Written by Volker Ballueder
When being asked to write about a year in lockdown, I figured I look back at what happened back in February 2020. Having had a continuous cough for 6 weeks, and people moving away from me on the train, I had no idea that - most probably - I had COVID-19. For me it was a cold, and no one really knew what this was all about until about 2 weeks later. No masks, no tests, no idea.
When things heated up in March, my colleagues at the time and I were wondering when the government would do anything about it and put us into lockdown. Therefore, a week before lockdown officially started, I started working from home. My ‘lockdown anniversary was the 10th of March. And things unravelled quickly. Meetings, events, and my contract all ended very soon. The boys and I were excited to share an office but soon realised that we couldn’t keep up the work and the day care whilst Mummy was working - as a nurse she couldn’t do her job from home.
It was surreal but for me, but one thing was clear: with any challenge there is an opportunity. I started relying on my instinct and paddled harder, resulting in work coming in from unexpected places as early as May, building up to a nice portfolio a year on. Never ever give up, you need to move forward. My daily mantra.
As a family we tried to write a blog of our lockdown account but the boys lost interest quickly. Living in the lovely South Downs countryside, we had nice shorter and longer walks to get out, to stimulate the brain away from the screen. With lockdown measures easing throughout the year, we ventured out further, went for even longer walks and fit in a holiday in Scotland. My native Germany was out of bounce, the booked cruise (of all years, I know) for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary and the celebrations all didn’t happen. As a matter of fact it has been 18 months since I have seen my parents in ‘flesh’.
Life has changed. No commute, a better connection to nature, more gadgets and TV packages to keep us entertained, a lot of clearing out of stuff, long discussions about house extensions, and decisions about the future. One starts to evaluate what matters in life. We made some life changing decisions.
Unfortunately, with the bad weather, lockdown 2.0 and 3.0, the entertainment for the boys is mainly on screens. Like everyone else we feel that we are bad parents. Some country walks, but the hope of getting them to the skatepark or going down to the beach or bowling disappeared. Not a lot of new movies, and with the lockdown fatigue even a take away seems boring. As humans we just got bored, rely on Amazon to deliver the next day and keep up morale with shopping sprees if we can afford to. But even that gets boring. We reduce the ambitious goals of meditating daily and learning a new language, or playing more board games as a family.
But the time is now to engage with your children. Have those discussions about mental health and online safety. Encourage them to learn Excel (I know that’s pushing it for an 11 year old but he did!). Take time for yourself to learn a new skill: meditation, flying a drone, or I did a certificate in counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy. The time is now to act, be proactive, and figure out what life is all about. So when lockdown ends, and it will end, you come out stronger and better. Prepared as to what values you wouldn’t budge on, and knowing what your purpose is in life.
And of course our PM’s announcement in the UK helped to give us hope and a way out of lockdown. We can start making plans, kids are back to school and I have been hit with lots of links to countdown pages for going back to our beloved pubs.
My coaching and leadership training courses I have delivered during lockdown focus on exactly these topics. Everyone, in my opinion, should explore their values and purpose in life, and review life goals every 90 days. I recorded an online training course early in lockdown 1.0 to teach all that. And we sat down as a family, evaluating what values we stand for. It’s a fun exercise, tiring with the kids’ attention span, but well worth it.
Embrace the time you have to think, before life goes back to a more autopilot way of thinking - and with the right mind(ful) set, you can stop this autopilot in its tracks before you go back to your ‘old way’. Have a think.
You can read 'One Mum's Experience of the National Lockdown' here.