Better home life on lockdown

We ordered barbecue last night for the family, carryout. Margaret and I were both knackered after hard-charging days at work and we pressed the Easy button on dinner.

Before the pandemic Margaret and I used to have dinner out twice a week — sometimes three, once in a while four times. We didn’t really want it to be that way. But Margaret often worked late, and I had a 30-minute commute. We often came home too tired to face the kitchen.

We’ve welcomed making more dinners at home. Margaret, I, and our daughter all have dietary restrictions and cooking at home lets us confidently avoid the troublesome foods on all of our lists. We eat more healthfully — a greater variety of foods, more vegetables, fewer calories.

Because I’m working at home, I can sometimes even start dinner between meetings and have it ready when Margaret gets home. That plus losing my evening commute has made our evenings feel a lot longer — there’s more downtime in them.

Losing the morning commute has given me more time to write in the morning. (You might think I’d sleep later instead, and I did that for the first week or so. But I learned quickly that it’s best for me to keep as many of my old routines as possible. Back to my normal waking time I went.)

I also see a lot more of the three children who live with us. They’re all young adults figuring out how to step into independent lives. The pandemic paused their employment. One went back to work two weeks ago and one returns to work this weekend.

Flag over Chick-fil-A

The third, our daughter, hasn’t been called back yet and she’s still hanging out here most of the time. But her night-owl ways and my 8-to-5 work schedule meant that until the stay-at-home order we seldom saw each other. It’s been lovely to talk to her more. She usually comes downstairs about the time I’m breaking for lunch. Sometimes I run over to Chick-fil-A and get us both some nuggets and fries. It’s a nice moment of connection.

I’m also able to keep the house up better. I can give a toilet a quick swab or a countertop a quick wipe whenever I notice they need it. I’ve even run the vacuum a time or two between meetings, and have run a few loads of laundry. Despite these distractions I’m getting as much done as I ever did at work. In the office, I spent time chatting briefly with people I encountered in the hallway or at the coffee pot. That’s all gone while working from home.

Also gone are the morning coffees I used to have with past colleagues. I’ve met with a few of them over Zoom, which tides us over. I also miss the good energy of my workplace, the serendipitous conversations I had with VPs at the coffee pot, and going out for lunch with the engineers. I miss Downtown Indianapolis, where our offices are located. I miss singing in the car to my music on my commute — singing is cathartic for me. I miss occasionally meeting my brother for a whiskey after work.

Like you, I suffered some loss when the pandemic changed our lives. But when things start to edge back toward the post-pandemic normal and I’m working in the office again, I’ll suffer another loss. I will miss this better home life.