Opinion: My tips to help you through lockdown 3:0

Schoolchildren make their way to primary school on the first day back after the Christmas break.

Schoolchildren make their way to primary school on the first day back after the Christmas break. - Credit: PA

“This is the worst possible start to the new year.”
“How are we back to where we were in March?”
“We’re really struggling with the kids at home right now.”

These are some of the responses I received on social media from friends on Monday night when the latest lockdown was announced - and they give a pretty good indication of where people’s heads are at right now.
One pair of good friends recently returned from living abroad for a few years because they missed friends and family - and have now used their work permits to head back to that country until this all blows over in the United Kingdom.
I wrote last year about how it felt like November was proving to be the hardest month of the year for many. At that time the nights had drawn in, covid cases were rising, 2020 fatigue had kicked in and Christmas seemed a long way off.
But I’m afraid to say January is going to prove even tougher. It will feel like the longest month to many, no matter what people’s individual challenges are, be they balancing home schooling and work, attempting to teach hyperactive and bored children, keeping fit and healthy while staying safe or not feeling lonely and isolated when keeping company is so hard to do.
And then of course there will be those struggling with the grief of having lost a friend or loved one through the disease.
We’re going to need to be strong, supportive, understanding and patient. With ourselves - and with each other.
With that in mind, rather than concentrate on the many possible negative issues right now, I thought I’d offer a few tips I learned from the previous lockdowns. Of course I’m no expert, but hopefully they may help someone through some of the challenges ahead. I would love to hear your tips as well.

Don’t feel the need to achieve
We suddenly have so much more time on our hands and I think it’s easy to put yourself under pressure to achieve something. Write that book you’ve always thought about, redecorate a room or clear out the garage. Whatever it is - don’t sweat it. If you do it, see it as a bonus, if you don’t, then it doesn’t matter. The last thing any of us need right now is to feel pressure to do anything other than get through the next six weeks.

Give each other a bit of time
With two young boys, our house can sometimes feel like a pressure cooker. The kids argue, we try to talk to them calmly, it happens again, we get less calm and then someone explodes (metaphorically speaking of course). Therefore my wife and I always try to ensure we get at least an hour a day each to do our own thing and step away. It can be a run, walk, time to read - or sometimes just go and lay in a darkened room!

Keep as active as you can  
Try to apply the ‘one exercise’ rule to fit your ability, mobility and interest. Even just 10 minutes of fresh air on your own and a change of scenery can reduce the pressures of lockdown life. If you are taking the children with you, a lockdown walk with a scavenger hunt included is a great way to let of

During lockdown Zoom became one of the only ways to keep in touch with colleagues, friends and famil

During lockdown Zoom became one of the only ways to keep in touch with colleagues, friends and family. Picture: GettyImages - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Make that call or zoom chat
It’s so easy, especially if feeling a bit low, to talk yourself out of speaking to someone - but I bet that when you do go through with it, 99 times out of 100, you’ll feel better afterwards for having a bit of a moan or laugh with a close friend or relative. And so will the other person. Of course, if you really don’t feel up to speaking to others, that is fine as well. True friends will understand, be patient and probably know how best to help.

Keep the kids involved
I’ll admit, the one thing I definitely don’t have an answer to is how to stop the children from becoming bored, argumentative or agitated at some point during the day. It just won’t happen. But I do think if you try to keep explaining to them why lockdown is happening, how they can help make it easier for everyone in the house and ask for their ideas on how to fill time - it might reduce the number of flashpoints.

Remember all things must pass

I’ve lost count in the last few days how many times I’ve reminded myself that this won’t last forever. As one friend said, we’ve got through eight months of this, we WILL get through two or three more. 

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