We are now at the end of week 3 of life in lockdown and it still feels surreal. I don’t think that I’ll ever get used to standing 2 metres apart from people in the supermarket queue, or holding my breath every time someone walks past my trolley. I certainly won’t miss the evil stares that are thrown at anyone who dares to walk the opposite way to the arrows on the floor. I’ve taken to rushing in and out as quickly as possible, often ending up with the wrong cereal or no proper meals, purely because I can’t think straight!
It’s amazing the emotions that come and go from one day to the next, isn’t it? Perhaps it’s simply that we have more time to focus on our emotions. Usually we are rushing around so fast that we unintentionally (or sometimes intentionally) bypass them. My therapist would be proud of these newly-found mindfulness skills!
I’ve taken to writing notes during the week, with a view to documenting my thoughts on here. One day can easily merge into the next and I want to keep account of our experience and my feelings during this strange, but important time in history.
Most mornings this week, I’ve woken with the heavy realisation that nothing has changed. We remain in this strange new world where tragically, people are dying by the thousands. I’m not sure whether it’s the feeling of groundhog day, or the nightmares I keep waking from, but the OH has born the brunt of my grumpiness this week.
I’m not a morning person at the best of times but this is testing me to the limit. Thankfully for him, he goes into the office most days (our business continues to provides an essential service to the NHS and schools) so I have about 3 hours to get myself together before I need to be civil to anyone else (possibly another reason why my teenagers don’t surface until midday!).
I don’t know about you, but as the day goes on, I regularly sink back into this strange feeling of being on holiday without a care in the world. Until I catch the news or attempt to venture to the post office to send a parcel that may, or may not, reach its recipient within the week.
Living in this stark reality of life standing still, there’s an eerie silence in the waiting. Worse still, none of us know exactly what we are waiting for.
Getting Over the Hump
By the middle of the week, I
think hope I had reached the peak of boredom, over-eating, irritation and generally feeling ‘over it’.
I think I needed to say it out loud (on Instagram and to some friends via FaceTime) to kind of get it out of my system, because since then I’ve felt better. I don’t know about you but I’m often the one that’s pulling us all together, staying positive, coming up with the activities. But even I’ve had enough sometimes!
You know what I’ve realised? This whole feeling of life standing still, can be a good thing. Instead of seeing this enforced pause as a punishment, I’ve started to see it as a blessing.
There’s no way that I would normally allow myself to stop and relax in this way. Even when on holiday I begin getting agitated by day 9, ready to come home and start the rat-race again. I so rarely get over the other side of the hump and let myself truly relax. Of course this isn’t the same as being on holiday, because the horror of this nightmare remains, but my attitude whilst in it, can make a world of difference to myself and those around me.
Funny how I chose ‘Pause’ as my word for 2020 – God definitely has a sense of humour!
Appreciating the Small Things
I’ve heard this said by various people over the last few weeks and it’s true – the small (or seemingly ordinary) things in life have become so much more.
Delivering basic food parcels as a volunteer worker, it’s been wonderful to watch people’s eyes light up as they open their front doors. People who have suddenly found themselves classed as ‘vulnerable’ and at the mercy of strangers.
Then of course we’ve seen the arrival of blossom, that has surpassed even its usual incredible capabilities. Not to mention the sheer pleasure of reading a magazine for half an hour when you really need some space (just me?).
Or ending the day around a small campfire, toasting marshmallows and dissecting each character in the Gavin and Stacey reruns that have come into their own lately.
Earlier in the week, my son classed this time as ‘easier than normal life to be honest’. Obviously if you’re a 15 year old boy who isn’t particularly keen on school work or getting up before midday, then I can see the appeal. Thinking about it however, for many of us this is actually true.
I sincerely hope that when this this is over, we don’t rush straight back into our usual fast-paced lives.
I don’t want us to forget to look up and out towards others. I don’t want us to stop appreciating the small things in life. I don’t want us to forget the positive times spent getting to know our immediate families better. I don’t want us to quit exercising our creative muscles, or appreciating one another’s talents.
Most of all, I don’t want us ever to forget how tirelessly those on the front-lines have worked to heal us, support us and provide the most essential of services to our nation.
Are you finding life in lockdown to be a blessing or a curse?
Gail Brown3 years ago
I agree, Suzanne – there is so much we can take forward from this time and into the future. As an introvert in a houseful of introverts, I know this period is easier for us than it is for some. Like you, I find myself appreciating the small things (blossom arrives a little later up here but I am so looking forward to it). I don’t enjoy supermarket trips just now either – they seem to put the situation into sharper focus, somehow, don’t they? When this is ‘over’ I think there could well be a residual nervousness of doing everyday things like that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts again Suzanne – I think the ‘journaling’ of this period is so important for us all. xx
Suzanne W3 years ago AUTHOR
I’m scared in a way, that we won’t learn from it which is partly why I’m writing all of this down. We are conditioned into slipping back to our normal habits and I just hope that some of it stays. xx
Plutonium Sox3 years ago
Oh I feel just the same, I vary between being thankful for the time at home, appreciating the little things and being grateful for where we live and then being absolutely, unbearably bored. I’ve been so bored I’ve enquired about getting my law degree back up to date so I can qualify as a solicitor. I’m pretty sure it’s just the boredom talking from that perspective but this has definitely made me feel like I need to do something a bit more challenging. I’m glad you’ve been feeling better in the second half of the week, I hope that feeling continued and you managed to enjoy the Easter weekend.
Suzanne W3 years ago AUTHOR
I’m exactly the same! The pendulum swing is quite something else isn’t it? It’s important to recognise our feelings though, I think. Keeps us sane and grounded. I had some really down days this week but picked myself back up. I understand exactly what you mean about doing something more challenging. I think because we’ve got the time, we are weighing up what we really want to do. Now’s the time!
Sarah MumofThree World3 years ago
I totally get this! And I really love your son’s attitude! I hope that when life goes back to ‘normal’ that we can take forward some of the lessons we’ve learned about living life in a simpler way.
If you’d asked me six weeks ago what I would think about being stuck at home all the time, I would have said it would be impossible, But I’m coping a lot better than I thought I would (apart from the supermarket – I hate it so much that my husband has taken over, it’s apparently easier than dealing with my moaning!). It’s really teaching us to appreciate everything we have.
By being the awkward sod in our house that has gone and caught the virus, I’m now forcing my family into taking the next level and self-isolating. All but one of them are coping very well. Sadly I don’t think my eldest has actually spoken to me for about three days because obviously I got ill just to make his life difficult.
Suzanne W3 years ago AUTHOR
I too would have said it would be impossible, especially with hormonal teenagers and pre-menopausal mothers under one roof!! But we’ve survived 3 weeks and we can keep going. Can’t believe that your son blames you for getting ill! On the other hand, I think one of mine might react like that so can understand it lol. Hope you’re feeling better really soon. When all of this is over, if you have had it, you might be the only one to be able to go out and about or travel. Then your son will have something to say!
BLEKE3 years ago
“Appreciating the Small Things” — Coincidentally (or not!), the last thing I was reading before I saw your tweet notifying us of this blogpost, was from an anonymous contributor to another blog:
“This quarantine […] made me pause and savo[u]r the small things again. It made me reevaluate what I want to do with my life. Excellence in the small things, the fundamentals, is more important than “success” in their absence.”
I’d agree with what your son said, with the addition of two words: life in lockdown is easier than normal life *on balance*. (For the people who are battling on the front line, of course, life has become more difficult and demanding.)
As you mentioned, shopping at the supermarket is more of a hassle than it used to be. (I now see that other commenters have already mentioned this!) Not only do we have to queue to get in, but we queue longer than usual at the checkouts. The one good point is that when we are making our way round the aisles, it is less crowded, and quieter.
Suzanne W3 years ago AUTHOR
Yes I realise that for many, life has become infinitely harder – lost jobs, separated from loved ones, those who have contracted the virus and essential workers. We all have our crosses to bear of course but on balance, life is easier. We just don’t like it cos we aren’t used to it!
Shivaun3 years ago
I really love this particularly piece. It’s totally the same for me. Today , finally ( nearly four weeks into lockdown as we were in isolation from 17th March due to sons flu or whatever it was – I then had bronchitis) so finally I feel the light. I still have the dread ( when I see the news) but finally I am thankful for the small things . 1/ have been doing daily and sometimes twice daily online yoga which I e never had the motivation for. 2/ my cooking has improved 3/ I’m walking the dog a lot more ( and myself ). 4/ getting on better with hubby and teen kids. 5/ sleeping better. 6/ spending less money. 6/ listening to myself think … there are days when I cannot see these positives but I just keep on with the yoga and the cooking xxxxxx
Suzanne W3 years ago AUTHOR
This is really insightful and I think you’re doing great! It’s so important to recognise when we are doing well, especially at the moment because we have not real achievements to focus on, especially the kind we are used to. Keep up the yoga, sounds like it’s doing you loads of good!
Lisa3 years ago
I can’t help feeling a little jealous! My work life is carrying on ‘as usual’ (things have obviously changed at work, but hours and such are the same). I don’t underestimate how difficult it could be, especially with the needs and struggles some members have, however I still feel the rush and pressure somehow. (In fact, I’ve literally just realised that!!).
I am very grateful that Jules and I still have our jobs. Beth is furloughed (sp?). Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than happy to be a keyworker and ‘do my bit’……..although some of our ‘customers’ seem to be getting bored of being kind and grateful!
I hope we really learn from this time, too.
Jo - Mother of Teenagers3 years ago
Looking up and out towards others is a phrase that really strikes a chord Suzanne with me and many no doubt. Life pre-lockdown was always so hectic and full-on and there is some joy in the simplicity of where are now, even if it has taken us all a while to find it. I love your son’s sentiment that life now is easier than normal. Wonderful to hear such words from a teen no less! X