Diary of a busy practitioner, juggling work and family somewhere in England. This week: making the most of the here and now
This week I want to specifically focus on the silver lining.
It is really hard to find, I know, and, of course, there are so many ways in which we are all suffering- some more than others now and some more than others in the weeks to come.
When I look back to that mental health training we had at work, and the various different 'needs' we all have, it is highly likely that a number- if not all- of these are being affected greatly by the coronavirus. Our need for solitude in particular, as we are all faced with day after day without a break from our families. Our need for security has been and will continue to be under threat, with - no doubt- a flatlining economy. Our need for control, meaning and purpose, status and a sense of community are all dangerously threatened.
But, as I say, today I am focusing on the little things that are quite nice about this different way of life. All we can be sure of is the here and now, so let’s make the most of it.
I am actually embarrassed, and feel very lucky, about the amount of money we are likely to save. We don’t know that one of us won’t get made redundant- to be honest if aliens invaded next week I wouldn’t be surprised- but at the moment we are saving, well, probably thousands and thousands on just kids’ club memberships and takeaway coffee. That’s without the season ticket refunds, no meals out or day trips over Easter, a cancelled holiday, various cancelled haircuts and other such appointments and a wedding outfit I didn’t need to buy. Who knows what’s going to happen but I am having lots of pleasant thoughts about maybe putting that money towards some lovely weekends away at a later date, or maybe paying off a credit card earlier than expected.
I thought DALC1’s anxiety would be through the roof since the schools closed, but actually she has been quite calm. Perhaps not being nagged to keep to a strict timetable (get dressed, get your shoes on, do your spellings) is quite refreshing. I even caught her quietly cleaning her teeth one day without being asked. Granted, it was 4pm, but I was very proud. At some point I am going to worry that we are now raising a generation of children who are going to wash their hands fifty times a day and be scared of leaving the house, but for today I am pleased to see her relaxed.
Whilst the days have been very long (with my husband and I taking it in turns to work/look after the children) I haven’t been chasing around. The shifts themselves are what we can (just about) manage and have worked out ourselves, rather than us having to be somewhere at a certain time because that’s what our employment contracts say we should do. I haven’t spent my lunch break doing errands, to then race home to do bedtime, or drive frantically from school to club to club. I haven’t had to frantically look down the back of the sofa for 50p three times a week for sewing club or Brownies or Sports Relief.
I’m feeling the JOMO (joy of missing out) again, as every evening we get to sit and watch something together on the telly, which, by the way, isn’t sport.
Thanks to our saviour Joe Wicks, we are exercising every day. We are going for long walks. We are spending our normal commute time having a glass of wine.
I finally think it is not too ambitious to make plans for the garden. Normally I start strong in March and by April it’s all gone to pot. The Enormous Puppy has even been helping- she digs a hole and I shove a plant straight in.
I have had a chance to be silly with the kids. I’ve double-bounced them on the trampoline (although I can confirm that four years post-pregnancy is still too soon for activities that involve your insides shaking up and down). I’ve been able to commit to watching whole films with them or doing colouring next to them because I haven’t needed to spend my time ironing work clothes and school uniform. I haven’t had to have the house ready for visitors, or tidied up toys for the cleaners to stand a chance of being able to clean. DALC1 and I have decided to start watching Neighbours, which brings back such lovely memories of both my childhood and my gran, who used to tape it every lunchtime for me so I could watch it when I got in from school and not have to wait until 5.30. Every lunchtime for a good ten years.
At work everyone is being more reasonable. Even that horrendous young male litigator I’ve told you about couldn’t come at me all guns blazing when I very genuinely enquired after his health and that of his colleagues. We are on the brink of resolving the dispute and I think the coronavirus will have helped put arguments over the last few pounds, shillings and pence into perspective for both parties.
In the way that the war changed things forever for women in the workplace, I wonder what long term positive changes are going to come out of this. Will we ever again grasp a stranger’s germy hand as a way of greeting them? Will we finally become paperless? Will offices become a thing of the past (if we can all just finally get Zoom to work)? Who knows.
*The Law Society is keeping the coronavirus situation under review and monitoring the advice it receives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Public Health England.