What will change for you after the pandemic?
I have been thinking about this question a lot lately. I know not everyone had the same experience that I have had. I know people who have lost their jobs, some who have lost their entire businesses, others who lost loved ones to the virus itself. This blog post is personal to my experience and I won’t pretend to know your struggles or if you are able to see any light in this darkness. I want to share my thoughts and reflections on what I am taking from the craziest and most surreal time.
In early March is when we really started to hear about this virus and we tuned into what was going on. We had a trip planned to take Mckenna to Disneyland in California in mid-April for her 2nd birthday. We were trying to sneak in one more free flight before she turned 2! I started to wonder if we should be going. We didn’t cancel but in the end we wouldn’t have to, as all trips were cancelled and Canadians were told to come home.
In mid-March both Mckenna and I became very sick resulting in a trip to the ER, but ultimately we were never tested for Covid. It was so early in this pandemic that truthfully our health care system was still trying to figure things out, they didn’t know when or who to test at that time. So in the end I’ll never know if we did or didn’t have it. Regardless we started off our isolation very ill. Thankfully Chauncey was there to take care of us both and he didn’t get sick.
In the beginning it almost didn’t seem real. Looking back now I can’t believe the things that were happening. The grocery stores had limited supplies, people were scrambling to figure out what the hell to do. Mckenna and I didn’t leave the house for weeks as Chauncey was the designated person going to the store for us all. We missed our family and our friends, we missed our routines, our Kindermusik and gymnastics classes with Mckenna. I just kept thinking, is this really happening?
Things are slowly returning to normal (somewhat anyways) and I’m hopeful that we will keep moving in that positive direction into the Fall. But I don’t want to forget this time. As difficult as some of the days were, I want to take the lessons we learned during this crazy ordeal. I’ve shared below some of the key changes we have made.
We had been working towards getting our finances in order starting at the end of last year. What I mean by that is we were curbing our spending and upping our savings. We started to really tune into our spending habits and our incomes. In my early 20’s I read a book (that I highly recommend) called Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach. I loved the author’s take on finances and I picked up his newest book The Latte Factor at the end of last year. It sparked a new appreciation for savings and getting our finances more on track. I plan to write an entire blog on this but for now, here are some steps we have taken starting at the end of last year and leading into 2020:
1) We took a very close look at our spending habits and set up a budget.
2) We met with our lawyer and drafted our Will. If you don’t have a Will, make the time to do this. It’s so important especially if you have children.
3) I upped my contribution to my pension, contributing closer to 10%.
4) We changed our RRSP contributes to be 30% higher risk and 70% mid/low risk.
5) We opened an RESP for Mckenna and contributed the maximum in order to have the government match. We set aside next year’s maximum as well.
6) At the start of the pandemic we liquidated some assets. Cash is king people!
7) Overall we are putting more money towards savings. If we learned anything from this situation, is that we never want to be living beyond our means or even close to that line. We are now living debt free, paying credit cards off every month and not carrying a balance. We have no loans (except our mortgage) and we plan to keep it that way.
This has been the most fundamental shift for us. We have always appreciated any extra time with each other and with our daughter. Although this was not how we planned for 2020 to go, we are forever grateful for this extra time with Mckenna. When it comes to time, we plan to make some changes. I recently read the book by Tiffany Shlain 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week. I started this practice just last week so I am very new to it. My sister Carrie had purchased the book for my other sister Kirsty. Kirsty has been living the 24/6 life for a while now and she is loving it. I was intrigued by this concept and decided to give it a try. No phone, no TV, no screens of any kind for a full 24 hours. What does this have to do with time? Well we are taking back our time as a family. We plan to do this for the foreseeable future.
The Pace of Life
The world basically stopped. We didn’t have a choice in the matter but if we take a step back we can see the lesson. Chauncey and I used to be very nonstop movers. This pandemic taught us to slow down. We still plan to travel and go on trips when the world opens up again. Travel for us is where we want to spend our time and our money. For you it might be a new car, new furniture or nice clothing. Everyone is different and that’s what makes the world unique. So I’m not saying we will stop travelling but I am saying we will be more mindful of our pace of life. We have really enjoyed our time at home. Chauncey has been working hard on our garden with Mckenna. I've discovered I can actually bake. I am currently reading Simplicity Parenting and it has similar messages to the 24/6 book I mentioned above. We are all moving at this frenzied pace. Rushing from one activity to the next. Our children do not need to have dance, riding lessons and hockey all on Monday night. We need to slow down. I will say that 2020 has taught our family that moving slowly is okay. We don’t need to pack our days full of activities. Sometimes sitting on the patio enjoying our coffee/tea and watching Mckenna play in her water table is pure bliss. It’s the simple things that are the best things.
We started to declutter at the beginning of this year prior to the pandemic. Slowly going room by room to remove unwanted items. We donated so many things and then the pandemic hit and donation centres closed. As we were stuck at home for months we continued to purge our house even more. We reorganized our basement and now have everything labelled in matching bins, things like Christmas décor and Mckenna’s clothing that she has outgrown but we hope to save if we have a second child. We went through all of Mckenna’s toys and put away some toys and purged anything she didn’t need anymore. We also went through our own closets and have large donation bags of clothing. We hope to be more mindful of anything we buy moving forward. Asking is this a want or a need? Do we really need this item in our home? When it comes to clothing, I want to move towards the idea of Project 333. I haven’t read it yet but the concept is that you wear 33 items in your wardrobe for 3 months and that includes accessories and shoes! I love the idea of a minimalist wardrobe and I’m doing some more research on it. I hope to buy pieces of clothing that are higher quality and stop buying throw away clothing. I want to invest in better pieces from Canadian clothing makers. Obviously this is an expensive process so I will slowly add staple pieces as I go.
I have taken so much more from this experience but I wanted to just share a few of the main things I plan to keep moving forward with, strong finances, quality time, a slower pace of life and less stuff.
I would love to hear what you have taken from this time? Good or bad. Comment below or reach out via email.