We are about to turn the calendar over to a brand new year, and the beginning of vaccine administration gives us hope that we may also be turning the chapter in the history book on the COVID pandemic. I am so ready to get back to “normal” life! Yet there are a few practices that have become mainstream during the pandemic that I hope we keep around.
Walmart was already offering this prior to the pandemic, and grocery and food delivery was starting to become mainstream in my area prior to our March lockdown, but today pretty much every business–from the big box store to the neighborhood book shop–is offering some way of getting your goods without going in. Since they’ve gone to the trouble to figure out the logistics, I hope they keep it up.
Shopping with little boys has never been easy for moms, but shopping with little boys in wheelchairs is even more exhausting. Finding a space with enough room to manueuver the wheelchair (don’t get me started on “handicapped” parking abuse), lifting him in and out of the car, keeping up as he joyfully and purposefully runs into displays and people with his chair while I attempt to grab pants in my size. Then God forbid I have to find a place to change him!
Shopping without having to get out of the car is just preferable. And it’s so difficult to find babysitters that I don’t want to waste my precious respite hours picking out a side of meat and ripe bananas.
Yes, there are times when I really do need to go into a store. (With my finicky feet, I am not ordering shoes online, but walking a mile every day during lockdown has worn my sneakers into shreds.) But most of the time, picking it up works just fine, and now I can still support my small local businesses this way.
Spacing in the Aisles
Speaking of shopping with a wheelchair…
Yes, most stores today make it easy to get in and out of a store on wheels, but pre-pandemic store layouts made it almost impossible to shop once you got inside. Aisles were so tight and packed that there was no way the chair was getting through there. Ironically, the children’s clothing stores were the absolute worst, which makes no sense considering many parents are using strollers. I don’t know if it’s due to slow downs in inventory or the desire to promote social distancing, but the few stores I’ve been in lately have much wider berths for shoppers to navigate. And the new one-way rules make collisions between patrons in ride-on carts and little boys in wheelchairs less likely.
If I or one of my kids has something medically wrong, I want to be seen by a doctor in person. But both my boys have specialists that require visits every three or six months in order to “stay on the books.” They are basically check-ins where prescriptions get renewed and any growth/changes are noted.
Since March we have been able to attend many of these appointments via our laptop. This reduces our exposure and keeps the waiting rooms free for patients with serious issues. It is also logistically sooooo much easier. I have been known to ask off work early, grab the kids the second their school bell rings, fight interstate traffic, get everyone out of the car into the doctor’s office, only to realize we are ten minutes late and must reschedule. And there are no times to reschedule for another six months, which means we are in danger of “falling off the books.” This has happened not once, but numerous times.
This year, I just come home, boot up my computer, and call whichever son requires the appointment over to the screen long enough for the doctor to see them and determine they are not in need of further service. Box checked.
Working From Home
No, it isn’t possible for everyone to do an effective job working from home. And most of us need regular interactions with our colleagues to keep us motivated. But there are days it would be nice to have the option to work from home. The kid has a low-grade fever, but there is no reason I can’t check on him on a regular basis and keep up with my work load via internet. Or a plumber is coming to fix my overflowing toilet but can’t give me a time so I might be stuck here all day.
I think employers are starting to learn that we don’t always need to take these days off. We can work effectively from home at least some of the time.
The same goes for these long meetings. Do we really need to have 200 people travel to a common venue to roll out the “theme” for this year? Can we just do it via email or a zoom chat?
And yes, conventions are a great way to revitalize and get new ideas for your industry. It helps to get away and meet in common with people from around the state or the country or the globe. But how much business travel is really necessary? Can we give people back their family time (and save tons in greenhouse gas emissions) by letting them attend many corporate and professional development opportunities remotely?
Again, there is nothing like attending the theater in person, or hearing your favorite artist play in front of a crowd of thousands. And, I’ll admit, online worship services don’t tend to do much for me. However, being able to live stream everything from concerts to church to guest lectures has given millions the opportunity to “attend” events they would never be able to attend pre-pandemic. Many churches had never invested in the tech to take their Sunday worship into the homes of their shut-ins. But they have now. Many artists who would’ve been touring around the country have been playing from their living rooms, allowing us an intimate look at their lives and the ability to “chat” with them and other fans via FaceBook. For some, due to physical issues, mental health issues or lack of funds, going to events in-person is rarely possible. For those folks, the world has opened up a little more.
Reconnecting with Friends
During the pandemic, I have Zoomed or Facetimed with friends from high school, college and other eras of my life. These are folks I might be “friends” with on Facebook, but with whom I hadn’t had a real conversation in decades. It was so much fun to see their faces and just jump back in and pick up where we had left off. I hope when we fully resume our busy lives, we still choose to make time for each other.
Being a parent of a child with special needs can be isolating at times, but ideas like these, can make it less so. So while I am ready to throw out much of the change that has come with pandemic life, I hope we will hold fast to some of it.