• Charlotte Worth

Is it wrong to love lockdown?

On my Facebook memories today, a post I made nine years ago popped up. It simply said “I would love a home cooked meal. Nothing fancy just a bowl of pasta and sauce would be enough to make me smile.” It took me straight back to the last time I was in lockdown. That time I wasn’t at home but languishing for 6 weeks in the antenatal ward at UCHL where I was waiting for my youngest son to be born. Just like now, I loved being in lockdown. I felt safe in my little antenatal bubble, just like I feel safe in the protective cocoon that we have made for ourselves now. But unlike then, there is a part of me now that feels guilty that I am loving having to stay at home, as I know that for many people lockdown really is horrendous.

On Sunday night, after Boris made his speech, my WhatsApp groups started pinging as everyone started to discuss what this next stage meant. For some the thought of being able to go back to some form of their normal life really excited them. They have found lockdown testing and can’t wait to get back to doing something purposeful again. For me my heart sank and my anxiety levels rose. I am scared at the thought of the schools going back and that we will all start going out as if nothing has happened. I am worried that we are not over this yet, that it is too soon, and the infection will rise again.

I know that for many people who are reading this, lockdown is a living hell that they can see no end to, and I do feel a little guilty that my family is flourishing under this new way of life. We have had our hard times in the past and I am sure that we will have more in the future, as I have lost a huge chunk of my income from my other career as an event producer. Nonetheless, in this moment, life is actually good. I am relishing spending so much time with my family and watching our bond become more solid every day. We have always been a close family, and spend a lot of time doing things together, but lockdown has allowed us to enjoy the simple things. Normally, like many families at the weekends or in the holidays, we would be rushing all over the place, always have things planned, have numerous clubs to ferry the kids to, and go on lots of days out. Before lockdown, time at home was spent doing the chores, homework and the kids playing on their own or on the computer. Now, because there is so much time at home, the chores have become a family thing. Cleaning is done by all of us, gardening is no longer an inconvenience it’s actually a pleasure and there is just more time for family down time. It is a time for just sitting and chatting, playing games or simply watching TV together as a family.

I don’t think I am alone in this feeling. There are many families who are benefiting from this extra family time and revelling in it. A few of my friends have told me how much they are loving this additional time with their children, who have returned home from university earlier than planned or their twenty somethings who normally live on their own and just want to be with their loved ones at this time. Others with teenagers have managed to reclaim their child from the clutches of their mobile phones, because nothing exciting is happening on them. There is suddenly time for conversations, games and activities with your family and as a result bonds are being reformed that will hopefully stay beyond lockdown or at least not stretched back to their limits.

For many not being able to see their relatives on a daily basis is definitely distressing, particularly those that normally see them regularly. Nevertheless, for others connections with their parents have increased. Some may only have phoned their parents once a week, but now, because we have been reminded of our vulnerability and have realised how easy it is to lose someone, a lot of us are now speaking daily to our loved ones. But most notably, we are actually listening and caring about what they are saying. It is no longer a duty call, but a call to make sure that the people we hold dear to us are fine both in emotional and physical health. Grandparents, who may normally only have a weekly / monthly conversation with their grandchildren are now getting to spend a lot more time with them virtually. They are helping remotely with home schooling or keeping them entertained by reading stories and playing games online to allow their children a break from the childcare. For those that play a big part in their grandchildren’s lives this is no substitute, but for those that don’t live locally this is actually heaven sent for them, and one that will hopefully transfer over to the new normal.

Just before lockdown started, we bought ourselves and my mum a Facebook Portal, as I was worried that as my Mum lives on her own, and normally has a better social life than me, that life in lockdown would cause her to become lonely. Also not being able to see her in person, I knew I would worry every time she said that she felt ill, and my overactive imagination would have her being carted off in an ambulance at the slightest tickle of a cough.

For us the portal has been one of the best things we have invested in. It really is as good as the advert says. Every day, from when we get up to about 6pm, my mum is in my kitchen and I am in hers. Instead of the pressure of phoning up and trying to think of things to say, when you haven’t really done anything, we all now have little chats throughout the day. It is now a regular sight to see my husband and mum chatting away while both of them are cooking. It has meant that she’s had a little window into daily our lives, joining in our conversations, hearing the laughs, watching the madness that two boys create and witnessing the tears and tantrums of home schooling, with the ability to turn the sound down if it’s all too much More importantly she is not alone. She doesn’t have to join in the conversation, but her house is no longer silent. She can hear the voices of the ones she loves chattering or bickering away in the background, rather than the ticking clock reminding her of the time passing while she is locked in her house. For me I hope that the Portal remains a constant in both our houses, even when normal does comes back.

I am also relishing the fact that it is actually ok to do nothing. I will fully acknowledge that to keep myself sane through all of this I have had to keep myself busy and I have made sure that my week is kept eventful with work and home schooling and the weekend is filled with cleaning, gardening, baking, playing games with my family and so on. However, even with all those things there is still time to do nothing and just read a book or do a jigsaw. For the first time since having kids, I have realised that this is OK and I do not feel guilty lounging in our hammock reading my book or just sitting and daydreaming in the garden soaking up the sun. And I am sure that my husband is also benefiting from a more chilled out wife, as I have noticed that he isn’t hiding in the toilet on his phone as much as he used to do!

A lot of my work before lockdown was from home, so from that point of view nothing has changed for me. However, for my friends who have older children, or a partner that they can share home schooling with, they have found that they are being far more productive, as they have more time on their hands. They are no longer losing a couple of hours a day commuting, they are having more screen breaks, even if it is to just hang the washing out, and they are communicating with their colleagues more effectively. They are also taking proper breaks to have meals with their families or go for a walk instead of working through lunch. Many managers, who have previously been anti flexible working, are finding that it really isn’t as scary as they thought it would be. Working from home isn’t about playing hooky, people can be trusted to do their work as efficiently and effectively as they do in the office. For someone that also tried to fight for flexible working when in a fulltime job, I really do hope that for those that need it, this will continue once normality reigns again. Think how easy it will seem when you aren’t juggling home schooling at the same time.

Having lived on my road for thirteen years I have finally got to know my neighbours. Through WhatsApp chats and Thursday night clapping’s we have bonded, I think. Conversations have flowed more easily, personal stories and worries have been told, garden seeds, flour and recipes have been shared and new friendships have blossomed. For people who live in small towns and villages, this is probably quite normal, but for those, who like me, live in London this is not the norm, but will hopefully be in the future. Even if the rest of my road go back to a polite nod, I will make a point of stopping and saying hello, even at the risk of being seen as the local mad lady.

I realise that this is not the same story for everyone and that for many people out there this has been the worst time in their lives. Brothers, mothers, neighbours, friends and colleagues’ lives have come to a sudden end in a way that 6 months ago we could never have imagined. People have lost their loved ones and not even been able to be with them in their final moments to say their goodbyes and make sure they knew that they were loved. Beyond the loss of loved ones, people livelihoods have fallen into financial ruin. People in hospitals, supermarkets and public transport, to name a just a few, are putting their lives at risk. Domestic violence has gone up dramatically. Children are being neglected. Families are breaking down. If I could change any of that I would, but sadly I do not have the power and like many people will always feel guilty that my family and I are one of the lucky ones. However, who knows what the fallout will be, and our turn may still come, because we never predicted this six months ago, so who is to say what is going to happen in the next six months.

So, for this snapshot in my time, I am counting my blessing and am accepting that lockdown for me has been a time of making happy memories and deeper connections are being formed. I guess that the panic and anxiety I felt on Sunday night was created from the worry that once life goes back to normal all the positives will be lost or at least tempered down. So selfishly I would like lockdown to last just that little bit longer.

What has your lockdown been like? I would love to hear what this time has been like for you.

#lockdown #stillstayingin #fogo #familytime

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