Away from Home During the Pandemic? The Case of Kelly Ripa

Sheltering in place

Posted Jun 15, 2020

Wikimedia/Free Use
Sheltering in place
Source: Wikimedia/Free Use

There is no question that almost everyone’s daily life has been turned upside down by the pandemic, as we struggle to keep our social distance. Some of us are literally staying home, but many, either by choice or necessity, have chosen to get out, or remain out, of town to shelter in place.

Kelly Ripa and husband Mark Consuelos, for example, were on vacation when the stay at home orders were given, and they decided that it was best to remain where they were. The celebrity couple and their three kids have been sheltering in place in the Caribbean since March.

"I've been most grateful that at least I have my adult children with me. I mean, we have family staying in our house and they're still back home and we're here and it's very unsettling," Ripa said. "I think people are unsettled everywhere, everywhere, across the country and across the globe." While they are lucky to be in a beautiful place during this time, they are not alone in feeling displaced and unsettled. If you are among those away from home, what can you do to get through and find some grounding?

People have left their homes and headed out of town for a variety of reasons, including wanting more space, hoping to avoid shared areas such as hallways, elevators, and lobbies, and also in an attempt to get away from some of the hot spots where cases of the virus are on the rise. For these reasons, a fair number of people are either renting houses or are moving in with their family. In some cases adult children are coming home, or parents are moving in with their children, depending on who has more room and who is seemingly farther away from infection hotspots.

On the outside such scenarios may be like the poppy fields in The Wizard of Oz.—seeming to be wonderful but not as good as it looks. If you return to a place you’ve been each summer hoping it will be what it has always been, you will likely find it quite different because of the times. If you are navigating a completely unfamiliar area, you may feel strangely out of place. Furthermore, if you are living with family members, you may be facing intense dynamics as you try to uphold your own household rules or live by theirs.

Any such arrangement can ramp up anxiety—which is already high because of the pandemic. While planning a vacation is filled with excitement, it is also fraught with a certain degree of separation anxiety in making sure you have what you need to feel safe and secure in a new place.

Some people left home thinking they would be back in a week or two, and are now, like Kelly and Mark, finding that those few weeks are turning into months. Since the time frame has shifted, it is likely they don’t have their basics to provide security for a longer period of time.

Others who are intentionally looking to be away for the whole summer may find they want to pack all the things that give them comfort, even though that isn’t practical. As if that’s not enough, people may be experiencing guilt for having an option to live elsewhere while so many others are stuck in place, or wrestling with envy and resentment that some people have wound up in situations that seems markedly better than your own.

The key for dealing with with such situations is to keep  expectations realistic, starting with what you take with you. If you haven't brought everything you wish you did, look to be flexible and innovative and explore new ways of doing things that may end up working even better.than the old ones.

If your family is staying with you and you expected the stay to be terrific and filled with a lot of time hanging out together, keep in mind that everyone’s emotions and sense of control has been upended. Consequently, visitors may need to establish their own autonomy and not feel ruled by your timing or needs. Try to plan out your time with them rather than just assuming they will share in the activities you want to do with them.

In addition, while some of the temporary homes may not be as ideal as you had hoped or thought they would be—no air conditioning as summer approaches—know that it's a pick-your-poison situation. And while temporary quarters may not be the best, you may well be free of the constraints and fears that accompanied living with at home. It's a case of finding balance, rather than being distressed if things aren’t perfect. Keeping your expectations in check will minimize your disappointment.

Everyone is trying to get through this period and remain safe and healthy. With that overriding goal in mind, it's possible to let go of what might otherwise be upsetting.