Posted in lifestyle, lockdown

Enduring lockdown: a guest post from my 8 year old niece

The UK has been in lockdown for a while now, forcing everyone who can stay home to do so. I asked some of my family and friends to write guest posts for my blog sharing how the government enforcement has affected them personally. You can read about my life here, my mum’s experiences here, my husband who is an office worker now working from home here and my university student friend’s point of view here. The next in the series is from my eight year old niece who has written down how the situation has affected her. It’s taken her a while to do this little job for me as she’s really not in work mode right now and writing is such a chore!

Boris Johnson announced that schools were going to be forced to close from Friday 28th March to all pupils except those from families of key workers and vulnerable children. This has meant that most school aged children are now being kept at home, many being looked after by parents who are working from home too. As far as I’m aware, a lot of mums and dads are attempting to home educate their kids as they’re worried about them missing out but I imagine it can’t be easy for them. My brother says that the school is providing activities but these are just to consolidate what has already been taught as you can’t expect parents to teach their children new things.

How my life has changed

Hi everyone, my name is Lexi and I’m 8 years old. I’m Auntie Laura’s niece and my daddy is her brother. The coronavirus has stopped me from going to school and seeing my friends. I can’t go to the park or swimming or do any fun stuff. It’s hard to stay inside because I don’t have that much stuff to do. I miss all of my family and when the coronavirus has gone I want to go out to a park or somewhere with my family and friends.

Keep safe,

Love Lexi

And just in case you want to see how lovely her writing is and what a great speller she is, here’s the paper copy:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts Lexi. Hopefully lockdown will be over soon and your Auntie Laura and Uncle Michael can come for a visit and go out somewhere nice with you.

Posted in Blogging, productivity, wellbeing, wellness

Keeping my distance: Life during lockdown for an office worker

This morning I received an email from my husband with his contribution to my how life has changed during the pandemic series of guest posts. He is only upstairs, but as he’s working on his computer, he decided to quickly attach his MS Word document and forward it to me rather than asking me to read it on his screen. So without further ado, here’s his summary on things.

Since March 23rd, when Boris Johnson made his announcement about social distancing, we have been spending much more time at home. My wife, Laura asked me to document some of the things that have changed for me personally, so here goes.

The good aspects of the lockdown

I work as a materials planner for factory and my place of work is a 30 mile commute from home. This means I am usually out of the house for 10 hours each week day, leaving at 6.30am and returning home by 5pm. Since I am now working from home, I get to spend more time with Laura. I’m also saving lots of money on fuel as I buy approximately £35.00 worth of diesel each week.

I am spending most of my day working in Laura’s ‘craft room’ (although I do manage on my laptop for the first half hour, sat at the dining table downstairs so I don’t wake my wife up tapping away on the keys!). When Laura gets up (usually around 7.30 – 8am, I’m able to take my things upstairs and spread out on her large desk, making use of the very comfortable office chair and connecting my laptop and keyboard to a large monitor, kindly loaned by work so I can actually see what I am doing on the various emails and spreadsheets! We are lucky as, with the nature of our business, we still have plenty of orders and with the factory operating with less staff we are probably busier than usual, especially as we have issues with getting hold of the materials from different sources as our suppliers are self isolating too.

Although Laura and I have the chance to converse more during the day, our company is still really busy with production and I am always typing away, making calls and having meetings. The only time I really see Laura, when I’m hard at work, is when she brings me coffee (and sometimes a biscuit or two!).

When I was at the office, I used to mainly spend my lunchbreak still sat at my computer but now I’m able to stretch my legs and enjoy my lunch at the dining table so my wife and I can spend quality time together, something we would never be able to do usually. I can also have a pop out into the garden and check out all of our various plants and see what needs to be done out there in terms of weeding, mowing the grass, digging etc. At weekends, there are of course all those little jobs in the house or garden to finally tick off as we are spending much more time at home.

The not so good aspects of the lockdown

When I first started working from home, I only had my laptop and keyboard and could barely see what I was doing. The company decided to arrange for us to have a monitor to use at home as ours are affixed to our desks in the office but I had to wait a while for this to be arranged and ended up having neckache each day and everything seemed to take twice as long to do. I’m getting used to the new way of working now but tasks still take a little longer as you can’t just pop over to a colleague’s desk to check something with them like I would usually do.

Laura and I used to enjoy getting out at weekends. These days we can’t really go out, except to the supermarket, which is now a stressful experience, queuing outside, trying to keep your distance from other customers. Trying not to touch my face whilst in the shop, or feeling like I’m nagging Laura to do the same. Some essentials, such as bread or vegetables are often sold out, so you have to go to ANOTHER shop even though we have been advised to only go to one place! When we return from the supermarket, there’s all the hand washing to be done, which has been making my already cracked and sore hands much worse.

Lots of other things have changed besides, too numerous to mention, or even worth thinking about without being overwhelmed. The situation is ever changing, but for the right reasons and will help us come out of this faster with less lives lost. Stay kind, stay safe.

Michael

Thanks to my wonderful husband for sharing his experiences. I am sure others who work in an office have had similar issues with setting up their space at home, although many of you probably have less to do or have to complete tasks a little differently. Also, now I know how much money we save in fuel costs, I’m thinking of all of the things I could buy with that £35.00 each week!

Posted in Blogging, wellbeing, wellness

Self isolation from the point of view of a retired person: A guest post from my mum

A brief introduction

Hi everyone, my mum has risen to the challenge of creating a guest post about the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on her life and so I’d like to present her words to you below. It’s probably the first time ever that I’ve seen her write at length on a subject as we usually keep in touch via phone and WhatsApp message where we try to keep our writing to a minimum character length! So, without further ado, I’ll hand over this post to its main author:

Hello, I’m Laura’s mum , Julie, and I’ve been asked if I would like to jot down the good bits and the bad bits about self isolation from the view of an older person (I suspect she might be trying to keep me busy lol!). Well here goes…

I’m not quite 70 but close enough and my husband (Laura’s dad) is getting on for 80 so we are treating this as both of us being ‘vulnerable’ although I can still shop whilst he stays in the car. I’ve tried to come up with positives first, but there are fewer of those.

The positives of staying at home…

Firstly, I like gardening and having more time and the weather not being too bad, though chilly at times, I’ve warmed up digging over the patches where my husband sets his runner beans when the weather warms up. I’ve also been hoeing between my plants. Since our soil is solid clay and had flooded several times, it is now drying out to concrete! – so I’m getting fresh air and a good work out.  

Secondly, my husband has had a spell of physical problems involving lots of pain in various parts of his body, which the doctor says is related to gout and arthritis. However, he has begun taking medication for his difficulties, and now he has picked up, he is able to do some of the jobs that have had to be put on hold. It’s a pity though that the DIY shops are no longer available to us for garden supplies.  

Thirdly, and probably the best of all, people have been so kind. We have had offers of help from our son’s girlfriend who works at the hospital and has been a bit down herself. Also, Laura’s friend from childhood, who works in intensive care at the hospital has offered help and so has the woman who has recently moved into the house across the road. Our son would do our shopping, but quite honestly, whilst I can, I would much sooner do it myself and of course Laura lives a long way away in Sunderland whilst we’re in the Midlands.  

Finally, on the positive side of the situation, I’ve got more time for hobbies such as jigsaws, crosswords and reading which I always enjoy.

The negative aspects of social isolation and distancing 

Now onto the downsides…

Before this all started, we used to go out on bus trips with lunch in Wetherspoons twice per week. Well that is out for now and I miss it. We started off driving a little way to quiet spots for a picnic in the car and a walk but now, the Government have said they don’t want people driving to places for exercise so we stopped doing that. Walking locally gets a bit tedious after a while, but never mind!  

Next, whereas I used to shop 4 or 5 times per week, I’m trying to just shop once per week which isn’t easy because our favourite supermarket doesn’t stock absolutely everything I need to buy. On the plus side, I can do my own shopping, unlike my auntie and uncle who are totally isolated due to my auntie’s serious health issues and have not yet been able to get a delivery spot. Hopefully they will soon. In the meantime my brother and sister-in-law, who also have health issues and want to isolate but can’t get a food delivery are helping my auntie out (back to kind people again!).  

Another problem is that we are running out of jigsaws to do. My brother has some but he can’t bring them to me because he is in isolation too and the charity shops where we usually get them are closed but that is just a small problem. These are just practical issues.

The worse thing about having to isolate is that Laura and her husband will not be able to come down at Easter, which they always do. Also I can’t go round to ours son’s on a Saturday to spend the day with him and our granddaughter Lexi, or see them on a Wednesday for tea which is our usual routine. However, on a positive note, although we   don’t do social media, and it takes me all my time to send an email, I am able to keep in touch with Laura, our son and granddaughter and the rest of my family by text and the odd phone call. I got a very noisy, but very welcome phone call from our granddaughter, aged 8, last weekend which cheered me up no end! Also, my husband and I have each other to talk to and it would be much worse to live on my own in the middle of nowhere like some people have to contend with. That’s it. Take care everyone and keep well.

Julie (Laura’s mum)

I hope you have enjoyed hearing from my mum and it has made you think about the effect of social isolation on the older generation. It’s also nice for me to know that my mum is being thought of by members of her local community, especially with me being too far away to offer practical help. After being initially really upset by the turn of events, I can see she is beginning to adapt relatively well to the situation and is still able to make the most of life and see some positives.

So, all that remains for me to say is, thanks mum for providing your input, and I hope to see you, my dad, brother and niece for some face-to-face contact, days out and games evenings sooner rather than later! It might not be at Easter, but hopefully it’ll be some time in the summer before Lexi and I have our shared birthday.

Posted in mental health, productivity, wellbeing, wellness

How is my day-to-day life different now the U.K. is currently in lockdown?

Whilst in the shower this afternoon, I had an idea for some new blog posts which will help to document life during lockdown in response to COVID-19. I want to record how life is currently different from the perspective of different people in my life as everyone’s experience is unique and some individuals are coping with the situation much better than others. So, for this series of posts, I’m going to record how things are for me right now and then ask some of my family and friends how the lockdown has changed things for them and how they feel about it. I haven’t asked them yet, but I’m thinking of featuring guest posts from my husband, my mum, my eight year old niece, a friend who is at uni (or rather not at uni right now!) and one of my teacher friends who is mainly working from home).

I hope this idea appeals to you as much as it does to me and more importantly, fingers crossed the aforementioned family and friends are up for a bit of writing. I’ll start with me and hopefully everyone else will oblige me!

How have my week days changed?

As I run my own online business on Etsy (and this blog), I’m used to mainly being at home during the day, but also popping out to different places such as the post office, the shops and to my different classes at my local college and my yoga sessions at a wellbeing centre in the city centre. So, during the week, I’m usually mainly on my own between the hours of 8am – 5pm but do make sure I have some face to face interaction with others each day such as chatting to someone I see regularly in the park, catching up with the ladies who work in the shop which contains a post office where I hand in my shop orders, or talking to fellow students at my classes.

Now, I’m no longer home alone during the day, as my husband, Michael is working from home. I’ve lost my desk in my craft room as he needs to use it and I have to work either on the dining room table, or in the living room on the sofa with my laptop on my laptop tray. It’s nice to have him at home as I enjoy the company at lunchtime but most of the day, he’s hard at work on his laptop and I try to do things super quietly downstairs to avoid disturbing him.

As my classes at college, my access to the college gym and my yoga classes are all cancelled, I’m making sure I do at workout at home and go for a daily walk. I usually drive to a local park but we’ve been advised to avoid using our cars to go out for exercise, so I’m now walking around the block with my iPod playing some of my favourite tunes. I used to find my daily walk really relaxing and a great chance to get in touch with nature, but now, my walks are more stressful as I’m always on the look out for people coming towards me on the pavement so we can try to keep the recommended two metres distance. I’m also trying to interact with a range of people online in my Facebook groups and other online communities that I belong to. There’s lots of talk about how the virus is impacting on our lives but I try to avoid too many of these discussions as some of them can be quite negative and I’d rather focus on the positives of the situation.

Another of my social outlets which I’m really missing is my weekly choir session. As I’ve mentioned before, singing is really great for your wellbeing, but as well as this, I also miss the chance to interact with others which these times brought. I did sign up for Gareth Malone’s online choir but unfortunately the rehearsals are at 5.30pm when I’m usually making dinner for my husband and I.

How have my weekends changed?

My husband and I used to arrange at least one day out over the weekend which invariably included a picnic (sometimes in the car!) or a meal out, plus a trip to a different town (either for sightseeing or shopping), the seaside or a local nature spot. Now, we no longer do this and as the lockdown becomes stricter to ensure public safety, we are tending to stay at home almost all day. This has meant lots of time for DIY projects, gardening and housework. In the beginning we were going out for a walk somewhere different but now, as I mentioned before, we’ve been advised not to use our cars for leisure activities as popular tourist spots were getting too crowded and individuals were unable to maintain the safe distance.

What’s one of the worst things about the current lockdown?

I think one of the worst bits for me is the lack of real life social contact and interaction with others. Even when I was depressed and anxious, I still tried to make sure I spent time each day with other people. Luckily, I’ve come out of my bad patch and my mental health is much better. I’m just grateful that I am no longer struggling day-to-day as I think I would be finding this situation we find ourselves in a lot harder if I was like I have been for the last 5 months or so.

What have you found to be one of the positive things about the lockdown?

I’m loving seeing and hearing about how people are going out of their way to help and support others during this difficult time. It was so heart-warming when we and so many of our neighbours took to our door steps and front gardens to clap for the NHS and to show our thanks for their hard work. Also, lots of children in my local area have made beautiful rainbow pictures and displayed them in their windows with messages thanking NHS staff or reminding people to stay safe.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my life during lockdown. All that remains for me to say is – stay safe, keep washing your hands, remain at home as much as you can and try to find little things to celebrate about the situation, even if there are lots of sad, worrying and negative aspects.