I know, I know, it’s far from over. But I’ve struggled to achieve any content that feels relevant right now and this week, I’ve felt a slight shift in mood. I’m starting to potentially see ways in which we can live a new ‘normal’ and thought it was a good time to put down some of my feelings on lockdown with some new perspective, or at least ‘some’ perspective. Here are what I’ve learnt over the last 7 weeks. Or is it 8?
1. Patience is not one of my virtues.
I know the reason we’ve all been doing this and I will never underestimate how important it is and the jobs that key workers are doing throughout this pandemic. But I must be driving my husband crazy. Turns out, I am someone that needs answers to everything that can’t be given an answer to, I’m like an inquisitive 6 year old around the house. I was never someone at school who appreciated the answer ‘how long is a piece of string’ and ‘speculation’ now seems to be my new specialist subject.
2. I thought I was a home bird.
I love staying in, always have. Every new year we get a takeaway and watch a movie, even on holiday we cook and stay in a few times a week. But this situation has made me realise how much of the outside world I took for granted that added to my view of the world, heightened my inspiration. My walk to the tube, walking to a coffee shop with Peggy, walking past street art or posters for exhibitions. What has always inspired me for my site and my styling career has always been the outside world, not viewed through street style on Instagram, but real life people – sitting on the tube, browsing books in the local library, pouring drinks at a cafe, rushing past me at a busy London crossing. I miss those people I avoid eye contact with on the tube, being funnelled and pushed past on the busy Great Marlborough Street crossing off Oxford Street, queues to get into Franco Manca and the hoardes of people spilling out onto the street outside London pubs in the summer.
A reader just pointed out that I forgot to add point 3 and I think this probably sums up my state of mind.
4. I’m not a good stay-at-home mum.
How do those of you do it?! I am in awe, I am a walking zombie and have to have an hour lie down every night after putting our daughter to bed. And I am sharing duties with my husband! And a big fat salute to anyone having to keep up their day job whilst also caring and homeschooling kids at home. As much as I’m happy companies are seeing that working from home is possible, I am also worried that the government seems to think we’re all ‘coping’ and have found new ways to work around our kids. The lack of posts on this site recently will highlight that for me, this is definitely not the case and I am lucky enough not to have a boss and can work my own deadlines – we’re just about keeping afloat over here.
5. My default mode goes from proactive to lazy VERY quickly.
When I have the balance right (and by balance I mean – some sort of normality for me), I am a VERY proactive person. I start projects, DIY, tidy, clean, cook from scratch, plan meals, organise work events, remember birthdays and send cards, message friends and organise catch ups. Today, I have worn the same sweatpants 4 days in a row, washed my hair at some point last week and have been sleeping naked to save on washing loads. Inspiration left me when lockdown started and ‘self-pity Alex’ came into existence. I think I’m just about started to come out of it this week. But it’s important to remember this isn’t a ‘normal’ situation so there is no need to hold onto your ‘normal’ productivity levels – just getting through is enough right now.
6. I can really save when I put my mind to it.
Okay, a mortgage holiday and no childcare fees has helped but knowing our renovations are going to be back on again soon and paid work is in a state of, well, let’s say it’s not been a great year so far, we have really focused on what we spend our money on even more. A few treats to keep our morale up (mainly crafts for Peggy and angel delight for us) but our outgoings have massively decreased. I haven’t spent money on clothes (for myself, anyway) since January and you know what, I haven’t missed the thrill of buying. The thrill of having more money has eclipsed it – let’s just hope we can carry on when our direct debits are all back on!
7. I’m a bit of a dick.
We can all be, can’t we?! Tutting at people doing congas down the street, muttering “those teenagers all the same age can’t possibly all live together, can they?”. I find the media doesn’t help, publishing divisive articles and Twitter memes exploding on my feed. I find I’m better when I step away from my phone, take a deep breath and try to be empathetic. I sat down in the park the other day for 5 minutes whilst Peggy ran up and down a hill approx 365 times, I needed a rest. We are all trying our best. I loved Lauren Bravo’s article for Refinery 29 – ‘why is everyone being a bit of a d**k right now?’.
Just a few things I am going to do more of once we have the freedom to:
Hug my parents.
Support local businesses.
Never underestimate the power of a good coffee made by experts.
And of course it goes without saying the huge amount of respect for NHS workers, key workers, essential workers at this time. Thank you for posting our parcels, collecting our bins, keeping our public transport system open, keeping the shelves stocked, looking after my nan in a care home, helping my sister in hospital with COVID-19 (she is better now, thank you). Hoping you are all still staying safe (or should I say ‘alert’?) and getting through this tough time in the best way you can.
This is just spot on… well done for identifying all the weird and wonderful feelings/things going on and putting them into words that I haven’t been able to myself!
Wonderfully articulated thoughts as always Alex! Thank you for sharing, it really helps. I always knew, I am not patient and I also thought, I was a home bird :). There are good, better and worse days. Thank you Alex, your musings are always spot on and so comforting. XOXO, Mary
Loved this. Thanks as always for your perception and honesty. It’s a lot more refreshing and comforting than the endless streams of Insta influencers claiming to be managing this whole lockdown seamlessly. Keep it up x
‘I am also worried that the government seems to think we’re all ‘coping’ and have found new ways to work around our kids’. THIS.
I said exactly this to my husband this morning. I am currently on maternity leave with a 2yo and 6 month old. I am used to being home with the children, but not all day 24/7 without any company or any support. The weather is making things bearable at the moment but the thought of this continuing into the autumn terrifies me. X
Samantha Burns says
Number 5 is absolutely spot on.
Alex, you’ve nailed how we’re all feeling
Stay well x
Eloquent and spot on – just like your dress! It is reassuring to read about the hodge-podge of emotions, behaviours and insights so many of us are experiencing but little expressed. You’ve inspired me to finally get on and note my own down as a record for myself of these strange times.
Thank you so much for beautifully articulating how I feel. I wish you well. In the meantime I guess we just keep dreaming and hoping for that day when we can aimlessly wander around. I’m really looking forward to your kitchen reno updates too.
Spot on! I feel same. Thanks x
All rings so true! I am working my ‘9-5’ job from
Home with a 20 month old, and while I’m so grateful to be employed, and healthy I can’t help but think my employer ( a big global company) has no idea how hard it is to work in your house whilst parent in your house and try to give both some kind of focus. At one point the idea of nurseries remaining closed made me wonder if I should just quit my job ( which is madness in the current uncertain world) but I just can’t keep up.
Karen McGimpsey says
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Let’s not put too much pressure on ourselves and aim to come out of this a little more grateful for the company of others and the inspiration they bring to our day. I trained as a primary teacher but can’t teach my 12 year old as lose my patience. I am going to try again today! Take care.
great post. love the fact you missed number 3. working from home with kids is ridiculously challenging, something has to give (I feel lucky because my children are older, having a toddler or primary school child/children would break me for sure + this is with a very hands on husband). i keep thinking about ikea, never realised how much i counted on that store. we’re all doing our best, thanks again for sharing. stay well x
Echo everyone above, great piece.
‘Afloat’ the perfect word for how we are just about managing to keep everyone ok, hoon school just enough, work just enough, make it all ok rather than learn anything new, bake bread etc!
Well done Alex 👍
On point as ever, Alex! Thanks for putting into words what many of us are feeling. And well done for missing out point 3 and owning it – I’m trying to learn to relax on being ‘perfect’ and seeing people I admire being human and imperfect is the best inspiration. Let’s all give ourselves a break 🙂
You are the best Alex, you made me laugh 😂 . Today I woke up at 10:00 and I was feeling so bad for not being more active… but you know what?! A day is a day and tomorrow will be better! I will try to change this day too but lets try not to be so harsh in ourselves. One of the things that I’ve realized is that usually, when I’m in the “grumpy day mode” is bc I’m not happy with my performance, so I do some sport, crazy dance, listen to music or do something that will cheer me up and I add something productive too (clean, cook, work), then I feel so much better! Hugs from Florence, Italy!
Tricia M says
Good to hear from you again as I have missed your posts. In fact I was going to check you were all OK. Thank you so much for your honesty here. I recently tried to steam some beans without putting the beans in the top half and also tried to make coffee without the coffee in the machine. My mind was elsewhere is an understatement. Our world has shrunk but we are learning to appreciate the things which really matter. I heard a Palliative Care nurse on the radio yesterday who said he doesn’t like the term “new normal” but prefers “new temporary” which I liked a lot too. Let’s try to hang on to that together with hope. Good to read others ‘ posts today. Take care everyone.x
Julie Smith says
Thanks for sharing honestly how you are feeling. These are strange and crazy times. I enjoy the slower pace some days but like you miss the simple everyday outside life moments. I miss my family the most but also the coffee shop outings, looking at great buildings, people smiling and saying hi. The opportunities ahead, dreaming of our next trip or concert. I have to believe those moments will be back.
Susan McCabe says
So honest and so amusing! I like that you are aware of what you miss and why. I think we are all more aware of things we take for granted. Some days I am almost overwhelmed with gratitude and focus on what I have instead of what I haven’t, what I can do instead of what I can’t etc etc and thoroughly enjoy being resourceful and making the best of the situation. I found the ways you will change, save more etc very interesting. Change will be widespread. I know it’s said that people soon forget and go back to their old ways quickly but maybe not this time?
A Girl, A Style says
Oh Alex, I didn’t realise your sister had COVID, but I’m so relieved she is ok now!
Like you, my work productivity is in the gutter right now (I just can’t seem to muster up any inspiration or motivation to finish all the posts that I’ve started since lockdown, but which are currently sitting in my ‘drafts’). I vary between being a total bitch to myself for being so unproductive, and congratulating myself for the things I have been managing to do (cook lots of nice things, do some reading, organise, exercise at home, etc.) because right now that’s just about enough!
Thank you for the lovely reminder that just surviving and staying home is enough right now.
Sending so much love from Cambridge (and can’t wait to go for an expertly-made coffee and an aimless wander with you when this is all over!)
Great article Alex, always love your tone, realness and original thinking. Niamh (a long-standing reader in Ireland x)
Julia Smith says
Well said Alex, thank you for your honesty. I think we all need to know it’s OK to be a dick once in a while! My husband is currently beating himself up big time about not being as productive and motivated as usual and it’s really hard to help him come out of that mindset.
I can relate to so much of this – especially the patience part! Thanks for such an honest and comforting post Alex 🙂 Take care.
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First post I’ve read throughout lockdown which is 100% spot on. Number 4…I’m being a totally useless stay at home mum. Working full time at home whilst juggling homeschooling is a nightmare. Yes we are thankful we have our jobs, but I feel so guilty doing no baking or crafts etc etc. I also do miss getting someone else to make me a great latte!!!!
Love this – especially the ‘I’m a bit of a dick’ bit. Me too! Hope your sister is ok xxx
Thank you Alex, I’ve worked throughout in school and it’s easy to wish for the time those who have been stuck at home have had. The grass is always greener. But my things I’m looking forward to are pretty much the same as yours. Today you have made my day with the lovely news about your new addition (via your email, we’ve never met). It shows that within this dreadful time live and family still brings us a smile. Congratulations to you all xxxx
copper basin tap says
I like the way you describe it. So perfect!
Number 5 is a real thing and sooo relatable. It made me giggle so much because I too have worn the same shorts/ leggings days in a row.. oppps.
Thanks for sharing your frustrations and habits, I think we’re all feeling it x
Jessie from FashionablyFiltered.com