5 Things That Are Helping Us Cope With Lockdown
While our first two weeks of lockdown were a blur of non-COVID-related illness , and desperate attempts to get our heads around what was happening, as our third week of isolation has progressed, we’ve started to come up with some ideas to help us all cope.
They’re not GREAT ideas, admittedly. I mean, if you’ve clicked on this post thinking, “Oh, cool: some awesome ideas on how to pass the time while this bizarre shitshow plays out,” I’m afraid this is not the post you’re looking for … because, with an energetic toddler to look after, and a business to attempt to keep afloat, well, let’s just say that Terry and I will probably NOT be learning a second language or taking up new hobbies during lockdown, and leave it at that.
(I don’t mean that to sound like a complaint, by the way: I know there are tons of people out there who’d love who to have our particular problems right now, so I mention them purely for context: I think we can all agree that this situation sucks for everyone, really – it just sucks in different ways…)
Here’s what we have been doing, instead…
TRYING TO STICK TO A VAGUE ROUTINE
For the first week or so, Terry and I were both too ill – and, well, too depressed, really – to do much more than drag our sorry selves through each day as best we could, while allowing Max to watch way too much TV. As we soon discovered, though, sitting around doing nothing makes for a really long day, so, now that we’re (almost) back to full health again, we’ve been doing our best to stick to a vague kind of routine each day.
I say “vague” here: at 2, Max is still too young, really, to benefit from a strict schedule (And I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved I am that we aren’t expected to home school him: to everyone having to do that right now, I salute you…), but we find that the day goes faster when it has at least a little bit of structure, so our morning and bedtime routines have remained exactly the same as before, and, during the rest of the day, Terry and I have been trying to alternate childcare “shifts” – so, I’ll have Max for a couple of hours in the morning, then Terry takes over for the next two, and so on and so forth.
Again, we don’t stick to this too rigidly, and sometimes it falls by the wayside altogether, if one of us has something we particularly need to do, but, as well as breaking up Max’s day a little, it also means that Terry and I both get to have some much-needed time to ourselves each day, to do whatever it is that needs to be done. (In my case, it’s normally washing my hair. Yeah, I picked a REALLY bad time to get a new set of hair extensions , didn’t I?)
(We’re obviously fortunate that both of us are at home to allow us to do this: how lone parents manage, I will never, ever know…)
We’ve also been doing our best to give our week a bit of structure too, by sticking to some of our old traditions, such as our Friday night Netflix binge. To be honest, I actually feel quite guilty about this, because, as we no longer have any outside childcare, and we know our business is going to struggle to make it through all of this, I feel like we should be working every opportunity we get right now, rather than watching TV, or whatever. With that said, though, we also have to acknowledge that looking after Max all day, and then working all night, every night, would make for a pretty miserable existence, really – and things are miserable enough as it is, without ever having a single night off, right?
LIMITING NEWS CONSUMPTION
So, I’ve been following the Coronavirus pandemic pretty closely ever since the start of January, when it started to pick up in China: which means I’ve been worrying about it obsessively for over three months now. I knew perfectly well, of course, that tracking the progress of a virus was a spectacularly bad idea for someone with severe health anxiety , but, well, what can I say: by mid-January, the anxiety had well and truly taken the wheel, and, no matter how many times I told myself – or was told by various family members – that I REALLY needed to stop reading random forum threads, and following links on Twitter, I found it so all-consuming that I just couldn’t stop.
So, I’d go to bed every night, and then lie awake for hours, reading – and worrying – about the virus, then I’d wake up in the morning and immediately reach for my phone, to see if there were any updates. Yeah, if you look up “STUPID” in the dictionary, I’m pretty sure you’ll find my photo staring back at you…
Now that the virus is well and truly HERE, though, I’ve actually found myself reading about it less than I used to. I’d love to be able to say that that’s because I’ve finally gotten some sense, but it’s actually just because I can’t keep up with the news any more – and also because some of the things being reported are so awful that even I know better than to click on the links.
I’ve not weaned myself off the news entirely, obviously – it’s still the first thing I look at when I wake up every morning – but, these days I’ve been limiting myself to just two trusted sources (BBC and Sky News, in case you’re wondering. I know neither is infallible, and both can be scary, but they’re definitely better than Twitter and Reddit, so I guess that’s something…), and avoiding the stories I know will just upset me more. I’m still a nervous wreck, obviously, but I think this is one of those situations where too much information can be a really, really bad thing, so limiting my news consumption can only help.
While I’ve been trying to dial down my obsessive Googling, though, Terry has stepped his up a notch. As someone with a background in science, however, he’s most interested in reading about the progress being made towards fighting the virus, and creating a vaccine for it, and, any time he comes across something he thinks might reassure me a little in that vein, he’ll forward it on. This has been really helpful for me, because while I’ve found that a lot of what we’ve been hearing on the news lately seems to be based on the assumption that there will never be a vaccine for Covid-19 – or even an effective treatment for it – there’s actually been quite a bit of progress made towards both. For whatever reason, those stories don’t seem to be of much interest to the mainstream news media, though, so I’m glad Terry’s there to filter through the information, and tell me about what’s happening behind the scenes to try to bring this mess to an end. And, sure, the vaccine might still be a long way in the future, but that little glimmer of hope is pretty much the only thing keeping me going right now, so I’m clinging to it…
A lot of strange things have happened as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but – for me, at least – none are quite so strange as my newfound love of Facetime. Now, as many of you will know, I absolutely LOATHE talking on the phone, and, until now, have considered video calls to be the absolute WORST THING EVER.
Now, though? Now I straight-up LOVE them. Couldn’t live without them. Would 100% buy shares in the company, if I had a single penny to my name. And, no, this is not a late April Fool’s joke, just FYI.
Since the lockdown started, we’ve been Facetiming my parents every day (And, every single day, Max insists that they, a) Show him the bedroom they’ve set up for him in their home office, and, b) Let him “talk ” to the stuffed animals that live in it…), and we’ve also had video calls with a few friends, too. Some of these are people we wouldn’t necessarily talk to every week under normal circumstances, but I’ve found that this horrible situation has made people want to stay in touch more, and it’s been so good to be able to sit down over a glass of wine, and chat with them, just as we would if we were all in the same room.
As well as using Facetime as much as possible, I’ve also been keeping in touch with people via Whatsapp or other messenger services much more than I normally would, while Terry’s been making time for some online gaming with his friends. There’s obviously a lot to be said here about the fact that it’s taken a LITERAL PANDEMIC to get people to stay in touch more, but, for now, all I’ll do is echo what I said in this post : that, if this absolutely HAD to happen, I’m very grateful that it happened at a time when it’s easier to stay connected, because we’ve never needed it more.
WORKING ON PROJECTS
I know from bitter experience – and, well, counselling – that distraction is my number one weapon in the fight against anxiety. Unfortunately, however, distraction is pretty hard to come by right now: Max is at an age where he needs constant attention, for 12+ hours of every day – and while playing with him, feeding him, and otherwise looking after him might keep my body active, it gives my mind WAY too much time to wander.
Once he’s in bed for the night, though, I do have a little bit of time to myself, and that’s when those distraction techniques come in. Last night, for instance, I spent a couple of hours doing some blog-related work that didn’t involve writing about the pandemic, for once, and, while I was doing it, I almost felt like nothing had changed, and it was just an ordinary working day. Er, evening, rather.
Terry, meanwhile, has much less work to do (Unsurprisingly, not many people want to have a website designed during a pandemic…), but he’s been doing some work in the garden, and around the house, and, once he’s feeling 100% again, health-wise, he’s planning to film some more videos for Max’s You Tube channel . We both find it useful to have some kind of project to work on, to take our minds off things, and while we don’t have nearly as much time for those projects as we did before all of this went down, the small blocks of time we can carve out for them are still a good way to give our minds a bit of a break from reality. Planning for the future, meanwhile, is a useful way to remind ourselves that there will BE a future: we just don’t know WHEN.
BEING KIND TO OURSELVES
I can talk all I want about projects, and schedules, and FaceTime calls with friends, but the fact remains: this is still the worst situation many of us have ever had to live through, and sometimes I think you have to be able to acknowledge that, and accept that we’re all going to have to do whatever it takes to get through it, with no guilt allowed.
So, Max has had way too much screen time since lockdown started. He’s eaten more sweets than we’d generally allow – and the same could be said for me, too, if I’m totally honest. Terry and I, meanwhile, have taken a few nights off work to sit in front of Netflix and try not to think too much about what’s happening in the world. I’ve barely worn makeup – and some days, “getting dressed” has meant changing out of one pair of pyjamas and into another pair. I’ve titled this post, “Things That Are Helping Us Cope With Lockdown,” but honestly, we’re not always coping, really. Some days, we’re just surviving: and we’re doing it any way we can: which is sometimes all you CAN do.