I wanted to share a few things that I learned from living in Haiti that I think apply to what many are going through right now. I have no idea if any of this is helpful, but as I scrolled mindlessly through Facebook, I realized that this is all new for so many of you. Remember, this too shall pass. This is just a season. You will look back on this time with very different feelings than what you are feeling in the moment. (I am not trying to make light of this situation. I know that there are people have lost and who will lose their lives, and by no means am I trying to say this is not a serious virus.)
*In NO particular order... 1. Life can get pretty lonely. Technology is a blessing. With family and friends in another country, and any friends who lived in Haiti being 30-60 minutes away, we spent a lot of time on our own. We realized how thankful we were for internet. Our first three years, internet was VERY spotty. But, once we had the ability to do VIDEO calls with our family AND stream Netflix, our world changed! No, we can't go visit our families right now (and if you are...please don't), but we can still talk with them! Try using the video chat on Facebook messenger! You can call multiple people at once and see everyone at the same time. I LOVE that our family will still video chat multiple times a week. You don't need to set a time, just push that little video button and whoever is available will answer. I'm guessing there are a lot of people out there right now who wouldn't mind having a video chat with you. Take this time to check in and catch up with some friends!
2. Keep a Journal. Some of the experiences and feelings you're having are brand new. I encourage you to take time each day and write down whatever is in your head. Write your fears, write the happy things that happened today. Write down things that you need to do that are nagging at you because you can't do them right now. I found that when I would write down the things that were in my head, it would help decrease the anxiety and stress that I was feeling. I enjoyed writing down a list of things that I wanted to accomplish that day. It helped me be productive during a time when people weren't really checking in and it didn't really matter what my day looked like.
3. Sickness is scary. Over the years, we faced many sicknesses. Some we didn't have a name for, others we did. Each one of us experienced dengue fever, zika, a crazy country-wide case of pink eye and the one we all hated: Chikungunya. We all still have joint pain and physical scars from that one! There were times when the kids would have fevers for days. Morgan was on IV antibiotics being treated for an unknown illness. We were scared. But I say all that to say: we made it to the other side. We followed our doctor's orders and our bodies healed.
4. Unplug. Disconnect. Waiting for something scary to happen increases our anxiety. I found myself glued to my phone whenever we were facing a crisis of some sort. Whether a category 4 hurricane was heading our way, or people were putting up barricades on the road and shooting at cars that tried to pass, I was constantly checking the latest news. When something inevitable is going to happen, sometimes the waiting and anticipation is the worst part. Try to unplug from the overwhelming amounts of information being thrown at you. It's amazing how much I was able to relax if I wasn't constantly focused on the "impending doom."
5. Get dressed. There were many days and weeks that we were quarantined to our house while we were in Haiti. To be honest, there were other days when we self quarantined to decrease the chance of dealing with people. lol But, after a few days of staying in your pj's, it's amazing how getting dressed and ready for the day can improve your mood. You don't have to "go" anywhere. Just take a shower, get dressed and maybe even put some make-up on ;) You'll feel better.
6. Be creative. This is a great time to let your kids' imaginations run wild. It's in there! Make costumes and forts with boxes, make a home video, learn a dance, cook something new, learn to draw. The possibilities are endless!
7. Don't stress about school work. Even if your school is asking you to continue education, PLEASE don't stress about it. Your child will be just fine. Whatever you are able to do is enough. They will not fall behind. I was nervous coming into public schools with our kids after being out for six years. One year while in Haiti, our circumstances helped us to make the decision to put a hold on school. We never did pick it back up that year. The kids schooled through February and started again in the fall. Guess what? They're both in the top of their classes and they are doing GREAT. Kids are resilient. They'll be okay.
8. Dinner doesn't have to be amazing. Oh the guilt. I'm home all day, I should be able to put a nice dinner on the table for my family. If this is something you enjoy doing, go for it! If not, don't stress about it. (I'm still talking to myself on this one!) One thing that I have found helpful (after grocery shopping only every 4-6 weeks in Haiti) is to meal plan. I don't have to stick to the schedule that I create, but it gives me options to choose from. For me, one of the hardest things is just deciding what to make. I realized that it's okay to repeat meals every couple weeks. We chose Tuesday for some sort of Mexican dinner. Wednesdays were pasta. Fridays were always pizza nights. But - it's okay to have cereal or Ramen too ;)
9. Take a walk or a drive. With very limited entertainment options in Haiti, almost every weekend, our family would jump on the moto and go explore. We have some great memories from our little drives. Jump in the car. Leave the electronics behind. Drive to somewhere new and just enjoy looking out your window. Look for deer and other wild animals. See how many lakes you can find. Squish your brother or sister as you go around a curve like we did when we were little. Pack some snack and sing songs.
10. Play some music. Maybe it's just me, but music can change the mood of a house. Feeling sad and scared? Play some worship music. Feeling lazy and tired? Pump some jams and have a dance party. Let your kids (and teens) see you be silly. Music is a free gift to us! Use it!
I got an email from a friend from college this week. At the end of the email, she said something that has stuck with me during these days:
"But it is a difficult line to walk...wise and careful, but not worrisome and fearful."
Let's be wise and careful. Not worrisome and fearful.
Hang in there friends!! You've got this!