Why I’m struggling to write during Lockdown 2020

Why I’m struggling to write during Lockdown 2020
Woman working on a laptop in a busy home, much like me during Lockdown
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

 Who could have imagined life in Lockdown?

Last year, in early 2019, I quit my office job and jumped out of the usual way of working in our culture.

I did this so I can spend more time at home becoming more self sufficient, and blogging about my experiences. This change of lifestyle has made me:

  • Manage my own time more effectively – I realised early on that I need a schedule, or the day would slip away,
  • Spend more time with my family, as my children no longer go to after school care or holiday programme,
  • Make sure I create enough social interactions – being an extrovert, I need to spend time with people,
  • Become more careful and mindful about spending money, as I am not bringing in as much money as I used to.

So when our Government announced that New Zealand was going into a pretty strict lockdown, to combat the spread of Covid-19, I thought

I’ll be ok with that, I’m used to working at home now

Pippa, before Lockdown

Lockdown is not just ‘working from home’

Newsflash – lockdown life is not like my previous ‘working from home’ life.

The first weeks were filled with anxiety about what is happening around the world and in my own country, which was fueled by checking the news too often. I realised I had to stop obsessively reading news online. So I settled for checking the news first thing in the morning and listening to the daily 1pm updates from our calm and composed Director of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield (he is a national treasure now).

Many other factors added to the anxiety, including a lack of social interaction, concerns around food supply at home (which were unfounded – we have enough food in stock), and the uncertainty about what is going to happen with this global health crisis.

I thought I might be able to spend time writing for this blog, with all the enforced home time. But Lockdown is busier than ever, as I juggle:

  • Looking after the children while they were off school at the beginning of lockdown, and keeping them busy while my husband works (he has been doing his usual 40 hour week for a Electricity company, just from home).
  • Feeding the family – cooking and baking have taken on a greater importance right now! It may be the ‘treat’ factor, as a little pick-me-up, or that we have more time to spend on creating in the kitchen. But definitely spending more time making food, and tidying up after making food. Luckily my husband is a great cook too, so this job is shared equally.
  • Making sure I exercise everyday to keep myself feeling mentally well, as well as physically well. This often involves bribing my children to come for a walk, or bribing them with screen time so I can do an exercise class online or via a DVD.
  • Gardening – autumn is a busy time on a lifestyle block. There are fruit and vegetables to harvest, the summer vege plants to pull up and compost, winter seedlings to plant, and there’s always plenty of weeding and pruning.
  • Related to gardening, there are the autumn fruit and veges to process and preserve. I have chopped apples and capsicums for the freezer, bottled tomatoes and apples, and made a ‘lot’ of chutney. There are still walnuts to collect and crack, and more apples to pick, plus persimmon and quince are ripe too.

Add to this all the usual household chores and home improvement ideas. Plus now, I’m overseeing home schooling the kids.

Working at home plus managing the family

To be honest with you, I am taking a ‘home-school lite’ approach.

The children are doing some formal learning through various websites and apps, but I also let them spend time playing, reading, drawing and colouring, and some gaming too.

A favourite Xbox game here is ‘Stardew Valley’, which I tease them about, as it is basically a virtual lifestyle block! They could get outside and do this game for real in the garden. But I’m not going to stress that they are gaming, it does give me a chance to get other things done.

I am struggling to write anything much recently, as it’s hard to find the time and head space to focus on my ideas. But, this has always been an issue for me during school holidays anyway, as the children are my main focus. Now the children have a little more formal learning time, I plan to write more regularly, as I know it gives me a sense of achievement and connection.

I feel for all the people in families where parents/carers are trying to work from home, whilst managing a houseful of young people. And for people who have to go outside their ‘bubble’ to work in essential roles, leaving children with other family members or friends. It must be incredibly hard to juggle all their commitments.

Emotional Stages of Lockdown

I am pleased that the New Zealand government decided to enforce a strict lockdown, and I thoroughly support this move. In fact, if we go to a lower level of restriction, I am prepared to stay in my ‘bubble’ with my family for a while longer, if it helps our country overcome this pandemic.

However, even though I agree with the reasons for the Lockdown, I have experienced very strong feelings during this time. And I expect many other people have also found it hard, or lonely, or frustrating. Each week so far has had some distinct features:

  • Week 1 – Anxiety, but also kind of enjoying the ‘novelty’ of the situation. Planning to do lots of activities with the kids,and lots of jobs around the house.
  • Week 2 – Feeling annoyed and raging somewhat about being locked down and unable to go anywhere. But also feeling glad we are doing this as a nation.
  • Week 3 – Accepting that this is how it is right now, and getting on with the new routine. Feeling incredibly lucky to live in NZ.
  • Week 4 – Cabin fever is setting in. But also getting used to living under Lockdown.

Coping with life in Lockdown

I have also noticed three ‘themes’ or ideas that are helping me cope during this time:

  1. Some days are harder than others, some days are easier. At the end of a hard day, I remind myself that ‘Tomorrow is a fresh day’
  2. Reduce my expectations of everyone a little – I can be a bit tough on other people sometimes. I am trying to cut everyone a bit of slack – my husband and kids, my family and friends, even strangers on social media! And reduce my expectations on myself that I will do as much writing as I usually can. Everyone is handling this differently, so I need to be kind, to myself and others.
  3. It helps to have some fun and silliness. This is a serious time, with so much tragedy around the world. But it’s ok to play, watch funny movies, listen to fun music and dance around the house. Lifting your spirits can help you get through this tough time.

I realise I am very priviliged to have the lifestyle I have…

As I write this post, I know I have a lot of privilege in my life. I wrote a post about this sense of privilege last year, as I am very aware that other people may not have the same opportunities and choices that I do.

I do not take my lifestyle for granted, and this is not a ‘poor me’ post. I only want to acknowledge that I am struggling with writing and working, which I usually love to do.

How are you coping? I’d love to hear from you about life in lockdown.

Take care