The first lockdown this year, back in March, for me, actually brought a sense of relief, of freedom, of time. I quite enjoyed the uninterrupted weeks to spend quality time with my small family, to get things done and to breath a sigh of relief from the relentless schedule we’d found ourselves trapped in.
Additionally, my husband was working from home full time. For me, that meant not being a solo parent from 7AM - 7PM every day. If a patient ran late, or if there was an emergency mastitis client to squeeze in, I wasn’t doing acrobatics to make it happen. If I was home 30mins late, it was no biggie. I wasn’t making lunches or screaming down the hall “5 MINUTE WARNING” every morning.
It didn’t really matter if the laundry wasn’t done, sometimes, I wasn’t even having to cook dinner because hubby was enjoying some freedom himself to create in the kitchen. For the first few weeks, we didn’t really miss anyone, we were enjoying our company, playing lots of card games and generally having some down time from our usually frenetic work, social and extracurricular activities.
Now I sit here on a rainy Saturday in the middle of September and I feel quite different. Writing the above, I can still see the appeal in this unusual forced rest, but now instead of feeling cocooned, I feel trapped. I’ve noticed despite doing less, I’m more tired. Despite having more time to explore hobbies, our range of weekly activities has whittled down to a predictable few. My patience with the kids is fraying. I’m stressed about us all putting on weight. Gains and skills that the kids were making in sports are being forgotten or lost. We’re becoming less and less creative as our world and exposure to experiences shrinks and shrinks.
So I’ve learnt a few things this year. About myself, about my family and about balance. It turns out, I can feel trapped in two very different ways. Trapped by commitments to be everywhere and do everything, and trapped being unable to go anywhere or do anything. Like all things, everything is good in moderation. Too much of anything can be a bad thing. Too much work, too little work, too much family, too little family, too much to do, too little to do, too much stress, too little to stress about.
The isolation and rest that COVID has forced on us, has had some silver linings. There are some pearls I will strive to keep and remember to implement in the coming years as life goes back to its normal pace. But as humans, we are programmed to explore new territories, to navigate challenges, to connect and communicate with a wide range of people. I’m looking forward to travelling far and wide again, meeting people and connecting, smiling, laughing. But I will look back on 2020 with mixed feelings, remembering some of the important things I learnt about balance.
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