If we could turn the clock back to pre-coronavirus days, would there be a single American who would object? I don’t think so. In only a few months we witnessed changes to the very fabric of our society—where and how we work, what we do for entertainment, how we educate our children.
One of the most difficult parts of the pandemic was the requirement to spend so much time at home–to physically distance ourselves from extended family, friends, and colleagues. Even if we’re living in a state that had few restrictions, odds are good that in the past months we had more than enough of “Home, Sweet Home.” We have probably felt some of the aftermath of sheltering at home.
In the relatively short time since the outbreak of the pandemic, researchers have compiled an impressive amount of data which suggests that sheltering at home presents a sizable set of difficulties. Some people go so far as to suggest that the “cure” of sheltering at home may have produced more severe consequences than the danger of contracting COVID-19 presented to most people.
By forcing families to stay together physically, the pandemic increased the number and intensity of problems faced by individuals in estranged or dysfunctional families. Young adults who left home to shed family difficulties were often forced back home when they lost their jobs or were unable to stay in college. Many soon realized that their family issues remained. This time, however, the mandates to shelter at home made life even more difficult and caused increased anxiety. In some cases, the young adults felt scared or threatened.
Shelter-at-home orders also made life more difficult and dangerous for children and adults in abusive homes. The abuser was home all the time, and the victim of the abuse found it difficult to get away or to find the opportunity to call for help. For these folks, having to stay at home was a curse far worse than the dangers presented by a tiny virus.
It doesn’t take very long for most people—even self-proclaimed introverts—to crave human interaction. We’re social beings, and we like to be with other people. Sheltering at home brought with it some psychological fall-out because it disrupted human interaction and caused isolation. According to research group KFF, “A broad body of research links social isolation and loneliness to poor mental health, and data from late March shows that significantly higher shares of people who were sheltering in place (47%) reported negative mental health effects resulting from worry or stress related to coronavirus than among those not sheltering-in-place (37%).”
The problem escalated for people who live alone. Under stay-at-home edicts, visits from others virtually ceased, and the ability to arrange meetings with others did, too. People’s homes began to feel more like prisons than havens from disease.
It took some people only a few days of sheltering at home to realize that their home wasn’t the perfect shelter.
A big house is great—if you have a large family or need lots of space for work, hobbies or guests. However, some people living in a big house with substantial property, decided very quickly that—without visitors—their house felt like a cavern that echoed with each move they made. They quickly realized that “roomy” changed to “too big” overnight when they spent virtually all their time at home—often by themselves.
Conversely, homeowners living in a smallish home suddenly found themselves living in what felt like a truly-tiny home. Their cozy kitchen made them claustrophobic, and there was no such thing as a quiet place to hide away and think.
Stay-at-home edicts forced some people to really “see” the condition of their home for the first time in a long time. It was one thing for them to come home tired at the end of a work day and notice stuff piled into corners or shoved under beds. They could ignore the hoarded condition of the back bedroom because they never really needed to use that room.
However, when everyone came home and needed a place to work or study, they needed that hoarding debris cleaned up. Once they had really seen the clutter, they just couldn’t “unsee” it. When they walked into a room, the clutter drew their attention like a magnet attracts paper clips. When they tripped over the raised flooring in the dining room, they knew it was time to repair that flooring and do 2 dozen other fixes.
The limitations of a prolonged period of isolating at home convinced some people that big city life lived in congested subdivisions was no longer attractive. They were ready to move away—really far away—from the hubs of coronavirus infections. Places like Wyoming and South Dakota were particularly attractive, not only because of their small populations, but also because there were fewer restrictions.
Initially, they couldn’t do a whole lot because of travel bans. However, when restrictions lifted, millennials and baby boomers shared a common goal—to move where there were a lot fewer people from whom to be socially distant. Although the experts disagree over the size and duration of the population shift caused by the pandemic, they agree that a shift is occurring.
As a homeowner, have you experienced any of these difficulties associated with sheltering at home? Are you convinced that now—right now—would be an excellent time repair, de-clutter or sell your home? What should you do?
At LifeCycle Transitions we use innovative means to care for people facing upheaval in their daily lives. We will come to your home and discuss with you options that will help you transition from where you are now to where you would like to be. Please contact us at (877) 273-7810 or at lifecycletransitions.com.