I know I have been quiet of late but unlike many people, my life during lockdown has never been so busy. I have gone from teaching a mere two evenings a week to teaching online five days a week. It has been a major shock to the system, but it has been good to be able to do something rewarding and I doubt it will last for longer than the Summer. I am also writing articles for publications in anticipation of when my book is published in September – all being well. These weeks during lockdown have been hectic and the positive side of this is that there is a distinction between the working week and the weekend. I look forward to Friday evening when we can relax and take it easy.
Many people are starting to come out of lockdown now. Tentative steps are being taken to open shops and get the economy moving again. As a family though, we are probably going to remain in isolation for a good while yet. There are some things I miss such as days out and seeing my Dad, but I can honestly say that I have quite enjoyed this period of slowing down and spending time together as a family. Of course, I am lucky that I have a family and a garden. I know I would feel differently if I was living on my own or without an outside space.
Whenever I have been through a difficult period of my life, one principle that has always enabled me to get through some of the darkest times, has been that experiences teach us something. I therefore decided to reflect back on the past few months and consider what I have learned during this period. I also asked my family for their input.
I AM NOT GREY
I think the most shocking revelation for me has been that I am not as grey on my hair as I thought I was. And yes, I know that sounds vain and rather flippant. I used to have a colour put on every six weeks at the absolute latest. I bemoaned my grey roots and even though I had never liked having red hair, I felt that it was an essential part of my identity. Of course, an enforced period without my hairdresser has meant that I have had to let my hair colour fade and grow out. I did think about home-dye, but my hairdresser had forbidden me to use one. I waited patiently for the grey hair to appear. However, I was elated when I discovered that my hair was not in fact grey but a very subtle shade of strawberry-blonde. I have spent nearly fifty years telling people I wanted to be blonde. It would appear that my wish has come true.
WORKING FROM HOME
When I went into work before lockdown, I always felt that work would take over the entire day. I worked from 4-8:30pm but since I like to be early and give myself plenty of time to get ready, work would end up taking up much of the day and the evening. Now that I am working from home, I save so much time that work has become part of my life instead of work being my life on certain days. When I used to get a ten-minute work break, I would waste it by just sitting waiting for my students to arrive. Now I use that ten-minute period to go in the garden, have a break and a cup of tea. Working from home means that you can do much more. In your lunch break you can start to prepare the evening meal. You can spend time as a family sat outside having lunch. The lack of time spent travelling means that the day or time working does not begin in such a fraught manner. Time spent travelling is wasted time. But without the time needed to commute you can employ that in a much more positive manner. Have a much more leisurely breakfast. Do the odd household chore so that you do not feel so snowed-under.
EATING BETTER WITH LESS WASTE
We have eaten much more healthily during lockdown. I do tend to cook most meals from scratch but in lockdown every meal has been cooked from scratch without buying any food or resorting to take-aways. My son used to have a ready-made sandwich and pasta salad at college. Now I cook him meals he can heat up for his lunch. We have also stopped wasting food. Having only one shop a week makes you more careful with meal planning and so little gets wasted. It also puts an end to those mid-week shops when you might pop out because you happen to fancy eating something. If we have leftovers from dinner, in the past we would have most likely thrown them away because we would have no need for them. However, in lockdown, we find ourselves keeping leftovers and using them for lunches on the following day. We have learned the importance of being resourceful. Substituting items when you do not have everything to create a meal. For a time, we have experienced a disruption in our bin collections. This meant that we had to start cutting cardboard and plastic into smaller pieces so it would fit in the bin.
CONNECTING AS PART OF A COMMUNITY
We have always been polite to our neighbours but since we all lead such busy lives, we rarely have time to speak. Having more free time and seeing our neighbours on the regular ‘clap for carers’ Thursday has meant that we have felt more a part of a community. It has been lovely hearing the children next door as they play and see people come out to clap or bang assorted objects
PUTTING LIFE INTO PERSPECTIVE
There are many things that I regarded as difficult situations prior to lockdown, and these seem to have melted away. I suspect this makes us aware of what matters in our lives and what really is unnecessary. I do think that the older generation in their seventies and beyond seem to have had a more stoic perspective to this crisis and much might be down to their experience of previous National Crises such as: rationing, the Miners’ Strike, and the Three-Day Week. It must have been hard for this generation since many have had to face lockdown alone and away from their families. They may have lost their freedom and their independence, but they keep themselves busy and you will rarely hear them complain.
PLANNING FOR EVERY EVENTUALITY
There will be a day when you might need those savings. Plan for every eventuality as you never know what may be around the corner and how easily your life can change.
Of course, there have been bad days. Days when I have desperately wanted to see someone else. Days when I want to see my Dad. Days when I would love to go out shopping or to the hairdressers and days when as a family we get on each other’s nerves. But the grounding soon returns when I realise how lucky we are. There are people facing hardship, facing fear, and facing uncertainty such as those that have continued working during this crisis, putting their lives at risk. Whilst I have been at home with my family, in my garden, drinking tea, reading books and working from home.
I hope that you are all safe and well.