After Sheltering-at-Home, What's Next?

In Texas, our Governor has directed that non-essential services can open. Finally.   

You probably heard – okay, everyone had heard – of the gal who re-opened her salon and ended up in jail because she defied the order to stay closed.   

At the dismay of many, I am one who believes we need to start living again too. 

Albeit, more responsibly.   

We are adults. Allow us to do what we need to do – for our families and us. Extending restrictions won’t be helpful for the many who need to keep their jobs. It also won’t protect the irresponsible and the reckless; they will be rebellious regardless of the “rules.”   

We are responsible adults. We can continue precautions at our discretion, deciding what is best and what will protect ourselves and our families.  

As we move forward in what many see as a new normal, there have been many lessons from this two-month period that will benefit us.  

But we must learn from them.  

Businesses need to continue precautions for cleanliness and safety for their staff and customers. However, they should be doing that all the time, especially during the annual flu season. For the future, maybe a reconsideration of sick time benefits is necessary so that employees who become ill have the choice to stay home and not be obligated to work, putting others at risk.   

Companies who have adjusted, allowing employees to work at home may recognize cost-savings for themselves – and their employees – if working at home part-time or flexing time continues. In Austin, I can bet many would be grateful if they could bypass the busy morning and evening commutes in the congested roadways. Cross-country travel may not be as necessary either.  

Schools have had to quickly adapt to online learning, streamlining lessons, and class time. How has this affected education, and how can they use technology to their benefit for the future? How have they bettered their service to low-income students who depend on free lunches and have no access to the internet?  

Colleges must realize the benefits of allowing more students to complete classes online. Those who cannot attend the university of their choice would be able to complete a degree program online instead of having to live on campus. Students who choose “distant degrees” could live at home and even work part-time while going to college, resulting in less student debt.  

Families have had two months of togetherness. Relationships have been tested, proved, and changed. Children have had the benefit of their parents staying home with them, teaching them, and doing activities with them. There have been many more homecooked meals around the dinner table with the whole family in attendance instead of everyone running to activities. Family members have had to work together to figure out childcare and help with teaching. Chores and home improvements have been caught up. New skills have been learned. Including dancing.  

(Dancing brings togetherness — if you don’t believe me,check out The Flemings on Facebook!)

True, it hasn’t been ideal for some families. First responders, hospital workers, and others have had to work long hours and live away from their families. Their unwavering strength and fortitude has been incredible and has taught us all the importance of moving through stress and pressure.  

We have also learned the vast importance of small businesses – what they provide and the loss it is to our communities if they cannot stay in business unless they have our support. 

Other lessons that many have learned because of the pandemic is the necessity of planning and preparedness. Every year during severe weather and hurricane seasons, much effort goes into reminding and educating the public about preparedness. The same goes for the unseen perils that may come – which could include another pandemic. We need to extend our responsibility toward saving money for an emergency fund, having extra nonperishable foods in the pantry, analgesics, sanitizing cleaners, and for Pete’s sake – enough toilet paper on hand.  

Everyone from all walks of life and professions can adapt and make changes for the future. I believe that for many of us, priorities have changed. We won’t deal anymore with the way things have been. We know our limits, but also that we can move past barriers and learn and achieve something we haven’t thought we could before. We have learned the value of ourselves. 

Yes, we are adults and can be responsible and maneuver our lives without extended restrictions. We’re resilient, adaptable, flexible, innovative – just let us run in this new normal. Look what we’ve done so far. We’ll make things happen.  

‘Cause this is ‘Merica, folks.

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