I’m usually pretty calm during a crisis—I’m a New Yorker, after all. I’ve endured everything from the horrors of Sept. 11 to the blackouts of Superstorm Sandy and beyond. But the coronavirus feels even scarier, perhaps because it will last so much longer—and that definitely has me on edge.
Yet as I was folding an enormous basket of laundry the other morning (the piles have exploded since my college-aged girls returned home), I decided to light a pine-scented candle, still on display in my living room since Christmas. And as I breathed in its calming scent, I instantly felt my shoulders relax.
Yup, one of the unexpected upsides of having to shelter in place is my rediscovery of the joys within my own home—a sentiment that many of my friends and family say they’ve felt, too.
So, in case you need something positive to focus on as you’re holed up at home, here are a few things about home that are making me and my fellow neighbors smile during this bleak hour.
1. Discovering food I totally forgot I had
Since we can no longer pop out to local restaurants and even grocery runs are discouraged, I decided to do a full excavation of my pantry—and was pleasantly surprised by what I found in its depths.
I could probably live for weeks using the forgotten foods in my pantry and deep freezer. I unearthed seven kinds of rice, pork and cabbage dumplings, boxes of bread crumbs, and a few cans of tuna.
Larry Perlstein of Westport, CT, reports discovering parts of his pantry that he hasn’t seen since he moved in to his house 12 years ago. The items included a box of raisins dating to 2015, which he wisely decided not to eat.
“But I also found lots of sprinkles, both rainbow and chocolate, and I’ve read they last forever,” he says. Baking projects are now on deck with his 12-year-old.
Christina Vercelletto of Babylon, NY, has reaped the same sweet rewards at her house.
“I’m baking with my daughter using every neglected box mix we have, plus a bag of coconut and white chocolate chips that we bought in the fall but never used,” she shares.
2. Having time to organize and declutter my house
New York City resident Anne Levy did a colossal cleaning and reorg of her house in order to prepare both of her daughters to learn remotely, and so her school teacher husband could teach from home.
“The place feels lighter—and I feel mentally lighter, too,” she says. Levy gathered nine bags of clothing and textile donations and plans to keep on purging.
Meanwhile, I’ve finally whittled down my linen drawer. My amazing mother-in-law, you see, gives me every tablecloth she’s tired of—and she runs through several a year, which means the two dresser drawers where I store these linens is full to bursting. During this virus crisis, I’ve finally had a chance to tackle this spot and embrace only the tablecloths I truly love—and toss that yellow-and-green tropical number in the middle!
3. Taking long, luxurious baths
I used to complain about this tub (too big, takes too long to fill, a pain to clean), but I no longer sing that tune. Instead, I’m digging around for bath salts, oils, and other potions to pour in so I can soak my stress away. I’m using it as long as the coronavirus lasts—and maybe longer.
4. Having date nights—in the basement
Stressful days like these were made for streaming mindless movies and TV shows, which I’m suddenly finding pretty enjoyable in my little basement. It’s dark and cold, but we have excellent Wi-Fi and comfy chairs, so I’m ready to embrace regular date nights here with my hubs.
5. Checking off home to-do lists
Working from home has given me pockets of down time, and as a result, my perpetual list of household chores is just about whittled to zero. Burned-out lightbulbs? Replaced! No-slip mats finally laid under dangerous throw rugs? Done. Next up, I’m steeling myself to enter the basement “scary closet” (so named because of the occasional mouse that pops up) to sort through my garden pots that I hope to plant once this crisis is over.
Granted, I will be thrilled once this coronavirus scourge has finally lifted—but until then, I will try to look at the silver lining and relish all the comforts and opportunities that staying at home has to offer.
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