Its been a funny old week…

I’ve had a busy week. Lots going on and not much time to really get stuck into much. I was wondering if I’d even get this post finished in time!

There have been a few visitors to the house what with the water meter repair man, the fence repair man who was so patient with my son’s constant questions and offerings of assistance, the hairdresser and the piano movers it’s been a bit like a train station. Thankfully everyone was sensible and wore PPE as with the guidance and we all kept our distance. And… Yes, you read it correctly. We have a piano. I’m following in my grandmothers footsteps now we have acquired our neighbours lovely old upright piano. The easiest money a removal company has ever made it took them no more than 30 minutes from their arrival to finishing the job, including moving it a few yards.  I just need to find the time to scour YouTube for decent teach yourself piano lessons!

I’ve had a little bit of time to reflect on my previous ‘The truth about lock down’ post and some of the comments made, it was nice to feel I’m not the only one who found it somewhat challenging during lock down. So, for this post I thought I’d look at what I enjoyed about lock down as there were some treasured moments.

There’s been a lot of negatives to lock down, social media and news reports everywhere touting bad news, and it has had its ups and downs for me as it will have done for many others and I also know that some of you may not have had the opportunity to enjoy lock down and will have continued working in a key worker role or working from home juggling endless demands from work and/or kids and such like, for which I bow to you – I couldn’t have done it! So, this is my list of five little things I’ve enjoyed about lock down.

  • Spending time with my family

This one is probably the most obvious. I love my little family and treasure the moments we have together, yes, even the not so nice ones where we’re all tired and cranky and we aren’t getting along, which usually only lasts about five minutes but it’s hard all the same! And I confess to having had a feeling of slight dread initially at having the kids at home over lock down and then trying to manage home schooling but we made it through in one piece albeit with a slightly dishevelled gin soaked mum following behind 😉

I do realise I have much more of an appreciation for my family both near and far. I really missed my Mum and Dad when we couldn’t see them as much but I looked forward to the regular chats to them on the phone and I loved my daily check in texts to them to make sure they were both doing well. I had a hard time not being able to spend time with them for Mothering Sunday or for my Dad’s birthday, but thankfully I can see them more now we have social bubbles. I enjoyed my Zoom and WhatsApp meetings with friends and family, which was a small step towards social normality for me.

Although hubby was working all day he was at home hidden away in his office aka the man cave. But, I realised how nice it was to have him at home. He’d pop down for a coffee and we’d have a catch up for a couple of minutes before he got back to his work and it was so nice being able to cook an evening meal ready at a decent hour so we could all eat together as a family. The kids loved having him at home, and showing him what they’d done, they’d put little presentations up on the telly and do a rundown of their day each evening, it really was sweet. It’s certainly given us something to think about for the future, life is too short for long commutes and endless work hours. Now we just have to work out how we can achieve our perfect work/life balance.

  • Time in the garden

I’m not a gardener by any means. I have a pop it in the ground and hope for the best approach but I do love watching Monty on Friday evenings with a glass of wine. Our garden is modestly sized and we’ve worked hard during lock down tidying up the patch where a huge 12 feet tall by at least 25 feet long stretch of Leylandii once dominated the landscape.

I have found it rewarding working in the garden although not many plants seem to have come up this year like the riot of colour we had last year but I guess we have a biennial garden! This has meant my list of things to do and shop for has grown substantially as I’ve had time to think about what we need for the garden. Its been enjoyable digging and working the ground especially the bit where the hedge had been as the soil needed significant improvement in quality having been drained of any goodness for 30 odd years. The assistance of a huge pile of well rotted chicken and horse manure helped considerably and the plants we planted are now thriving there. It’s a good feeling when you’ve achieved something despite it being hard work.

Image by Rebecca Palmer

Its been a pleasure to just sit outside in the sunshine on the bench hubby gave me for Christmas, which I’m still debating on what colour to paint, and watching the kids enjoying themselves in the pool. Much laughter and brevity abound. Seeing the kids’ faces when a seed they’d sowed popped up was just so sweet, and ploughing through the umpteen weeks worth of lettuce and trying to avoid the cabbage white caterpillars that were incredibly heavily camouflaged was a daily chore. We may even have a few giant pumpkins for October if they carry on growing so well! Even the kids butterfly farm now has cocoons!

  • Having some me time

Although I’ve not been able to get my brows done, return of the monobrow anyone? Or go to the hairdressers which would normally be my little bit of me time, I have found the kids have been much more relaxed about things at home including bedtimes which has meant I’ve been able to have a few minutes each day to have a little bit of time for me to sit and spend some time doing something for myself. Reading a book, having a relaxing bath or painting my nails, these are the simple pleasures I cherish as I rarely get to do them.

Like most mums and dads I have little time left after doing stuff in the house, looking after the family and working, and just about everything else in between to spend time pampering and looking after myself that when I do get some time I value it and use it wisely. And no, I will not be getting up at the crack of dawn to get myself ready for the day I’m just too tired! I value my sleep, what little I get.

I admit Friday evenings with Monty are booked out every week regardless of what’s happening so I guess you could call that a little bit of me time but it’s not quite the same as a long soak in the tub is it?

This was also my opportunity to have a little ‘slowing down time’ despite the chaos of our little home! Even though I work part time I still find it can still be quite stressful. I’ve spoken to friends who’ve been furloughed and they’ve found their time out of the rat race to be particularly beneficial. Many have said that it’s given them time to reassess their way of life and what they want or need out from it and it’s become apparent just how important the work/life balance really is. I really hope employers think about this when reassessing their own business needs/wants. Happy staff are more productive and cost effective.

  • Experimenting with food

I’m not the world’s best cook. Lord knows I’d love to be but it just isn’t going to happen, I don’t have the ‘Nigella turn to camera and pout in a sultry manner’ skill, but I do have a knack for just throwing things in a pan and hoping for the best, surely that’s a skill – right?

I have a friend who is an amazing baker and she regularly posts her creations on Facebook. Every time I see them it’s like a scene from Turner and Hooch! I’ll just leave that one there…

It’s been great spending time in the kitchen making meals with the family, something that we did a little of before but never the amount we do now. I’ve become a lot more chilled about the spills and empty utensils pot at the end of each cooking session, and the amount of pots and pans it takes to make a one pan meal when cooking with kids, but that’s the joy of it in a way, they get to understand what it takes to make a meal and there’s a real appreciation over what they’ve made.

I have learnt a lot about not wasting food and using what we have in the cupboards, freezer and fridge. I raided the bookshelves for any of my recipe books and scoured the internet for ideas and came up with a couple of great tasting, easy to throw together family meals that the kids actually wanted to eat, and actually asked for seconds. Yes, seconds! Feeling smug here.

I really like http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com as they have some super easy, very yummy recipes which are family friendly. Another site I found useful was http://www.realfood.tesco.com which you put in the ingredients you have and it finds recipes for you based on what you have. Genius. I got quite a few from here.

Maybe I’ll share some on a post one day if you’d like?  

  • Hearing, seeing and breathing it all in

What do I mean by all that? I have thoroughly enjoyed the peace and quiet lock down has given. Yes, I’ve heard kids in the garden enjoying themselves in their pools and on their trampolines and generally just having kid fun, but I’m talking about the fact that I can hear the birds and insects, not the hum of vehicles or industry. I have terrible hearing and without a hearing aid I’m pretty much deaf and during lock down my hospital appointments to check my ears had been cancelled which has meant my already bad hearing had got worse, but because there hasn’t been the background hum of society I’ve been able to hear the sounds that normally get drowned out. It’s been a delight watching bees go about their daily business pollinating and buzzing about. Hearing the birds singing and seeing them come down to the feeders getting braver each day, and chastising us when the feeders run empty. You can see them lining up on the fence looking at us! They’ve got so used to us being in the garden with them that they don’t even bother to fly away.

I’ve been able to see the colours clearer because I’ve stopped and really looked, I’ve been able to sit on the bench and take it all in. Yes there are always niggles about job security, paying the bills and what’s going to happen next with Covid-19, living with the unknown is always going to be something that’s there at the back of my mind but putting that to one side it’s been nice to switch off from it all occasionally – even for just a few minutes a day.

Have you been able to slow down and enjoy lock down? Or are you one of our brilliant key workers looking forward to a little time off to try to enjoy some valued ‘me’ time? What have you enjoyed about lock down? What, if anything, are you going to take away from this strange time in history?

I know I’m going to appreciate nature a little more, it’s been a trying and unusual event that isn’t going away in a hurry and I’ve been able to reflect on some of what has happened and learn from it – especially how important family and good friends are.  

Take care, stay safe

Becks

xo

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