I’ve realised something about myself. I have a standard lockdown pattern of behaviour.
If you live in Melbourne, you probably know what I’m talking about.
The first 24-48 hours after a lockdown is announced I go into full “comfort eating and binging Netflix” mode. I don’t think I consciously notice it, but I think my brain goes a bit numb and it causes me to function at a very base level.
Lockdown #6 is no different. I had to cancel clients and social plans, then spent half of the first day in bed and the second half slumped on the couch wondering what I could eat next?
The following morning, I woke up early but instead of reaching for my phone to begin some endless scrolling of news and Facebook, I got up and started work on the laundry and then the kitchen.
By the time my husband emerged, I had a plan. “I’m calling a team meeting!” My husband looked around for sympathy at the only other occupant of the house (Tex the wonder cat) and sat down with a resigned look on his face.
Half an hour later we had covered four agenda items that I thought we could work on.
Instead of abandoning any form of routine healthy meals, we were going to make a meal plan for the next week and not buy any of our usual lockdown snacks and sugary goodies. Alcohol would be limited to Friday and Saturday nights only.
We scheduled a daily walk and made a pact to nag encourage each other to stick with it.
Putting time on the calendar for a hobby or pastime and enjoying it guilt-free – for me, that means not thinking about the day-to-day chores I “should” be doing.
We made a list of all the little jobs and maintenance we can do ourselves but had been putting off. We agreed to work on them for a few hours a day on the weekend to get them done.
For us that includes:
- Finishing the replanting and trimming in readiness for Spring and cleaning down the area outside the back door so it’s clean and peaceful to look at.
- Decluttering the roof space in the garage (It’s holding boxes we put up there when we moved in six years ago!), and
- Painting some high-traffic areas in the house that are looking a little shabby!
I wanted to talk about the things that got us down during previous lockdowns and think about what we could do better this time around.
- I knew that I usually stopped making the bed every day, even though a made bed makes me feel better. So, we agreed that the last person out must make it in the morning.
- My husband’s pet peeve is the dishwasher, so we agreed on a schedule to run and empty it, (my husband does most of the cooking, so it was in my best interest to get on board with this one!)
- Committing to a group five minute clean up before going to bed, so the house “feels” better in the morning
- Changing it up. We decided to drag out the Darth Vader fire pit (made by my brother) and sit outside for the evening. This was a small change but meant we weren't spending another night watching television.
I set some reminders on my phone to make sure I check in with several family members who are in aged care and now cut off from visitors. I always have good intentions, but lockdown days drift past and I often forget. We also made a plan with our kids to have more regular Zoom catch-ups. Texts are okay, but sometimes just seeing the faces of the people we love is a great mood boost.
Now that the ground rules were in place, we picked something off the list and got to it.
Later that day, having ticked off a few of the gardening jobs we had put on our list, we settled down in front of the Darth Vader fire pit. We chatted about what we had accomplished and decided to give ourselves a “solid eight”.
It just felt good to have taken control of something when it feels like everything around us is out of control.
If your household could use some new lockdown habits, why not get everyone together and decide on some “Team Goals”. It could be something as simple as agreeing that the dishes are done once a day or committing to a five-minute clean-up before bed. Ask everyone to talk about what would make them feel better, and the things that drive them nuts. Then see if you can come up with a plan to get through it together a little less unscathed.
Let me know if this strategy works for you. I’d love to hear your stories.
(Darth Vader Fire Pit made by my very talented brother)