The immediate world outside has shut down. Not slowed, but simply shut down. No locals, no buses, no malls or movie theatres. The coronavirus crisis has forced us into our homes and made sure that we lock our doors to the outside world. With limited supplies, every choice is being analysed over and over again. Yesterday, I was mentally calculating how long will a packet of sugar last us if we only use it in our tea. One wonders if we would have been in this place if we had put more thought into our lifestyle choices before being strong-armed into doing so.
Here are a couple of lifestyle changes that many of us have made in the last few days due to social distancing and lockdown, that can be carried on with for the greater good, once this pandemic is behind us.
Hand hygiene: Almost everyone reading this will admit that this is not how we used to wash our hands. Yuck, but still true. Keeping them clean was certainly never such a priority. Despite running a risk of developing a hand hygiene obsession, and extreme dryness, this is one habit that we need to be internalising. It isn’t just coronavirus that spreads from fomites (contaminated surfaces that help spread the infection.) Think of all the dirty doors at public toilets, supermarkets, railways stations, and even restaurants you may have touched before people began to wash their hands intensely. Would you like to go back to that?
Saving water: And while we are washing our hands ferociously, moms and dads have the added responsibility to teach children (and some adults as well) about saving water. You don’t have to keep the tap running while you lather up. Since most of us are now towering over our young ones to ensure they go through the twenty-second routine properly, it has also brought their tap-habits to our notice. A perfect opportunity to squeeze in a lesson on saving water as well. Especially in times when the water has become such an essential component of our well-being (not it is wasn't before). Bottom line: You need water to wash your hands and stay clear of coronavirus. So save it.
Despite running a risk of developing a hand hygiene obsession, and extreme dryness, this is one habit that we need to be internalising.
Sustainable living: Some days ago we ran out of sketchbooks for the kid. It made us scan through all used up drawing books for empty pages, until we realised that a lot of pages could be reused for painting or craft. And why just art and craft and DIY, recycling and minimization of waste generation has found a whole new meaning in our houses under this lockdown. Everything from plastic wraps to leftover food is being recycled because we simply have lesser resources at hand and plenty of time to think this through. Before we are done with this social distancing cycle, recycling might become a habit for us and our children, and in the longer run, it needs to evolve into a mindset. Clothes, food, paper, plastic, what else can I do with this? Why not make this question a part of our lifestyle?
Saving electricity: Being at home all the time doesn’t mean wasting electricity. We Indians take our Bijli ka bill very seriously. So even in times of social distancing elders in the family often suggest that we sit together in one room to conserve electricity. That is not a bad idea, in fact, I think this needs to be a lifelong habit. Handheld devices have made sitting in one room with the family a tolerable exercise. So when social distancing is over, why not make it a habit to try and save electricity by sitting with the family in one room, at least for some time?
The burden of cooking, dusting, washing, clothes and utensils, especially in the absence of maids is too much for one person to shoulder. But household chores need to be divided among all house members, even after we are out of this lockdown.
Home-cooked meals: Okay, I know a lot of us are just missing the outside world because we cannot wine and dine anymore. The first thing we plan to do when this lockdown is over is to go out to have coffee and bagels. Ordering in food has also come to a halt, which means we are cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner at home, seven days a week. It is but natural to miss ordering in, takeaways and dining out. But I feel we are eating healthier with home cooking, aren't we? I am not saying one should always cook at home, but cooking at home more often is both healthy and economical. Don’t believe me? Just check all the order-in bills for the last few months. Cooking is a life skill that every person, irrespective of gender should know. And not just so that you can survive without your mummy and the delivery guys amidst such outbreaks, but because cooking at home somehow make you value food and local produce more.
Distribution of household chores: If you are not going to the office, there is possibly no excuse for you now, if you are not helping out with household chores. The burden of cooking, dusting, washing, clothes and utensils, especially in the absence of maids is too much for one person to shoulder. While a lot of women are putting their foot down and demanding that their children and partners help out as well, the division of duties at home shouldn't come to an end when this pandemic does.
The views expressed are the author's own.