While we’re all anxious to get back to normal, I wonder if we realize what we might miss. As much as this quarantine creates eerie, chaotic day after day, week after week, maybe many of us really needed a reboot. For some, our “furnace” regulators were no longer doing their intended job; in fact they were becoming so deregulated, that nothing was peaceful, calm, tolerable. Would any of us have wished for this, the chance for every day to be an ideal “do-over”? That one school email transformed working parents into unprepared homeschooling teachers, full-time mediators and consultants.

Social distancing immediately evokes anxiety, yet physical distancing is necessary. I imagine most of us are discovering we’re not socially distancing, now more than ever in touch with old friends, former neighbors and colleagues, distant family. We have less time and yet more, reaching out across cyberspace to connect in ways we were always too rushed to manage. What do we forfeit instead? Perhaps another Netflix marathon, or a game of Scrabble, a puzzle, none of which seems as compelling as the warm feelings conjured up on FaceTime with dear friends.

We’re longing for the physical embraces, the shared laughter, the noisy rooms of social gatherings, eye contact and spontaneous smiles, ready to resume our previous lives. But what will we truly miss about this time, this relentless confinement? This is the staycation we never would have taken otherwise. Of course there’s the financial impact most of us are experiencing. Some have lost their jobs. Some have food insecurity. Some domestic partners are sequestered with abusive or violent partners. For some children, their only safe place is school.The chorus of “we’re all in this together” may be comforting on some level, yet we must realize that the lost livelihoods and lives, the terrible casualties of this crisis, are not equally bestowed.

Although it’s quite understandable that family relationships can be strained with everyone stuck at home during this lockdown, many families are finding this has brought them closer than they previously were. What was once a stressful, tightly scheduled array of children’s activities, homework, parents’ work, domestic chores, dog walking, and social gatherings has been replaced with time for family dinners, game nights, walks in the woods, biking together, stimulating conversations and storytelling. Intimate partners in quarantine together for the foreseeable future may be experiencing increased struggles and tension, or possibly a rare opportunity to grow closer together — making time to communicate more effectively, remaining mindful of each other’s needs, while creating the emotional, mental and physical space to honor pre-quarantine self-care, sustaining daily routines.

In many ways, we’ve been forced to slow our pace, to pay closer attention to the minutiae of our daily lives. Without children in school, commuting to work, outside meetings, volunteering, childcare, we are simply left with long, multifaceted days. Yet, despite the challenges of daily monotony, frustration, and stress, this sheltering in place provides the chance to be the parent, or the partner, we may always have wanted to be.

There’s a meaningful, surprisingly peaceful aura about this that would not have been possible in normal life. Parents at home with their children might be noticing an unfamiliar softening of the pressure inherent in their once-sacred freedom. For young children especially, being locked down at home with their parents just might be a gift from the gods. Every day is a chance to start fresh, to forgive ourselves and our children, recalling that a “mistake is an opportunity to learn.” So every day is “Groundhog Day.” Thus, given this chance to slow down, to focus on what really matters, we can try to make it everything it can be. If we pay close attention to the positive shifts in family life now, I wonder if resuming chaotic schedules, filling up every spare minute on our calendars, and ensuring our children are kept constantly busy will be what we choose again. When this quarantine has passed, perhaps our family’s “reset” will matter enough to shape how we move forward differently.

“There’s a clean singularity of purpose for a parent in lockdown: Your priorities are clarified. In normal times, weekdays are a blur, and weekends are packed with chores, errands, and social events scheduled long ago. Many days I’ve felt that the only moment of undistracted time with my son is story time before bed, an immovable, unavoidable, simple routine during which distractions are removed, lights dimmed, calm restored — like going to the cinema. My life today is like one long bedtime story.” — Tom McTague