Here in Sydney, we’re in week 5 (or is it 6?) of lockdown with no end in sight. The novelty has well and truly worn off. It wasn’t so bad in the beginning – ‘lockdown light’ felt like it was going to pass quickly, probably just a few weeks. And it was school holidays, so to be honest, it felt like a nice excuse to hibernate and wait it out.
But all these weeks later, with case numbers growing by the day, it feels like a whole different story. We don’t know when home schooling will end, lockdown has become much stricter and more urgent and the numbers don’t really show much improvement. It’s bloody depressing.
When you ask people how they’re going (on zoom of course), everyone just shrugs and says ‘ok, I guess.’ We’re all in a state of depression (some more severe than others). We’ve done this before and this feels so much harder. Unlike last lockdown when staying home seemed to help quickly, it’s dawning on us that this isn’t going away soon.
I’ve been thinking about some things that have helped me get through the last few days, weeks, months *sigh*. Here is what is helping so far:
1. I’m trying not to take too much on
I’m lucky that I have a collection of regular clients. Some of them I’ve been working with for years. This is the kind of copywriter I am, I love to form relationships with clients and help them either regularly or on a semi-regular basis. I’m getting stuck into work for my regular clients but other than that, I’m not hustling for other work. If something passes by my desk that sounds amazing, well sure sign me up. But I’m not going out there looking for work.
Truth is, I’m doing the bulk of home schooling and caring at home (although I have help a few days a week, I’m no superwoman!). But I certainly don’t have the hours in the day that I used to have. I’m very lucky that I work for myself, so I have the freedom to reduce my workload to take the pressure off. When you work for an employer, you rarely have that luxury.
Parental and lockdown burnout is an enormous problem. I think the only way of surviving lockdown is for us all to realise that we can’t give everything. Like Simone Biles showed us these Olympics, sometimes we just shouldn’t keep pushing. Particularly when our mental health is in jeopardy.
2. I’m reserving early mornings for deep work
What is it about kids, when you’re knee deep in building a perfect paragraph or tag line, they always decide that is the moment they need some afternoon tea/bum wiping/help to get down from the top bunk bed. Working solidly with kids anywhere around is pretty much impossible.
Which is why I’ve come up with the only solution that seems practical when you need to survive lockdown. When I have deep work to do, I’m getting up early to do it. I don’t do it every day, but it certainly takes the pressure off to have an hour or two to just think and write before everyone else gets up in the morning.
3. I’m getting vaccinated
I’ve spent the past few weeks feeling pretty angry about this whole vaccination situation. As a person who is under 40 (just), we were told for months that the AstraZeneca isn’t safe for us, but we have had no alternative to get another vaccine. I’ve heard about many people who have lied and said they’re eligible when they’re not. “They don’t even check when you get to the vaccination hub,” they say. But I’m one of those honest to a fault people, I just can’t like about things like that.
Now that the crisis has worsened in Sydney, the risk profile has changed and we are being told to get AstraZeneca. So, after reading as much data as I can, I’ve booked in my appointment for this week. Knowing I will have some protection against this Delta variant makes me feel much less anxious about the months ahead.
“It’s not a race” Scott Morrison said. Um, when your life is at stake, it kinda is. Surviving lockdown is a literal and figurative goal.
4. I’m getting outside as much as I can
I’m fortunate to live in an area of Sydney with beautiful bushland and I’m certainly taking advantage of it. I’m trying to immerse myself in nature as much as possible.
My personal trainer is also offering covid safe trainings where he sends our workouts to our phone. I’m out there each week on the oval doing my sit-ups and my weights. Staying fit and supporting a small business, that’s a win win.
5. Some of us are learning new skills (just not me)
I remember in last lockdown, there was a pressure to use that time to learn new skills like sourdough bread and knitting. I’ve got to say as a parent of three, I’ve never had less time in my life. Learning new skills? Yeah, that ain’t going to happen.
But my kids have lots of time, and fortunately they’re learning new things. My 4-year-old learnt to ride a bike with no training wheels last week and my 7-year-old has worked out the gears on her bike. These are the life milestones that they will hopefully remember about this time and not the hours of boredom and not being able to see their friends and family for months on end.
6. I’m accepting it’s a roller coaster
Last week was a good week. We got through home schooling each day with minimal arguments. I finished a few ongoing projects that were weighing me down. The sun was shining. I was ignoring the daily figures from Gladys.
The week before wasn’t so good. It rained, which always makes things hard. I felt like I was drowning in work and each day I’d start 6 different things and finish nothing.
I understand there will be good and bad days. Sometimes there won’t be a reason. Sometimes we will all just be grumpy and that’s ok. And it’s also ok to put Bluey and call it a day.
7. I’m trying to find things to look forward to
It’s all about having hope and things to look forward to. Whether it’s getting more takeaway than usual, watching and dressing up for the Olympics (see my main photo) or having zooms with family and friends, they all help with the monotony of the week. One thing that has been awesome is weekly Friday night quiz nights with friends over zoom. It’s such a fun way to connect with a group of people and feel you have somewhere to go (even if it’s just the couch).