Sarah looks back at her lockdown experience and finds some surprising elements she’d like to keep.
March 2020 was a month of initial highs and later lows. There was the return to school after half-term, an excitement to reach the end of the month to fast forward to British summertime and a distant discomfort about Coronavirus.
When the first UK death occurred in early March, the distant discomfort rocketed to increased anxiety. Then schools shut, lockdown began, and the fear intensified to sheer panic. Lockdown has affected many people in different ways, and it’s important to remind ourselves of that.
While some may benefit or enjoy it, others will face struggles whether it concerns work, money, family, physical or mental health. As lockdown starts to ease, I’ve had time to mull over the strangeness of it, and I have to admit there are some aspects I want to hold on to when this oddness attempts to grasp back the old normal.
The Transition Phase
During the first few weeks of lockdown, everything about my family life was turned upside down and given a vigorous shake. School was shut, we could only go out of the house once and day and my husband worked from home for the first time. As an insurance broker, he usually needs to be in Lloyds working with clients face to face, but he instead began to adapt to homeworking. I’m sure I’m not alone when I admit that the first week or two unsettled us, scared us and we were desperate to revert to life before.
The Effect on Work
As a freelance writer, I no longer have the daily bliss of peace and alone time to work. Instead, I’m fortunate that I can work random hours of the day. Work isn’t so straightforward for others. I know friends who have had job offers revoked, others who are in redundancy consultations and plenty who are furloughed and unsure of the status of their jobs in a few months’ time.
The future of the workplace culture and set up we once knew is unlikely to continue, but that may invoke positive change. I hope the influx of flexible working continues and becomes a workplace norm and that businesses wave a firm goodbye to the culture of presenteeism.
The Ability to Adapt
Throughout all the highs and lows of lockdown, I am amazed at my family’s ability to adapt to what initially appeared to be an impossible situation. We have gradually instilled a routine, and although the house is a constant mess, it works for us. Schoolwork set by teachers gives my children a daily structure, and I try my best to teach them what I can.
One of my favourite aspects of lockdown life is the deletion of a rigid structure. No longer am I required to be somewhere at a particular time. The absence of travel and school runs have undoubtedly reduced stress levels. The same applies to my husband, who gains two hours a day from not commuting. It’s not realistic to believe it will continue once life outside our homes gets moving again, but it’s a lockdown takeaway we can hold onto. I hope to adapt by keeping my diary freer and reducing all the commitments I used to rush around for.
The ‘New Normal.’
It may be one of the most overused phrases at the moment, but it perfectly sums up what we are all dealing with during lockdown, and I expect, for some time to come. It’s now normal (but far from easy!) to home-school and to be around each other all day every day. It’s become a way of life not to see your friends in person or hug your extended family. This semblance of our new world and way of life has rapidly become all we know. And to some extents, all we expect.
No one could have predicted a 2020 global pandemic, and no one can predict how it will affect each individual after it is safe to resume life again. I believe that COVID-19 and the chaos it has caused is changing our mindsets for the better.
To use a cliché, perhaps less is more. Maybe Coronavirus has taught us that we don’t always need to take our children to external or expensive places to entertain them and that many jobs can be effectively carried out from home. Perhaps life coming out of this will be about spending time with the people we care about, rather than the focus being on where we spend time with them. This simpler life we are currently experiencing could be the way forward.