August 1, 2020
With uncertainty abound, it can be hard to make plans, to prepare for what’s next, to feel confident about a route through the next month, week, or even day. There are a lot of things outside of our collective control right now. Learning to live in this space of uncertainty is a continual challenge. Thankfully we get to do this challenge together as a community and take inspiration from how others navigate difficult times. Here’s one idea to bring a little joy & a touch of nostalgia to a chaotic routine: a Mini Photo Print to go with lunch.
When my two small children attended preschool on Tuesday, March 17, I had no idea it would be their last day of school for months. With very little that felt under my control, I decided I’d continue to pack their lunches the night before as I had been, as if everything was normal, as if our routine had not been profoundly disrupted. It seemed a little silly some days to have their lunches all packed up, but it helped to have that routine in place even on the days when I’d carry them mere feet from the fridge to the kitchen counter. The photo I packed that used to connect home and school became a way for us to talk through favorite memories together over a shared weekday lunch. Where I used to jot a note about the memory, I skipped that step knowing I’d be there to chat about it come lunch. Not what we expected, but we made the best of it and found joy in the new routine.
And most days having the meals all packed up and ready to travel motivated me to get the kids outside for a picnic to the woods or shoreline by our house, or even just to the backyard. The fresh air was always worth the effort and it’s amazing how kids complain less about what they’re eating when they’re distracted by rocks and sticks and sunshine and dirt (or snow). This time outside served as a reset that we all needed on those early days of the new normal.
The act of packing lunches was helpful in its own way too. I was often tired, up later than I wanted to be, and stressed about all the things. It was important to take stock of all of the things I could control, and all of the things I had to be grateful for. Deep breaths, my partner and I both still had our jobs that were contributing to this chaotic schedule. Deep breaths, I had food in the fridge and the ability to pick out healthy options for my kids to choose from. Deep breaths, our whole family was still healthy enough for deep breaths.
Our schedule has had lots of stops and starts since then, different phases of how we navigate work and child care, keeping grandparents and teachers safe while keeping our kids socialized and thriving (pandemic thriving, anyway). This will be an ongoing process that will have highs and lows. I know that some days the kids will be out in the world and some days they’ll be home with me. I may not be able to control whether the kids are in school or not, but I’ll continue to pack the healthy lunches with the nostalgic photos. The simple routine grounds us all in the memories we have from our past and the new ones we’re making in the present. As for the future? One day at a time.
Check out Feeding America for ways to combat hunger, or contact your local food shelf to learn ways you can be a part of the hunger solution in your community.
How are you using photos in 2020? Share with us on Instagram by tagging @socialps.