• kimfairfieldmba

Socially Distant or Socially Aware?

In this pandemic time, the catch phrase seems to be “social distancing”. It’s a key tool in combatting the spread of coronavirus, and it’s important. But what’s the cost?

I’m currently sitting poolside at a generous neighbor’s house where my daughter is having her 8th birthday “party”. Basically, it’s her and a friend swimming for 3 hours while air hugging and reminding each other to stay 6 feet away, followed by cupcakes on our back porch. When people ask the question about what the “new normal” will be, I wonder if our kids will ever remember the pre-COVID days or if they’ll mostly just think that large parties are dangerous.

As important as It is to preserve our physical health and protect the vulnerable members of our population (and I do believe that’s Priority 1 right now!), there is a mental and emotional toll to social distancing and quarantine. I see it everyday in the added tension in family dynamics; in my child’s increased withdrawal from socializing with her friends virtually; in the increased pressure from new workplace regulations; with added stress when running errands; and especially with lack of personal time from caregiving full time while wondering how to return to work when camps and summer care have dried up and fall school plans are up in the air and we live with a high risk individual.

To be fair, as a society we have been growing more socially distant before social distancing was popular. Tools like this iPad I’m using now have made personal interactions more electronic and less...well, personal. But that’s not what I wanted my kid to grow up thinking was “normal”. The problem is that it IS normal now and for the foreseeable future. So what do we do?

Let’s see if we can use social distancing to turn socially distant into socially aware! Give yourself some grace. Cut your neighbor some slack. Be understanding of your kids’ concerns and needs. Help each other and just overall try to be kind, to yourself and others. No one really knows what they’re doing right now, or what the future will look like, even in normal times. That’s ok.

If you don’t understand someone else’s point of view, do some research and have the hard conversations to gain a broader perspective. Then teach this to your kids And your employees. We may have to social distance, but we can still grow and become stronger, more empathetic people. We can also take these skills into the workplace to better understand our coworkers and clients!

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