What COVID-19 taught me about simplifying my life

I spent the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 feeling really overwhelmed. By Thursday of each week I was pretty much running on fumes. I knew something had to change and I needed to start focusing on ways to simplify my life and just be less busy.

Like most, pretty much everything that kept me feeling hectic and out of the house came to a complete halt in March of this year and unintentionally, parts of my goal to simplify my life were accomplished through this situation. Obviously, a lot became more complicated simultaneously- working at home full-time while not having childcare, worrying about the state of the world- but a lot of the things that kept me running around all week completely came to an end.

I hope to never live through anything like the COVID-19 pandemic again and can’t wait for the feeling of regularity again. I just want to be sitting at a crowded restaurant table with a group of friends or family. I even want to go back to my cubicle!

But through the crazy circumstances, living with the virus brought me ways to simplify my life that I plan to carry over when life goes back to normal so I can live in a less frazzled and more fulfilled way.

Think long and hard before signing up for another activity. I previously thought, the more activities, the better. We’re learning and accomplishing more that way! That line of thought (for myself and my daughter) completely wore me out. She was signed up for things that kept us hectic on the weekdays that she didn’t even like to do.

Once all the activities had to end in March, it was a good reflective point on this mindset. It’s not worth it to keep yourself so busy on a weeknight for something you don’t enjoy. Going forward, we’ll keep extracurricular activities to one or maybe two things per person, and make sure they are things that we really want to do instead of things we feel like we should be doing. When a new option comes up, I’ll think long and hard before signing my daughter up for it, and make sure it’s something she truly is interested in and wants to stick with.

It’s more fun to stay home than I thought. I’ve never been much of a homebody, so quarantining and social distance was something I knew I would initially have a tough time with mentally. However, the more time we spent at home, the more I realized that we can make it fun. Staying at home doesn’t have to be all sitting on the couch, channel-surfing on the TV. It’s been nice to use this time to start new family traditions, like our Fancy Italian Dinner Night. We make a more complicated meal, turn on music, and take our time eating. I’ve found that if you’re intentional about how you use your time, being home can be fun, and is a much more relaxing way to unwind on evenings and weekends than being out and about in crowded places.

Additionally, I’ve found ways to do day-to-day things at home that I used to do out of the house and it’s really simplified my daily schedule. This year we saved up to buy a Schwinn IC4 indoor spin bike, which is compatible with the Peloton app. Having workout equipment right in my basement that I really enjoy using has been one of my best investments. After or before a long day, sometimes I just really don’t want to get myself to the gym (and sometimes the daily schedule doesn’t allow for it), but I do genuinely like to exercise. Having this has been a game changer.

You don’t have to be in-person to fill your cup with friend time. When the pandemic first hit I assumed I would feel really, really isolated, but I actually ended up having a lot of interactions with friends and family that filled by cup. FaceTime, Houseparty, and group texts and emails actually kept me in close contact a lot of the time with people I love. Before the pandemic, I never really used video chatting apps before, and so unless we were in person together, I didn’t interact with out-of-town friends and family very much. That’s something that will definitely change going forward. Sometimes schedules get so busy that a lot of in-person time with people just doesn’t always fit in. But now I’ve realized it doesn’t mean my social interactions need to languish during those times. A quick FaceTime or a funny thread on a group text can really brighten my day.

 

What are some lessons learned from the pandemic that you’re planning on carrying over when life returns to normal?

 

 

Brigette
Brigette lives in North Liberty with her husband Brian, energetic daughter Kate (October 2014) and their two cats, Penny and Olive. Originally from the Chicago suburbs, Brigette came to Iowa City to attend the journalism school at the University of Iowa, fell in love with the area, and decided she couldn’t leave. After meeting Brian while working at the same Iowa City restaurant in college, they got married in August 2015 in the heart of downtown. She works full time in project management and as an employee of the Core Fitness Kids Club while finishing her MBA at Upper Iowa University. In her free time, she drags Kate out garage sale-ing, tries to keep up with her reading list and runs, lives for Hawkeye football season, enjoys a good meal on a patio, runs her Bachelor/Bachelorette bracket with her family and friends, and of course, chases her daughter around the pool and the park.

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