Madison, OH

Change is the Only Constant in Life

MegStewart

If you can prepare and roll with it, you can make it work for you.

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Photo credit: Sydney Rae on Unsplash

I can remember back when my oldest kids were in diapers and our local school would close for a snow day or two in bad weather.

I was a single mom who worked full-time outside the home then.

When the schools closed, it meant that I had to scramble to find childcare so I could still go to work.

If I was lucky, I found out the night before or at least suspected schools might close. I had more time to plan and sometimes I could drive the kids to my mom’s to spend the night.

But there were some mornings when schools didn’t announce the closure till 5 a.m. or even later the same morning.

Even when my older two kids were of the age to stay at home together, my work phone would ring almost nonstop from Noon to 5pm for me to referee fights between them.

My older two kids were graduated from school before they confessed the portable phones I kept having to replace weren’t actually defective.

Apparently the portable handsets were often used as sibling-targeted missiles while I was at work.

So for many years, the schools closing meant extra stress for me.

I was already at my limit most days just trying to make ends meet financially.

If I’m honest, there was more than one occasion when school closing unexpectedly or even the start of summer filled me with dread.

In fact, for most of my adult life, any unexpected change would throw me into an emotional tizzy.

If something broke down on the car it was a crisis for me.

My budget was beyond tight then and I knew it would impact my ability to get my youngest to daycare and then get to work.

Any missed time meant even less in my budget to work with the next week.

A plumbing problem in the house, a black out during a storm, or even a sick child needing a doctor visit, could upset my emotional state for days as I tried to figure out how to juggle it all.

I carried a lot of guilt and shame about having to ask family or friends for financial help on occasion.

Being a single mom is hard and it’s a delicate balancing act to keep all the balls up in the air by yourself without dropping them.

Any little change to the routine, can send one of those balls flying off into space.

Being prepared to roll with change brings peace of mind

Due to the Coronavirus, my state is currently on a mandatory shut down order for any non essential businesses.

Schools closed across the state for the first time in my life in April. Madison local schools opened in-person in August but went to all virtual learning in November.

My mom can’t remember Ohio ever closing schools in the entire state ever in her lifetime and she’s seventy-two years old.

The change happening right now across the country is unprecedented.

Yet I’m surprisingly calm.

I still work full-time, but I work from home as a freelance writer, tech consultant, and private coach.

Our local schools are virtual and many of us don’t think the kids will go back in-person this school year.

It’s actually been a blessing.

I did get upset initially over the shutdown out of fear that my oldest who works as a 911 dispatcher might get quarantined at work away from her three children.

I knew caring for them full time without a break would be stressful for my mother who lives with them. My grandchildren would miss their mom.

I couldn’t imagine how hard it would be for my daughter to be away from her children for an extended period of time, worrying about them the whole time.

To be proactive, I made a decision back in April and implemented it within a few hours.

My youngest girls and I packed up and went to stay with them so we would be there to help my mom care for them if that happened.

We could do that easily only because the schools had already closed. We're back at home now and at least for us life in this time of semi-quarantine has found a bit of routine.

How you handle change impacts those closest to you

My four kids have been amazingly calm about the quarantine too. My oldest son who lives over an hour away. He and his wife and their kids are doing well.

They closed on the sale on their first house mid-April.

He's been able to continue working as a local semi truck driver even though several drivers have tested positive and had to quarantine. He’s taking precautions as recommended.

My oldest daughter rented a house and moved over the summer with her three kids. Her job as a 911 dispatcher is pretty stable.

Mom ordered seeds in March and planted her garden and has canned and dehydrated a ton of food since then. She'll be picking the last of her kale, broccoli, and other greens this weekend.

So for the most part we are all staying home to stay healthy.

We can avoid the stores because of our early planning. Anything we do need can be ordered and picked up or delivered.

I get to play video games online with my one of my six-year-old grandsons and the three-year-old learned to play Uno and a new card game we brought with us called Exploding Kittens.

Trust me, it’s fun not gory.

As I scroll through Facebook and check in with friends and family virtually, it’s clear that our experience with this shut down is still very different from others.

At least for right now.

Why I think the change is different for me

Over the years, I’ve come to realize change is constant.

And many times, the fear of change and the emotional upset that follows is really me worrying about what “might” happen and not from what does happen.

If you can stop yourself from worrying about what might happen and simply deal with just what is happening, you’ll find change much easier to manage.

It also helps to prepare ahead for what you can.

Due to the events of 9/11 and the blackout of Northeast Ohio several years ago, I’m more prepared to roll with changes now.

In case of a power outage, I keep hand cranked flashlights, chemical light sticks, and an emergency radio at the ready.

I have jugs of water stored in the chest freezer which will keep frozen food colder longer if the power goes out temporarily.

I have several jugs of water stored in the back room to water pets and to use for cooking or even to manually flush the toilet if there’s a water issue due to frozen pipes or a pipe breaking.

Every time I go to the store or place an order, I buy canned chicken breast, a few cans of tuna, a case of ramen noodle soup, and other shelf stable items.

I have a first aid bag well-stocked with supplies. It's ready just in case which means we don’t have to worry about not having medicine to treat mild illness or injuries.

Because I’m more prepared, I have confidence in my own ability to handle whatever it is life may throw at me.

I’m well aware that within a few days or weeks one of my family members or myself could be sick and everything could change.

I also realize the shutdown and subsequent quarantines involves huge ramifications for the economy.

But for today, we are all healthy.

My income is stable. It has even increased during this time of COVID-19 because I took a leap of faith earlier this year.

We have plenty of food and other supplies for the next several months.

Battling change is futile.

But change can often be a blessing in disguise if you can learn to prepare and roll with it.

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With fifteen years of freelance experience, Meg founded Freelance Filter in 2019 to help writers and small business owners learn the technology needed to do business better online. She currently offers private coaching to writers and small business owners. Her favorite nonfiction writing projects deal with marketing, SEO, freelancing, productivity, and technology for writers and small business owners. She's currently working on an SEO guide for beginners and a series of short stories. She's a mother of four and "Grammi" of ten.

Madison, OH
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