This Could Be Worse
In order to make this time more bearable, I've decided to go all Marcus Aurelius and get stuck into some Stoic mindset trickery. All I need is to re-frame the way I'm looking at this. Instead of thinking, "Well, shit, I'm stuck indoors indefinitely..." I've decided to focus on the very obvious positive right now: I'm not sick and none of my loved ones are, either. This could be whole lot worse.
For the time being, we're perfectly healthy. Which means, yeah, we're stuck in the house like we'd be if we were ill, but we're not. We all feel great! Which means we can still exercise, we can still play with our kids, and we still have the energy to get some things done, even if only for a few short hours a day. Yep - you didn't read that wrong - we only have a few short hours each day to be productive because we have kids.
Right now, there are all these social media posts floating about telling us that, "Oh, now you have the time to learn a new skill! You can do more yoga! You can bake! You can read! You can master the piano! You can finally write that novel!" blah blah blah. And all I can think is, "I HAVE CHILDREN. I CAN'T DO EFF-ALL!" My friend Ellie summed it up beautifully with this Instagram post:
My husband and I have tried to divide up the day so that we each have some time to get things done while the other plays with the kids. But when you throw in exercise, cleaning up, cooking, laundry and basic personal hygiene like showers, that's coming out to about three hours a day for me. Pre-lockdown, from Monday to Friday I had between 8:30am and 5:30pm - nine solid hours per day - when my kids were either at school or on their way there or back. Since the lockdown, I've lost six hours of 'productive' time... which translates as probably about 2 hours of 'fooking about on social media' time and four hours of actually productive time.
Very uncharacteristically, I'm OK with that. I think it's because my kids are at a pretty damn wonderful age. FINALLY. I really struggled with the baby/toddler years. For one, I was completely sleep deprived which makes everything seem bleaker than it is. And, secondly, although I thought my kids were absolutely delicious and perfect, a lot of parenting seemed really bloody boring. New parenthood was such a shock to my system that I wrote a book about it to try and come to terms with what exactly had just happened to my life.
But now? Adella is seven, Win is five, and they're such good company. Weirdly enough, I actually feel lucky almost lucky to have been given this lockdown time with them?! It's such a complete pause on life. I get to actually savour this lovely stage of childhood without all of the usual stressors. The kids don't have to get up and ready by any particular time each day - they don't have to even get dressed if they don't want to. They don't have any homework. We're not rushing to football games on Saturday mornings. We're not dealing with the aftermath of a sugar-filled kids' birthday party every weekend. We're not juggling a full schedule of playdates. I mean, my daughter can finally get to play a full game of Monopoly like she's been wanting to do for months!
GOD HELP ME.
Despite the looming game of the dreaded Monopoly, I'm finding the kids an enormous godsend at the moment, especially when this thing feels overwhelming. I've discovered that my lowest point of the day is shortly after waking, when my stomach sinks as I remember that the world is facing this really ugly crisis. And then, my kids come running into the room, pile into bed with us, and distract me completely from that Groundhog Day feeling. I'm not getting much 'me' time during lockdown, but, given how easy it is to slip into a worry vortex these days, that might actually be a good thing.