Updated: Apr 17, 2020
The days blend together. I feel like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. I'm working at my makeshift office at the end of the kitchen table. My wife is practicing sight words with our kindergartner that will finish her school year at home. Our eight month old baby boy is screaming in his high chair. He doesn't like when Mama is distracted. Bloomberg TV hums in the background, another huge down day with a blinding sea of red numbers. I'm about to start my third consecutive Zoom meeting. I ushered the kids upstairs with instructions to be quiet because Daddy was about to hop on a work call.
Shortly after my call began, I hear the high pitched voice of my six year old daughter.
“Alexa, play I love candy!”
The three year old chimes in next.
“Alexa, make fart noises!”
I couldn’t help but chuckle.
This is our new normal. That's not a bad thing, just different.
There are many people suffering right now. Those fighting for their lives against an ugly virus. Families & communities losing loved ones. People that are out of work and struggling to make ends meet. The incredible sacrifice of first responders and medical professionals on the front lines. Those are real heroes. But I can't help but wonder, is there a silver lining to all of this? Will this pause in our daily routines change the way we live on the other side? Here's what I've been thinking about...
New Appreciation for Running a Household After witnessing the birth of our first child, I knew my wife was tougher than me (after the third, there leaves no doubt). But the day in, day out rat race of getting the kids fed, dressed, doing their homework, cleaning their room, putting the baby to sleep, preparing meals, without losing her cool or patience is a different beast. That last part is critical. I'm fairly certain I could run the household, but I would be ranting like a lunatic. My Wife has a New Appreciation for my Work My wife had an up close look at what I do on a daily basis. Actually, my daily responsibilities were in overdrive. During the most stressful days, I felt she was in the ring with me. I could vent and bounce ideas off of her. She's even started to pay attention to overnight stock futures. She has a real-time view of what goes into making portfolio changes, client communications, and operational decisions during a stressful time. It's a good reminder that we are a team. We are both tired at the end of the day for very different reasons, but each role is important in keeping the household running.
Quality Time with the Kiddos My kids are young. They don't have a clue what's going on. This provides a sense of normalcy, no matter how chaotic things get. I can watch them play sharks and minnows in the yard without a care in the world. Their pure joy provides perspective. As the weather improves, we've started going on a post market close hike. We count animals. Find walking sticks. Use our imagination to describe trees and clouds. It's a perfect time to forget about everything and be present.
Slower Pace of Life
Under normal circumstance, I would race home after work to help get the kids off to the next after school activity. Basketball practice, dance, play dates, are all on pause. The weekends were full of birthdays and kiddie parties. I don't miss rushing to Target to buy some trinket that will be destroyed or forgotten within a month. Now, we have time to eat together. The kids use their imaginations to play and entertain themselves. They spend more time outside. We go on family walks. I've introduced them to Legos. There's less screen time and more meaningful conversations. During my childhood, this was the way we lived, but it's a forgotten time as so many other things compete for our attention. It's been refreshing and nostalgic to slow down the pace of life.
How Quickly Things Change
It's remarkable how one minute, a business owner can have the world in their palm. The next minute, the global economy is shut down and business grinds to a halt. No one is bulletproof. No asset class is immune from pain. You can have a thriving business one day and be on the verge of bankruptcy the next. We can't let fear drive our decisions, but a reevaluation of risk and fiscal responsibility is necessary to put us on better footing to absorb the next shock. Someone once said, you win by staying in the game. Meaningful Conversation It shouldn't take a global pandemic to check-in with friends and family. I'm as guilty as the next person of letting life get in the way of meaningful connection. I've had more in-depth conversations in the last month than the entirety of the past year. We all have our own struggles... it's important to share, listen, and be there for each other.
Perspective and reflection can go a long way to make a difficult situation easier. My grandfather fought in WW2. The generation after fought in Vietnam. I'm being asked to stay in my house for a month or two. This has been hard, no doubt. I'm looking forward to getting back our social lives. I'm a firm believer that balance is the key to living a fulfilling life. This pause has me rethinking what's really important. Were we doing it right before all this happened? I'm not so sure. A slower pace, meaningful human connections, and taking time to enjoy the little things sounds pretty good.
What's your silver lining?