7 Longer-Term Positives from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Photo by Torsten Dettlaff on Pexels.com

We’re living through unprecedented times, and the loss and harm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is irreversible. However, there are some meaningful positives that will come out of all of this if and when the world returns to normal again.

  1. Re-discovering the magic of 24 hours in a day!
    In our fast-paced lives, and the constant struggle to balance work and life, most of us never had enough time. That’s not really the case anymore. The fact that most of us have been confined largely to our homes for most of the year has meant that we have more time at our hands and less things to do. While we’re still doing as much or more with our days, working from home, managing household chores, and many other things, the flexibility at hand has meant most of us are able to do a lot more in a day than we did in a pre-COVID day.
  2. A New Hobby or a Rekindled Affair with an Old One!
    Weekends and vacations have been really hard to fill with quality enjoyment and relaxation, with “going out” not really an option anymore. For most of us this has meant actively finding hobbies or things to do. For some it has meant rekindling an old hobby – writing in my case, for others a chance to pick up that thing you’ve always wanted to do – my wife who’s picked up baking, and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my share of cookies, cakes and breads! We’ve all had a chance to add that added dimension to our lives as a result of this.
  3. Realizing The Value of Relationships & Human Interaction
    While separating everyone physically and limiting most chances of social interaction, the pandemic has brought people closer together in many ways. Some of us are forced to spend more time with our immediate family (some like me have become better parents as a result) as we all remain home-bound together while others have had the chance to connect with old friends over endless Whatsapp and Zoom videocalls. I personally have made an effort to reconnect with old friends more in these past few months, than I did in the last 10 years! The forced physical distancing, has also made us long for that physical interaction so much more – the matches you find on Tinder, Bumble or Hinge don’t seem as interesting anymore when there is absolute no way to follow those up with a real physical date.
  4. A Real Shift towards Flexible Work Arrangements
    While many firms advocated and provided flexible work arrangements for their employees prior to the coronacrisis, the reality was that true flexible work arrangements were more an exception than the rule. However, most firms have now realized that work-from-home may not be just as efficient as working from an office, but might even show increased efficiencies in many cases, thanks to the feeling of freedom and flexibility that it provides. When all this also comes with significant cost-savings in terms of office rentals and related costs, daily commute, and other benefits, flexible work arrangements will probably be a norm going forward.
  5. Your Next Vacation will be Your BEST Yet
    The fact that most of us haven’t had a chance to get too far away from our homes in all these months, let alone crossing any borders, will mean that whenever you go on your next vacation, you’ll truly know to appreciate it. For many of us, getting on a flight, going to a different city or country, or anything related to travel, was such a regular occurrence that it had lost any and all excitement. That will surely change the next time you get a chance to really explore the world – and it will likely feel like your best holiday yet.
  6. The Exponential Acceleration of Technology Adoption
    Necessity is the mother of all invention. And we’ve seen this more than ever in the past 6-8 months than ever before. While the technology largely existed somewhere, the adoption of technologies of the “stay at home” economy has tremendously accelerated thanks to a lack of options. Online entertainment (Netflix), Remote working and interaction (Zoom), Food delivery (Foodpanda / Meituan / Swiggy), Online shopping (Amazon), Social networking (Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok) have all seen a huge surge in terms of adoption as well as metrics such as time and money spent over this period. While some of this may normalize, as we get back to a world of physical interactions, the convenience and ease of use will mean longer-term consumer behavior shifts.
  7. Climate and Environmental Detox
    The positive impact of nationwide lockdowns and the resultant reduction in traffic, industrial emissions, pollution and broader carbon emissions has been talked about widely. While this may be too short a pause for it to have massive and long-lasting impact, it will surely act as a detox for the climate and environment to regain some balance. Moreover, some behavioral shifts that are predicted as a result of the pandemic i.e. less global travel, increased focus on hygiene, more efficient resource allocation, are bound to create a more environment-friendly world post-COVID.

7 Parenting Lessons from the Pandemic

Over the past 6 months or so, while most people have had to deal with a tremendous amount of personal and professional stress in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents of infants, toddlers and school-going kids alike have probably had the worst of it.

However, as a father of an 18-month old son, I think I couldn’t have asked for anything more than the unique opportunity this has turned out to be purely from a fatherhood perspective. For all those struggling with balancing their professional duties along with being a good parent / partner, I’ve summarized a positive take on all the things that are the constant struggle and challenges.

  1. Dump the pursuit of perfection – The simple fact that you are juggling between multiple responsibilities, only two of which are being a parent and a working professional (in addition to being a partner, doing household chores, self-care, etc.), means that you will not always be perfect at all things. It is not only OK but imperative to be a jack of all trades and not really a master of any, because that luxury isn’t afforded to most people at such times.
  2. Manage & Own your Schedule – While it’s hard to be too prescriptive on your daily schedule, spend 10 mins in the morning to broadly allocate time to the various tasks that lay ahead – including your work, time for kids, chores at home, time for yourself (me-time is still important), and any other things of importance to you. Most importantly – STICK TO IT.
  3. Quality over Quantity – The one thing I can vouch for is that quality time spent with your kids is probably more important than the quantity – both for you and your little one. While I miss all the time with my son all week, I also don’t ever have the energy to handle him alone all Sunday even if I wanted to. Find a few things you make your own – bedtime stories or routine, enjoying the meals together, homework (if your kids are old enough), screen time (my knowledge of rhymes today is incredible), or whatever suits you!
  4. Don’t judge yourself – None of us have been used to “working from home” and handling kids at the same time for such an extended period of time. So making mistakes is natural – and you will have the occasional parenting “mistake” or “oversight” – letting them watch too much TV, not checking in on that homework assignment, forgot to remind that Zoom class, let them have too much chocolate / ice cream, left an infant unattended to check on the smell of burning food, left the soiled diaper on for too long. But it is OK. Don’t be harsh on yourself and start doubting your parenting abilities.
  5. Sharing is Caring – And this is all the more true when it comes to child rearing. We often are brought up to believe that moms have more of a duty towards their kids when it comes to their daily routines, but that should never be the case. You’re both in this together – so find a balance and agree on sharing the responsibilities of your child(ren) as that will not just lighten the stress from each of your minds but will also bring you closer together as a couple.
  6. Your Way is the Right Way – The age of internet and social media often leads to information overload. And as parents, we’re constantly striving to be the best versions of ourselves, and come across advice (wanted and unwanted) from a whole host of sources – parents, immediate and extended family, other parents, books, journals, parenting articles, endless youtube videos on the endless Do’s and Dont’s of being a good parent. While it is good to be informed, as long as you keep the emotional and physical well-being of your child the top priority, trust me that your parenting style is the best parenting style for your kid.
  7. You are your kids’ BEST MOM / DAD – Call it a blessing or a curse, we don’t choose our parents. So unless you’re doing something awfully wrong, chances are your kid will love you and think of you as the BEST parent in the world. More than anything, they love the fact that you’re able to spend more time than ever with them, and so while it lasts, enjoy this special time and don’t sweat the small things!