It’s been a while.
So long in fact, that I was locked out of my WordPress account and I had to dig deep to remember my password.
But I’m here now, albeit nervously…
“Why aren’t you blogging?”
“Why haven’t you written anything?”
“How is the writing course coming along?”
All fantastic thanks. (In my head.)
It’s a strange thing, because pre-lockdown I felt I didn’t have enough time to concentrate on my writing. Now, having had the ultimate luxury of time, I’ve done even less writing.
The thing is, I’ve been a little bit busy with other things (possibly also known as ‘avoidance tactics’.)
At the point of lockdown, I cancelled all pending appointments, loz’d my cleaner and thought, “Sure, I can do this.”
Because, even though I have an avoidance of certain things, in typical Libran balance, I LOVE getting stuff done! I’m a do-er. A ‘fixer’ as my friend calls me.
I can do this!
…I just hadn’t banked on a housefuls of family members doing ‘it‘ with me.
As an introvert, I love to go out, being social, seeing friends, having fun. But I equally enjoy my time. Me time. Recharge time. Quiet time.
Husband heads off to work. Kids delivered to school. My house becomes ‘my place’. My refuge. My solace.
Taken from me.
Kids not at school. Husband working from home.
What was this trickery? Would Ant and Dec suddenly pop out from behind my sofa and unveil this huge prank?
Seemingly not. This was really happening.
“Okay. I can do this.” I told myself. Again.
I set to work with a strong plan in place and by week two, I’d made good progress on avoiding writing and tackling rooms and drawers and cupboards around the house.
Shelves and their items have been cleared and shifted, sometimes the actual shelves themselves, moving rarely-used items up high (like the Slushy ice maker machine thing) and making room for regularly used things to be at a more accessible height, rather than needing a stepladder. (Aka 6’4″ husband. Handy for high stuff, not necessarily DIY stuff. Although during lockdown he has proven himself a worthy apprentice and more than capable. )
Onto the spare wine glasses from our wedding list, taking up valuable space in a kitchen cupboard. They’ve finally been unpacked – it’s only been 15 years. In our defence, we aren’t the biggest boozers. Husband rarely drinks, as it takes a LOT of alcohol to even make a dent in his impairment.
And the last time I was drunk was at a friend’s 40th, where wandering bar staff kept topping up drinks and somehow my glass was always in the firing line. I was carried out of there (apparently) and spent the following day in bed whilst husband took kids out for lunch. Mothers Day lunch. Shame.
Back to the lockdown though – the office had a good declutter and the shredder has been working double time. Yet to learn ‘five sheets maximum’ reminder is there for a reason.
There was a lot of cooking. A lot of cleaning. A lot of teaching. A lot of working. A lot of Zoom calls. A lot of washing.
We all had our jobs to do and set to it with pretty good attitudes. All working around each other, checking in to see how we were doing, going on walks and all sorts. Busy busy busy.
By week four, I was even looking at various designs for workwear coats.
But by week six, I had to have a very frank discussion with myself that something had to give. I was forever cleaning, still wanting to keep the house ‘just so’, forcing all ‘housemates’ to commend me on ‘how nice the bathroom smelled’, ‘how clean the floor was’ and how ‘satiny smooth the ironed bed linen was’. By the way, don’t come at me with your ‘I don’t iron my bedsheets’ – I am willing to give up some things. Not that.
I was done. Finished. Frazzled. Miserable. I had to purge something before I was shipped off in a straight-jacket and thanks to a very good friend, experiencing similar, she encouraged me to draw up a schedule and stick to it. It involved 50% less cleaning. I was over the moon.
[At this point, it’s worth mentioning that there have been some incredibly sad times during lockdown. Please don’t think with this blog I’m making light of a desperately tragic time for so many people. I most definitely am not. But I’ve watched people still share ‘funnies’ and blogs about food and fashion trends and all sorts and for me personally, these are the things that have kept some semblance of normality amongst this mess. So hopefully you will indulge me in my musings too….]
By week eight or nine I started to see the plus side of lockdown… I even made a list of positive things:
- No chance of the kids catching nits. That would have finished me off.
- Yes, my hair really is that dark naturally.. but on the plus, I HAVE NO GREY HAIRS!
- Fortunate enough to wrangle a weekly online slot and many substitutes have now become firm favourites. Received a sub of tennis racquet-shaped pasta and it was a complete winner! It did however descend into a shit show whilst the kids recreated Wimbledon and flicked peas at each other using pasta racquets.
- We can finally bake our own challah! It had always seemed a daunting bake. Something best left to the pros. But it’s fun and a lovely activity to do with the kids. (And I can do a nifty 4-strand plait thanks to YouTube.)
- I’ve deep cleansed my address book, email inbox, subscriptions and gone pretty much paperless in my finances. I feel about a stone lighter.
- Following an extensive spice cupboard audit conducted by my eldest, I have accepted the fact that I have more than enough dried parsley. However, I have just added red pepper flakes to the bursting collection and I can now make the The Good Earth’s Crispy chilli beef. (If you know, you know). All thanks to @food_obsessed_girl.
- After initial first-world problem meltdowns that I couldn’t continue go to the gym or Pilates classes, I have rediscovered the delights of instagram lives and zoom classes. Thanks to @ciaralondon I have expanded my music appreciation with soca, whilst holding and pulsing and flexing. And thanks to @pilateswithlouise, I have rediscovered the joys of matwork and look forward to ‘Teaser Tuesdays’.
- I taught my kids new skills – like what the ‘Rinse Aid’ light meant on the dishwasher. And that ‘adding salt’ didn’t mean using Malden Sea Salt. They were fascinated that there was actual special salt for dishwashers.
- I’ve read. And read and read. Usually I only get to do a ‘solid read’ on holiday. But lockdown has allowed me that pleasure again and it’s my detox in the evening. I think I’ve actually watched less tv than ever.
- Re: above, possibly a lie. Youngest and I indulged in some feel-good tv and binged on Friday Night Dinner. ‘Shit on it’ is now a regular turn of phrase in our house. And daughter will often greet me with ‘Hello Jackieeeee’. Fun fact: the house where it’s filmed is round the corner from me.
- Got the kids on board with sheet change day – Fridays if you must know. They are now fully capable humans as opposed to what my friend’s daughter said following bed stripping instructions. “What does ‘strip’ the bed mean?”
- My hygienist appointment avoidance was finally on an even keel with everyone else. I went just before lockdown – I truly hate going. But now? I can’t go. You can’t go. No-one can go!!! I am guilt free. Although feeling sad for my daughter who has a brace that is currently missing about five brackets and I had to perform a DIY wire cut using nail clippers. Don’t worry, it was on advice of orthodontist and so far so good.
- We can now bake our own Millie’s Cookies. We went through various recipes and test batches – oh the gluttony – but have finally reached perfection thanks to Baking Mad. I guess it depends on what your version of perfection is. Plus, we were sick of banana bread.
See? Lots of positives. There are of course so many negatives in this altered normal life we are all living, but I’m trying hard each day to outweigh with the positives that we, as in my family, are all healthy.
I crumbled at week 6 and again, 6 weeks later. This week, week 13-ish, I had the meltdown of meltdowns. I just couldn’t do ‘it’ anymore.
It’s really not easy. And ‘it’ will be different things to different people. But my ‘it’ got too much for me this week. It felt good to have my moment and re-set.
And I feel much better for getting all of this down in a blog. Writing makes me happy. So do cookies.
I hope I won’t leave it so long next time.
Must go – the slushy maker is required from the top shelf with the impending warm weather…