1. You will wish you had planned better
The days between Cyril telling us when lockdown would start, and when lockdown did actually start, felt like weeks. In a way I wanted it to happen instantly, as I felt like I was in limbo, merely stretching out the social distancing and waiting for it to merge into a full on house arrest. Sure, I squeezed in last shoots and a few shops but even those were cautious, sanitised and impersonal. I bought some wine (not nearly enough, it turns out) some tinned good and some 2 minute noodles. I also visited the nursery and grabbed some seedlings and soil. All normal purchases. What I regret the most is not planning better for all the ‘time’. I’m not talking about stockpiling toilet paper or whoring out Makro’s supply of baked beans – I’m talking about things to do once the novelty factor had worn off. Human beings are constantly wishing for time, for there seemingly is never enough. I – when dreaming about free time – have always wished learning how to watercolour paint, learn illustration, macrame or sort out the garden. Sadly, I don’t think any of us realised just how few items would be available and just how much the urge to make everything on our Pinterest boards would pressure us into panic mode. If I had known, 20 odd days ago, what I knew now, I would have skipped the bog roll and tinned good aisle and headed straight to builders Warehouse, Leroy Merlin, the nursery, fabric and craft stores and bought DIY items, stationery and glue sticks by the truckload.
2. Your urge to be productive will overwhelm you
One of the most beautiful things to have come out of lockdown, is global sharing. Everywhere I look people are giving of their time, their skills and their passions. Musicians are holding virtual concerts, artists are teaching people how to draw, chefs are sharing their secret recipes and most relevant to me, photographers are teaching their best kept secrets. This sharing, coupled with basically everything available on the Internet, means that there has never been a better time to learn something new. But with that comes the overwhelming panic of trying to do too much. Let’s get one thing out the way – if you are doing lockdown with kids, then you don’t actually have free time. If anything – trying to keep them entertained/schooled/fed (oh my god for the feeding!) as well as trying to get work done, keep the house from imploding with mess and fold laundry, there’s barely time for a hot coffee with everything else going on. Let’s all just take a moment for stay at home moms, everywhere, right? My days have taken on a semi routine whereby I get my workout done first thing and then spend half a day in my office churning out edits and admin. Luckily, the one kid still naps and the other is loving his new found TV freedom. But once the toddler is awake its a buckle-down-the-hatches-and-brace-the-storm until they are all crafted, played and snacked out. When bedtime arrives (for them) I find myself pouncing the archives of Youtube or Pinterest trying to decide what I want to learn from all these people telling me that I can do anything now… which leads me to my next point:
3. You will put a lot of pressure on yourself
I’m seeing photographers create underwater mermaid composites and I’m watching illustrators churn out children’s book and novelists give lessons on mandarin and I want to do it all, but realistically, I can’t. And nor can you. I will not be able to learn a new language this lockdown, I probably wont have the capacity to learn a brand new skill and I sure as shit cannot bake another cake (for the sole reason that fattening the curve has become my new lockdown hobby of choice). What I can do is prioritise my never ending list of things I want to do and create an edible elephant of realistic, achievable goals, For me, my lockdown task has been so sift, sort and categorise all the photographs I have taken of my kids and organise them in such a way that I can then start working on photo books. And honestly? We are 20 days in and I am still downloading iCloud photos from 2017. So, if you’re like me and the anxiety of ‘getting stuff done’ is crippling you, be gentle on yourself, Instead of learning how to crochet a dinosaur princess or paint a masterpiece, try improve on a skill you already have. Or don’t. be gentle on yourself.
4. You wont do what you thought you would
When I’m stressed, I clean. Or sort. Or fix. So I imagined coming out of this lockdown like a Marie Condo butterfly emerging from a cluttered cocoon – all back to basics breezy with a house that shone, alphabetised tinned goods in my pantry and seasonally organised cupboards. Well, none of that has happened. A) because living in a house with 2 small humans means that nothing is ever clean or simple and B) living in a house with 2 small humans means that there is literally no time to eat the tinned goods, let alone alphabetise them.
5. You will learn more out about yourself
A friend once called me a fixer of broken souls, and I guess I am. I don’t know where it comes from but I have this innate need to mend and fix and heal. If I look back on a lot of relationships I’ve realised that the majority of them started with them being in a vulnerable position, and me being the carer. I can’t operate unless there is someone who needs me and this lockdown has seen me sending messages of support and checking in and facetiming those who were battling. But it’s also given me a reality check about putting myself before others and learning about boundaries. I very seldom put myself first, or my kids first, and lockdown has forced me to reprioritise my relationship with myself and my children. It has been hard, but being alone with only your immediate family gives you a great sense of perspective and understanding and I am slowly starting to learn a bit more about my people pleasing ways.You will also find out a lot abut the people around you. and then some. Crisis doesn’t create character. It reveals it. I found this quote this morning and it resonated so loudly with me. There is nothing quite like a world in crisis to make you realise who checks in on you, for a change. Listen to that silence, dear reader, for it is deafening.
6. You will love getting to know your kids
One of the most wonderful things to have happened this lockdown, is the relationship I have built with my children, pre lock down Kate lived in a world of frenetic madness. Deadline driven, I always put work first and spending time with my kids became a frustrating distraction from THINGS THAT NEEDED DOING. And whilst I still have some residual work and admin, I have no work to go to, which means I am home all the time and able to spend one one one moments with my kids. I’m not rushing off to a shoot or locked in my studio editing, I am home evenings and weekends and the novelty for me is even more exciting than it is for them. I have always known they were great, but discovering their personalities and characters and individual quirks has been the most breathtakingly wonderful experience. To sit down and play with my kids, without having to be anywhere else, well, that’s just magic (disclaimer – I still look forward to their bedtime now more than ever and the days now actually have 79 hours in them)
7. You will get to know your spouse
Mine swears a lot on conference calls. And he is on calls a lot. The man must have a brain tumour the size of a boulder at this stage from the radiation. He also types really loudly on his keyboard and has his phone set to an annoying ‘ping’ every time he smacks the keypad. He has not followed through on his promise to pick up dog turd (instead he slips the kid 10 bucks to do it once a week) and he is so caught up in work that yesterday I shoved a raw chilli in his mouth after he ignored me for the 19th time. However, despite the murderous glares I give him when he clangs his cutlery against the bowl for the umpteenth time, our marriage has actually improved. From a couple who fights, alot, we have had one teeny argument. Turns out, that actually being around your spouse for longer than a ‘morning‘ before you rush off to your proverbial jobs or meetings, has its perks. I also need to say very nice things about him because – for the first time in my life – I need to borrow a salary from someone, and tag, he is it.
8. You will miss the small things
Grabbing a bottle of wine at Woolies, same day Takealot delivery, tenderstem broccoli, an afterwork glass of wine with a friend, braai’s and dinner parties, your kids hugging their grandparents, seeing your parents, walking your dog, a run around the block, browsing the sales at Cotton On, the makeup aisles in Clicks, being able to buy whatever you need, when you need it, pre-santisier soft hands, impromptu get togethers and even hugs.
9. You will wish for more time
When Cyril announced the additional 21 days of lockdown, my first thought was relief (followed by the crippling vomity feeling of no work, job, income or money for food). The first 21 days went by quickly and despite moments of panic, cabin fever, sadness and one fat snot drizz cry into my leggings, for the most part it has been pleasant and productive, but I still feel like I need more time. In a personal capacity to finish my lockdown tasks and actually sort those cupboards out, and from a country and global perspective in terms of healing and slowing this frightening virus down.
10. You will be emerge out of this more grateful
For so much. For your health and your spouses ability to generate an income whilst you cant, ha! For your family and your friends For your kids and your dogs. For your garden and your space. For your ability to adapt. For gyms and shops and small businesses. For Papachinos and takeaways. For thinking of you’ messages from strangers and check in calls from friends, For your dermapen therapist. For work. For clients and income and money to buy things. For healthcare and heat professionals, for workers who kept on going though all of this. For the world that kept on turning, waiting for us to heal it, and heal ourselves.
Wow, this is so beautifully written and we all put too much emphasis on “keeping up with the Jones’”. I’ve realised I need fewer material items like clothing, make up, fancy food and more to,time to do things that make me happy. When we’re out of this lockdown, it’s important to remember the words you have so aptly written.