I know I’m not alone in not wanting life to return to normal after Lockdown. It’s been in the news a lot in the last week or so. Surveys have been carried out and it’s said that only 9% of Brits want life to return to normal after the COVID-19 Lockdown. That’s an astounding amount of people wanting to hold on to some of what they’ve gained during being confined to their homes. People are facing financial hardships, social isolation and loss of their jobs. We are having to home educate our children, work remotely and mourn our loved ones from a distance. Yet even with their extraordinary challenges, there are still positives being felt by the majority of those in the survey, (– commissioned by the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission (FFCC) and the Food Foundation charity.)
My partner has been categorised as a keyworker so little has changed for his routine. However, having me as home full time has meant we no longer have the mad dash at the beginning and end of the working days to swap over with childcare. There were some weeks when we barely managed more than a quick peck on the cheek by the front door. He works nights and I work days. Yes, it means the kids always have one parent with them at all times, but it also means that on a normal day, we can easily spend less than an hour in the same company. Supposedly absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it can also breed resentment and a feeling of isolation for us both.
Life in lockdown
Since being on lockdown, I’ve been at home all day. Now, that’s not ideal. I love work and I’ve had to stop, only dialling into daily calls and doing online training. It’s also meant that the bulk of housework and home education has fallen on me, again, less than ideal. I won’t lie, I’ve found some of the parenting during lockdown very hard. Trying to explain to a pre-schooler why all her activities, her Playgroup, the shops, the playground are all out of bounds for the foreseeable future is trying, particularly when you have to have the same conversation multiple times per day. But the good outweighs the bad.
Quality time and priorities
I’ve been able to spend so much quality time with my kids and partner. We’ve had long, meaningful conversations and loads of silly ones too! Normally, the only words my kids would have heard were me telling them to get out of bed or go to bed. To clean up the mess they created on the floor or to ‘wait just one more second’. Always busy, always stressed, always time-poor. Always with some imagined pressure to do more and do it quicker. That’s all gone now. The days are longer than I could have imagined. I’ve had time to rekindle a love of Youtube and Netflix, which has even made me consider moving country after the pandemic, though I’d imagine nothing will come of it, at least not straight away.
Food glorious food
We’ve made 99% of meals from scratch including banana fritter snacks more times than I can count. No more grabbing a takeaway on the way home because there just wasn’t time to cook an entire meal. Or more likely, nobody had the energy to cook it. We’ve baked more cookies, cakes and muffins in the past month than in the whole of last year. And the kids are learning from it. They are learning math, science and how to cooperate. Something that a 9 year age gap between the girls has always made difficult.
Life is far from perfect. Every time my parents ring I fear that it’s to let me know that one of them are displaying symptoms or has been rushed to hospital. My recurring nightmare. Living with two at-risk children (they both have severe asthma and poor immune systems) and a partner who has to go out daily amongst a pandemic riddled city is beyond worrying. Yet still, this past month or so has taught me so much about what and whom I value. About prioritising and loving. Work-life balance and living more whole existences. I don’t think I’ve had so many group chats ever and I am so thankful that we’re privileged enough to have the technology to keep in touch.
So whilst I want this pandemic to slow down and for everything to re-open. I don’t want to return to normal after COVID-19. I don’t want to be that mum who only has energy half of the week to be present. Or the partner who gives her man a kiss at the front door like two ships passing in the night. Let’s keep the connection. The baking. The slow time and the smiles.