Our New “Normal”

Just like all of you, my little corner of the world has shaken as I’ve watched countless news reports about the current, scary situation that is happening all across the globe. It feels as though our lives have been turned upside down.

Trying to navigate our new “normal” has been challenging and confusing for everyone in my family. My husband and I now work across from each other at our kitchen table while we alternate who entertains our 5 and 3-year-olds while the other one of us hops on a video call. While to us, our world has been shaken, we are the fortunate ones; we’re all together.

The True Heroes

The true heroes, the ones I think about hourly, the ones that my heart breaks for when they have to leave their family, the ones who put their own safety and health on the line daily, are experiencing more of an upheaval than I’ll ever know. Nurses, doctors, first responders, grocery store employees, delivery drivers, child care workers, and so many more get up each day and go out into the world as they continue to do their jobs – protecting and serving the rest of us during this time. 

While I originally had a different direction for this post, it felt strange not acknowledging our current situation. However, I do still believe (maybe now, more than ever) that we need to continue to find joy in small moments.  It’s hard to stay positive these days and it’s almost too easy to let anxiety and worry overtake your whole being. I open up social media or turn on the news, and I’m instantly inundated with worst-case scenarios that have now become a reality for some people. 

Finding Joy in Small Moments

Still, I continue to work hard to find joy in small moments. I find joy because I have two young children watching my every movement and reaction. I find joy because I still continue to support teachers while they teach our students remotely. I find joy because I need to feel a sense of normalcy. I find joy in connecting virtually more often with my parents even though it’s because I’m worried. I find joy in thinking about my students even though it’s because I’m wondering if they’re safe. I find joy because above all, things get too scary if I don’t. 

I’m not talking about creating huge, new, extravagant memories for me and my family. I’m talking about stopping every once in a while and appreciating those little things that brought a smile to my face. Here are just a few of the small things that have brought me joy recently:

  • My son “helping” me make dinner
  • My first Zoom call with all of my amazing co-workers and seeing their faces
  • My district is providing free lunches to any child that needs it, no questions asked
  • My daughter’s smile when she received a video of her teacher reading a story aloud
  • Drawing chalk pictures with my kids on the neighbors’ driveways
  • Seeing a stranger pay for a nurse’s groceries at the store
  • Being in a group chat with neighbors as we check in with each other

I hope that no matter where you are or what you’re going through, you take the time to stop and find the joy in the small, everyday moments. Write them down, say it out loud, take a picture –  just stop and smile at the little things throughout the day; it makes a difference. And if you, or your partner/spouse, are a nurse, doctor, first responder, grocery store employee, delivery driver, child care worker, or any other professional that is out there working to help bring a sense of normalcy to our world, there aren’t enough thank yous in the world. 

About the Author: Liz Janusz is an Instructional Coach with an emphasis in ELA. She currently is working at River Valley School in Lemont, IL with supporting 3rd-5th grade students and teachers. She has previously worked as a reading specialist and as a classroom teacher before transitioning into her coaching role. Liz has received her Master’s degree in Reading from Roosevelt University. She has a huge passion for ensuring that ALL students should have access to a diverse selection of books. You can follow Liz on Twitter at @mrs_janusz as she shares book reviews, and other tips and ideas, for all different ages of students.

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Liz Janusz

Liz Janusz

ELA Instructional Coach

Note: Fresh Ideas for Teaching blog contributors have been compensated for sharing personal teaching experiences on our blog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.