Whole Foods. One week I checked out and my cart came to over $500. Just no. I am currently doing a weekly Publix trip, always on Sundays. Some things I guy organic (usually the store brand, Greenwise) and for other things I just . . . compromise.
Meal plan/list is completed just prior to heading out so it’s fresh in my mind. Usually I cook Sundays + our nanny cooks on Tuesday & Thursdays. Saturdays of course = take out night 🙂 (MY FAVE)
5- I — and the kids — will go crazy if we can’t go on 32 outings every weekend, including play dates & community adventures. Yeah, no one has gone crazy yet. And in a way our days at home/around the neighborhood have been more relaxing than our prior lifestyle. I honestly never would have thought.
I’m sure our willingness to relax prior screen time rules has been part of this, and we are lucky that G takes a SOLID afternoon nap — gives everyone a break. But active mornings (with outdoor component) + lazier afternoons at home have been our current template and it’s been . . . fine. They find things to do.
6- My kids need to be enrolled in multiple structured formal activities (even at preschool ages). Yeah, no. I do want A&C to pick up a sport again — any organized sport/athletic activity of their choosing. And it would be great if they would each have *one* other thing (art, music, drama — pick one). But I think that’s plenty. And I also don’t think it needs to start nearly as young as we did — A was going to ballet at 3. It was cute but really . . . was it all that impactful or necessary? Or just something to do because it was there?
7- It would be really hard to live on less than half of our salaries. MAJOR CAVEAT: I recognize that we are very VERY lucky not to have had our income impacted by the pandemic (YET, anyway — one thing I have learned during this time is that even jobs or career paths that seem rock steady may not be).
We started out 2020 really working on being more frugal. It is embarrassing to admit this, but when we were living in Miami Beach we were really only saving the minimum amount. We were tracking expenses (YNAB), but every time $$$ seemed to accumulate in our emergency fund there was some other giant bill due (like property tax or a broken A/C) that basically . . . brought it way back down again. Our savings rate was something like 5-7%, I think, and that was basically just the $ that was dumped automatically into retirement plans.
We are spending significantly less now (and also earning a bit more), and when I did the calculation the other day I realized that at least from Jan-May, we spent just over half of our take-home pay. And this is after funding 403(b) / 457 plans for each of us. I am really happy about this. (CAVEAT #2 – we have not yet filed our 2019 taxes and this may put in a significant dent. Documents are all in; waiting for our accountant to finish! Suspenseful.)
Some of the expenditures will come back eventually I am sure (family travel!) but I think a lot of this is due to the much lower cost of living in our current home/area. (Yep, we moved in Jan 2019 and we probably would have done well with saving last year too, BUT we couldn’t sell our house and thus spent the entire year paying mortgage & rent AND sold at a loss. Oh well! Getting through that was actually good practice living below our means.)
8- I need to have many trips & adventures to look forward to in order to be happy. So – I don’t feel like “zero” is the right number. But I had 4 trips planned between March and June and not going on any of them was actually . . . kind of a relief. I remember looking ahead at my 2020 schedule and thinking “Really SHU? That’s kind of . . . a lot.” But all of the opportunities / conferences seemed worthwhile at the time.
I think that one big trip/year and maybe some smaller ventures to see family is probably about right for us. AND a couples weekend or two (as noted above).
9- I need to see my friends in person in order to feel connected. I have . . . not missed having a social life? I don’t know what that says about me. But I mostly haven’t. I have enjoyed Zoom chats every other week with my college friends (although the last one I was solo-wrangling the kids while on it b/c Josh was at work, and that was tough). We did a Facetime cocktail hour with our local friends on Saturday and that we nice, too. But I am not craving a ton more.
I could happily go another 12 months (or years . . . ) without big work parties/social events. Don’t tell anyone. I would love to go out for a happy hour every couple of months. That would suffice 🙂
I DO miss seeing local family. We haven’t ventured to see Josh’s parents (40 min away in our old neighborhood) for health reasons. But maybe a socially distanced trip soon . . .
10- Summer camp is essential for kids. Apparently it is not. 2 weeks in and mine are doing fine following the prior schedule. Annabel loves her workbook (which means it is probably slightly too easy . . . but whatever). G is going to hopefully start some swim lessons at our house. I am not sure “camp for the entire summer as default” will be something we plan on in the future even in post-pandemic times.
WELL. THERE YOU GO. I have a packed week up ahead so . . . posts after this may be short.