If you’re anything like me, lockdown has been a slightly surreal blend of worry and anxiety mixed with a surprisingly comfortable re-adjustment into a new, slower lifestyle.
As the weeks of lock-down ticked by, many of us learnt to appreciate a quieter life at a slower pace, and began to notice the things around us that we often don't have time for. We explored every inch of our local surroundings on our daily exercise walks, met new neighbours as we bashed pans for the NHS, and learnt a new level of appreciation and respect for our teachers who, in normal times, do ‘homeschooling’ everyday as their job but with 30 children!
Though we welcome back a gradual return to a pre-lockdown routine with open arms and a sigh of relief, I hope we don’t forget the new and often surprising joys from our lockdown days.
What can we learn from isolation?
1. Family days out can be fun, free, and local
With shops, activities, and attractions closed and travel seriously restricted, lockdown weekends in our family would normally consist of a walk or bike ride in the local fields around our village with a picnic and the occasional cheeky cider for me.
I’ve realised now that for a fun day-out with the family, we don't need to pack up the car, strap everyone in and travel vast distances to a paid-entry attraction. There doesn't need to be a coffee shop, loos, and a gift shop.
Instead, we’ve had a great time staying local - whether it be exploring up a local stream to see how far upstream we can get, or building a den in the woods. In cities, families have been playing football or watching the birds in their local parks and having just as much fun (or even more fun) than going to the cinema or visiting a soft-play centre.
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2. Keep space and distancing in mind
We’ve all needed to keep distance from others during lockdown and there are some really good lessons to be learnt from spreading out a bit. Even at the best of times, huge crowds at popular tourist destinations can be off-putting and these crowds create an enormous strain on both local residents and local wildlife.
It's easy to avoid overcrowded tourist hotspots by studying a map and 'thinking like a local'. You can bet the residents of Dorset avoid Lulworth Cove like the plague! Instead, study a map wherever you go and seek out hidden local treasures away from the crowds – the less it features on google, the better!
3. Focus on the detail and small things around you
I've heard wonderful stories of people finding comfort in nature during lockdown and acquainting themselves with their local wildlife. Why change this?
In our little garden, we’ve enjoyed watching a young family of blackbirds fledge, the babies still come back to feed from the bird table 6 weeks on. We built a moth trap to learn about our local moths and planted what seemed like a million sunflowers… now all towering above us and covered in bees.
As we ease out of lockdown, we’ll be keeping a keen eye on all the birds and beasties, plants and trees around us.
4. Find new ways to explore without a car
Do you remember when the roads went silent? We could cycle all around our local country lanes without seeing another car and in cities, people could walk right up the middle of normally busy, dangerous roads. And yet we all managed to get out for our daily exercise.
For us, this has been a huge lesson in not over-relying on the car for short journeys. We can take a little more time in the mornings to walk to school. We can throw on a backpack and cycle to the local shop for bread, milk, and the newspaper. We can all run, walk, cycle, scoot, kayak, swim, hop, skip, jump. A car is useful but not always needed.
5. Slowing down
In truth, the slower lockdown pace of life has been a complete revelation for me. Did anyone else feel like they were charging around like a headless chicken before the pandemic changed everything? Weekends and evenings were filled with kids clubs, the gym, commuting and chores. But when all that stopped there was time for so much more. As a family we cooked, played cards, read, talked, laughed and RELAXED!!
Moving forwards, I’ll be sure to make time for free-time and to sit and enjoy it. From conversations with others, it seems that lockdown has changed our perspectives and priorities in life. We can continue to take things easy, to welcome in those that are special - whether it be close family, wider family, pets, friends, neighbours, colleagues - and to sit, talk, laugh, play cards, enjoy each other at a slower pace.
So which lockdown-lifestyle lessons will I be taking forwards with me as we all gradually re-emerge from our isolation? All of them!