Lockdown: survive or thrive?

Lockdown: survive or thrive?

Can you remember first hearing about the possibility of our world shutting down?

I can. I can remember a nauseous feeling just thinking about schools and nurseries closing and panicking about how I would still be able to work. How would I work with children around me all the time? How would my husband be able to work (he owns a restoration and construction firm)? And the home-schooling! How am I going to teach the 6 year old with a 3 year old in tow and two businesses to run? Clearly, work is a big thing that I worry about, so if I was struggling to thrive already, how on earth would I do so in lockdown?

I need regular time on my own and knew that I wouldn’t get any if we went into lockdown as my husband just wouldn’t be around to share the load. It would all be on me. How would we all survive?

Four months down the line, I’m going to come out and say it: lockdown has been the best thing that could have happened to our family. We have, indeed, managed to thrive.

That isn’t the case for everyone – loss of loved ones, loss of work, mental health, domestic abuse, chronic illness are just a few reasons why it has been hell for some people.

I count us extremely fortunate that we have not had to contend with most of the above. That isn’t to say we have been skipping barefoot through the orchard every day. Anxiety is an old friend that I spend a lot of time with, and having so much uncertainty and literally no time on my own has been a daily battle, fuelled by the worries about health and income. Sometimes I’m OK, sometimes really not.

Lockdown: Survive or Thrive

But what this pandemic has done is provide a big fat pause button for me. A button that, in all honestly, I would never have pressed voluntarily. A button that has allowed me to survive lockdown, and thrive.

A huge burden was lifted from me:

  • There were no activities to ferry the children to, buy kit for, and organise our lives around.
  • I didn’t have to squeeze in or plan for any social dates. Guess who arranges the baby sitter, the present, the cards, the children to be ready, the washing to be done so the outfits are ready?
  • No appointments – doctor, dentist, hair, school, meetings etc
  • I saved two hours a day purely by not having to do the school and nursery runs!
  • No running schedule. If you don’t have kids, this is the unattainable task of knowing what point you need to end up at (e.g. the children being asleep by 7.30pm) and reverse engineering every little thing in the day so that you hit that point. The meals, the journeys, the packing, the unpacking, the washing, the work, the picking up, the form filling, the shopping, the cooking, the cleaning, the endless planning and rushing. Everything scheduled within an inch of its life. On repeat, every day.
  • The kids started to get up when they woke up rather than with the alarm. I still get up at 5.00am (see comment above about needing time on my own!).
  • No endless/needless purchasing. We couldn’t nip to a cafe because we were at a loose end. I didn’t rush to the shop to get one item and spend £20 on unnecessary additional items.
  • No driving – I have put half a tank in my car in four months!

A chance to reflect and reassess

It’s not just all the things that I don’t have to do, it’s about the opportunities this has given us to reassess our life.

For example, I had known it was time to part company with a client that I didn’t feel aligned with any more. I recognised that the retainer was a security net that was actually holding me back – it was reliable income, convenient work and nice people, but it didn’t ignite me any more and so I didn’t feel I was able to give my all. In the first week of lockdown, I chatted to my husband about how it was time to move on from the client and the next day I got a voicemail to serve notice. Talk about serendipity.

Suffice to say that the work thing has worked out for the best and I’m much happier for it.

I think that’s the crux of the experience for me – I’m valuing and prioritising the things that are making me happy. I’m also starting to recognise what doesn’t make me happy and not being afraid to turn away.

But this has been a whole lot easier in lockdown – lockdown has given me permission.

Lockdown has made me prioritise things differently

I’m struggling to put this into words; before lockdown, priorities were not something I actively chose. They were enforced. A requirement to commit by a certain date, a work deadline, pressure from ‘someone’ to do ‘something’ and so on, ad infinitum. I could never thrive in that lifestyle, something had to change.

Now, my priorities have shifted. We even made a mood board for our goals! That was a new experience and yes, that is a tractor on there.

Interestingly the goals all centre around ‘having more time’.

Lessons I appreciate being able to learn

  • My fortnightly online NLP sessions are crucial for me to value myself and look after my mental health.
  • Yoga and meditation are my anchors.
  • I need a creative outlet.
  • I need time on my own – it makes me a better, nicer person and a lot easier to be around.
  • My daughter is a really diligent learner – so fortunate on that score!
  • My son is very chilled and can amuse himself for hours.
  • Both my children are really good friends.
  • Both my children are amazing.
  • I want to have a successful career – my version of success is unique to me.
  • Going to go to bed shattered isn’t the only sign I have worked hard.
  • I don’t have to have worked hard to be valued.
  • It’s OK to let things slide on the to do list.
  • I am categorically not ready to embrace going grey.

As things start to ease with lockdown – the schools and shops are opening, restrictions are lifting, I’ve had my hair done – I’m feeling a little uneasy. I don’t want to slide back into my old life unwittingly.

How do I make sure that I don’t end up run ragged again? How do I continue to survive and thrive?

I don’t have the foolproof answer to that. I’m trying to make mindful choices to reach our goals as a family. I’m not sure if we’ll make it 100% but I am happy to try 100%.

My question to you is this:

How are you going to make your life better tomorrow and for every other tomorrow you are fortunate to have?