In the past few weeks, life as we know it has changed irreparably and
we are all now hankering after something more ‘normal’. Domestic abuse rates have
increased, people have lost their jobs and businesses. Mental health is
suffering. Children across the country are going without meals because schools
are closed and free school meals are delayed. Education is being undertaken at
home for all children with parents who are desperately trying to work at the
same time. Teenagers who had stressed about taking their exams, and who had
been revising for months have had the rug pulled from under them with no notice.
Entertainment is closed. Television has changed dramatically, with guests being
interviewed via video link and we are no longer able to see our family or
friends, confined to leaving our homes only for the necessities and leaving a 2
metre gap between us and any other human. The world has all but stopped.
Desperately sadly, thousands of people have lost their lives due to Covid-19 or complications from the virus. People have lost their loved ones, and can’t mourn them as we ordinarily would. Funerals are limited to immediate family only, who cannot hug each other their consolations, weddings and other ceremonies postponed until we can press the un-pause button and return to normality. Birthday’s, and indeed birth’s, cannot be celebrated and children born at this time will undoubtedly be referred to as ‘lockdown’ babies. (We can also expect a spike in the birth rate in early 2021 who will most likely be nicknamed the 21st Century baby-boomer’s).
So, when we finally press the re-set button on life, there are some things we must keep in mind.
Human contact is pretty essential to other human’s. Most people need it to some extent in order to function. We have a physical desire to be around other human’s.
We no longer need chaining to our desks by employers who need ‘presenteeism’ to prove our worth. We’ve proved we can effectively work from home, care for our children, and be decent employees. Those meetings that it was insisted upon we attend in person, really could have been done over video call to no detriment whatsoever.
We can work flexibly and the 9-5 is not the be all and end all to working life. Taking a lunch break, getting outside into the fresh air, and not commuting 4 hours a day is good for productivity and mental health – it makes us better at our jobs, not worse.
We pollute our world too much. We can live without taking that short car journey to grab our necessities. We can walk to the local shop and enjoy it. We can do without buying that new thing we want (but don’t actually need). We can revel in the clearer waters, bluer skies and fresher air. Whilst we are in lockdown, Mother Nature is doing an incredible job at healing herself. We cannot ruin the good work she is doing while we take a break from life.
We are thrifty. We can make more from what we have at home than we ever imagined. We are collectively making scrubs, scrub bags, scrub hats and face masks for healthcare workers. We are stitching, crafting, giving – we are mending and making-do.
Schooling and Education, however you choose to do it, is important, but it is no replacement for happy, healthy, well balanced children. When this first happened parent’s across the land panicked about home-schooling. How would we keep up with what they learn in school? How can we do their teacher’s job? The answer is, and it’s taken only a few short weeks to realise, we can’t – on either count. Even those parent’s who are teachers by profession are finding that it’s different to school their own children and kids across the world are learning life skills that we never before had the time to teach them – cooking, sewing, crafting. We are letting them learn through play, talking more, reading books we haven’t read since they were tiny. We are watching that film we never got around to seeing before, we are dancing the days away together. We are no longer concerning ourselves that screen time is damaging, but are using it to educate, to calm and to assist with childcare without guilt.
We are profoundly grateful to those who remain at work for our ‘necessities’. To the health and social care workers, to the delivery and post people, to the retail and warehouse staff, to the refuse and waste workers, to the teachers and childcare workers. To all the people who have no choice but to be at work, we are clapping for them, leaving ‘rainbow’ signs of thanks for them, we are recognising their huge gift to humanity. We can never again take them for granted.
We have learned, all too harshly, that some of the people that took up so much of our time and souls before this, were not worthy of that time. We are re-evaluating who we will spend our precious time with, who will receive our attention and who deserves our support and love in future. We have, most importantly, learned to forgive ourselves for our own shortcomings.
We have learned that Mental Health is not a dirty word, and that isolation, stress, depression and anxiety are very real things. We’ve volunteered to make calls to those who are lonely and collect food and medicines for those who are vulnerable. We have recognised the need in other’s that is greater than ourselves and we have given our time and resources to help those less fortunate.
We have realised just how precious life is. How precious health is. How much we take for granted. How much we don’t fully appreciate the natural world. The impact our behaviours have on those close to us, those far away from us, the world around us and most of all, on ourselves.
We have finally been forced to take stock. We have been handed the gift of time on a platter. We have been productive and unproductive. We have re-evaluated what means the most in our lives. We have gained a deeper understanding into our own families, friendships, our life dynamics. We have realised that for so many year’s we have taken so much of the world for granted and now we’ve realised that we must never return to that place.