Tuesday 23rd March was the one year anniversary of the day our country went into the first full Lockdown of this pandemic. The day on which ‘life’ as we knew it ceased to exist and a new way of living took over… just for a few weeks, we all hoped and thought back then. More than a whole year of lockdowns and worldwide restrictions later however, and the ‘new’ way has now become the ‘normal’ way.
Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives… our NHS, and healthcare services throughout the world have been under pressure like never before… even if they haven’t contracted the virus, usually fit people have struggled with mental health and well-being… and the country’s floundering economy has suffered a further blow after barely beginning to recover from the recent Recession and Brexit.
For us all, life has been forever changed. Many of those whose lives have been directly touched by the virus still struggle with the after effects of such an intense illness, or will forever mourn loved ones lost… whilst the rest of us will be affected in other ways for years to come.
Even for those of us fortunate to have so far avoided the virus’ direct effects it’s become all too easy to focus on the negative points that have come out of the past year, to dwell on all the ‘bad’ things that have happened… on the family and friends we’ve missed meeting up with, or the milestone and annual events that didn’t happen. But it hasn’t all been bad. Amongst all the ever changing rules and restrictions on our lives I think it’s become even more important than ever to look back and remember the many good things that have come out of the last year- whether nationally, within our communities and families, or more personally.
For us as a family, the first Lockdown began much as it did for everyone else around the country, and probably the world over- normally used to spending at least some time apart every day, the entire household was suddenly expected to spend every moment of every day under the same roof. No going out to work, no going in to school or college, no end of year school exams, no church on Sundays, no shopping trips, no holidays, no… anything.
As a family who generally get on very well with each other, our immediate worry was- can we do this? What if our usually happy framework crumbles under the sudden pressures of the unusual situation, when there’s no school/ work routines to keep us rooted? What if we don’t normally have issues simply because we usually spend the main part of everyday doing our own thing in our own space? 😕
Curly was emotional and disappointed- seven years of studying in her dream school ended abruptly with barely any warning, with no A’ Level exams to sit at the end and no ‘last day’ celebrations.
Apple was emotional and upset- for the previous six months or so she’d only been living part time at home, spending weekends with her boyfriend who lives on the other side of the moors- suddenly they were forced to stay apart and she was stuck with us at home, and she worried that their relationship might not last as a result.
Little Blondie on the face of it took it all in her stride- she must have been confused though, however much she seemed to cope with suddenly having to do all her schooling online, and only see her friends ‘virtually’ in class Zoom sessions.
And after having only recently left home, Knitting Pixie and Games Boy were left to their own devices and ‘stranded’ more than I ever would have imagined they would be- with no potential visits to or from us to help them find their newly independent feet in the world.
Mike went from going out to work each day- dressed smartly and with an hour’s commute each way, to working fifteen paces across the landing in Games Boy’s old room, and with no strict dress code to adhere to (though I have to point out, he did actually at least get dressed each day before his working day began!)
And I just carried on the same as always- except that suddenly I was sharing my work space (the dining table) with Little Blondie and her school work which restricted my cutting out and sewing time, and I suddenly had a houseful of people to work the housework and washing around…
But we soon all got into new routines- of a kind…
With the weather as glorious as it was during April and May, and unable to visit the caravan or beach, we spent many hours together out in the garden. With exams cancelled, Curly had nothing to study for so could normally be found spread out and lost in a book. Little Blondie took what schoolwork she could outside with her, and even I found how easy it is to take a laptop into the garden to work on- provided of course that the screen is angled away from the sun! Mike and Apple also came out from time to time and it was nice just to spend some rare quality time relaxing together after ‘work’. ❤
Until then, to me our garden had only ever been a playground for the children to spend hours playing in, and somewhere to hang the washing to dry on a nice day- time out there doing ‘nothing’ was a rarity for me, and felt like time wasted.
Those long, lazy days of lockdown however taught me how to appreciate the outdoors of our house simply for the sake of enjoying it. Working, chatting or reading there was something very special about the time we spent out there last summer- an experience we’ll never have again. I’ve since found a love for spending time out there, whatever the weather- and since February I’ve spent most Saturdays out there, weeding and tidying up the many years of neglect, and untangling the plants and shrubs that have grown wild and unappreciated until now.
As soon as last summer’s restrictions lifted enough to allow it, Apple took off to be re-united with her boyfriend and, excess travel still being discouraged, made the decision to ‘semi’ move in to his flat with him and his mum. By telling herself that the move wasn’t permanent, she took the pressure off the situation- which actually allowed her to settle easier and quicker into what has now become her new life. 🙂
Knitting Pixie, having just set up home by herself and met her new boyfriend only a couple of months before the virus struck, has also seen major changes in her life over this past year. With lockdown imminent she made the uncharacteristically impulsive decision to move her boyfriend in- under normal circumstances something I may have worried about, however I was saved from this by the simple relief of knowing that she wasn’t going to be stuck on her own and lonely. Now, one year on, she and her boyfriend are engaged and their first baby is due later in the year! 🙂
And with Zoom calls and virtual meet ups becoming a normal way of life, we’ve had more interaction and communication with the wider family from around the country (the world even, if you include our son in Canada!) over the last year than we usually do, which has been nice. I’ll never feel properly comfortable with the Zoom calls (a smallish drink beforehand works wonders for relaxing into it!), but in addition to our somewhat irregular chats and calls the monthly family Zoom call and quiz has been beneficial all round.
Work wise… a year that has seen shops, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, theatres etc. shut for many months at a time and struggling to survive, has actually been something of a blessing in disguise for a little business like mine- already fully set up online and with orders sent out through the post anyway, though there have been times when I’ve felt at once both incredibly lucky and incredibly guilty!
When the pandemic struck and Lockdown was announced, I had been on the point of changing my website over to a new hosting company- I’d been increasingly unhappy with how it was performing on Google and the other search engines and, having changed nothing major on there in recent months I’d come to the conclusion that changing to a new company may be the solution needed. For that first couple of months though all I felt was despair- what was the point now of trying something new when the whole world felt like it was falling apart, never mind the fact that I just felt so emotionally exhausted I simply couldn’t be bothered to make the effort anymore…
Then one sunny day I suddenly felt more motivated- there had been a lot of talk in the press about shops transferring their businesses online and how it was helping some of them to survive. I thought- if shops used to face to face contact can survive this, then I’m quite sure a little online business like Little Dolly Clothes Shop can! I finished making my half-worked new website, went live with it- and received the first order for several weeks only a couple of days later. 😀
My little business has since gone from strength to strength- whether it was entirely down to the new website, or people’s new buying habits and wanting to send treats to little people in their families during the pandemic, or a mixture of both, I don’t know. But I do know that since changing over, I have had the best sales over the last twelve months that I’ve had for several years! And have a much easier website to work with, and an admin host support team who are always ready to help!
The Lockdown anniversary became a National Day of Remembrance- with a one minute silence and services of prayer and reflection around the country, as was the right thing to do. I hope we never forget to reflect on this bizarre time- one day in years to come, when this is all finally over and normal ‘normal’ life returns, I hope we still pause to remember, much like we do each November to commemorate the lives lost to war. And remember to never take ‘normal’ for granted ever again. ❤