Mom Working from Home with Baby

Dealing With The ‘New Normal’ Living in Lockdown

Many people are now living in a state of lockdown, with children off school, non-essential business closed and many people off work for an indefinite period of time. As the pandemic continues to evolve, what is clear is that to survive this crisis mentally, a complete shift in mindset is needed.

Living in lockdown is a very strange situation for most people and it can take some time to get used to. It is very different choosing to work from home, as these days can often feel enjoyable and motivation can be high, with people thinking ‘yeh, I could get used to this!’ I actually had a work from home day the week before lockdown began and remember feeling the delight at being able to work from my sofa with the telly on in the background and none of the distractions that come with office life. It felt like a treat.

But that was then and boy, have things changed since then! It is funny how when that choice is taken away from you, the feelings experienced in exactly the same situation are completely different. Following Boris Johnson’s lockdown announcement in March 2020, suddenly, the office I worked from daily was shut until further notice and all work from that point onwards would resume from home until further notice. Although this was a very strange situation to find myself in, this initial transition was made palatable by the fact that my children were still at school. I was still able to focus on my work during set hours at home without any distraction (ok, perhap I did get sucked into the odd TV program once or twice) and although the ‘novelty’ of having a work from home day had dwindled, I was still able to be relatively productive given the circumstances.

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Fast forward a couple of weeks and all UK schools were then closed until further notice, along with non-essential businesses. Suddenly, those working from home with children also needed to try and follow their school learning program, keep them entertained and remain highly focused on work. All of this while ensuring the cupboards remain sufficiently stocked and the house resembles some sort of order and cleanliness. With social media blaring out images of the ‘perfect’ household full of baking, yoga and other wonderous activities from the so-called ‘Wonder-mums of Instagram’, the bar was set unattainably high.

If you haven’t worked this out already then this is a recipe for disaster. It is simply not possible to continue ‘business as usual’, become a full time school teacher and keep all those other domestic balls up in the air. And with no end date in sight, you can’t even plan ahead to know how long this is all going to last for. And I couldn’t even have a Costa to make me feel better. Nightmare.

What is clear is that this is our ‘new normal’. Although a temporary situation, this is not going to be over within the next few weeks. We are looking at several months of disruption, along with a period of recovery which could take even longer. This realisation has led to many memes online about writing off 2020 and looking forward to 2021.

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In the meantime, life goes on. If you are lucky enough to have retained your job and can work from home then deadlines will continue to come in, alongside the educational requirements for the children and all of your other responsibilities. It is going to go on for too long to simply just ‘wing it’, you’re going to need a plan.

Accepting the current situation is likely to be this way for a good few months now (let’s put a pin in June shall we) is key to moving forward with this new normal. Understanding that there is going to need to be some compromise in all areas of your life is the next step. You’re not going to be able to complete that assignment whilst also helping a 4 year old with their english work and a 12 year old with their ridiculous science project. You are going to continually feel like you are being pulled from pillar to post and failing at everything if you keep trying to do things as you did before the coronavirus had even arrived on your home soil.

You’re going to need to work less hours, or at least spread them across your day differently. The kids will not get through all of the work they’ve been set, you probably won’t get to do all of the exercise you intended to do with the kids. You’re probably going to eat more too and maybe even drink more than you normally would. Don’t beat yourself up about it. These are crazy times and the most important thing is that you maintain your mental and physical health and that your family feel safe and secure. The rest really can just wait.