A handful of the GWG team share their thoughts, feelings and tips after week one of isolation.
Since Boris Johnson announced lockdown – and in the days that preceded it – I’ve never felt more grateful for the sunshine. I think it’s the world’s way of easing us into this painful period. I live in Oxford with my husband and four-year-old daughter, and the hardest thing so far has been explaining to her why there’s no nursery; why we can’t see her friends – or her beloved Granny – except over FaceTime and Zoom; and why there will be no going to playgrounds for quite some time.
But I’ve also learned how adaptable young children are. She’s quite happy pottering, as long as one of us is with her, and we’ve rediscovered – with great gratitude – the usually deserted Victorian cemetery at the end of our road. It’s overgrown and wild, and she can really stretch her legs while avoiding the ever-present threat of nettle stings (‘stinks’ as calls them). I’m loving seeing some of the untamed nature, and she’s loving doing ‘shows’ in the open air and scampering. OK, she may think that some of the more elaborate gravestones are for climbing on (sorry ex-Victorians), but least they have regular visitors now.
Our community has been heart-warmingly wonderful. No sooner than this all kicked off and there was a WhatsApp group set up. There is a real sense that people want to support their neighbours in any way they possibly can. There is even a lovely seed and plant swapping operation going on!
We’ve been making use of our time by doing a lot of baking using any old ingredients in our cupboards. And to off set the effects of that (a bit, anyway), we are twice daily doing 'Joe Wicks' kids’ workout – along with the rest of the world. It’s a perfect five minutes of star jumps and lunges and the like. Other hits have been getting a water tray outside to try and emulate one of my daughter’s favourite nursery activities, downloading the Teach Your Monster To Read app and today, at 3pm. we’ll be joining an online superhero party for three to seven-year-olds. We’ll report back.
But it’s not, of course, all fun and games. The psychological hit of having one’s basic freedoms curtailed is a lot to take in for all of us. I ran to the supermarket yesterday, and gave up after 15 minutes spent standing in a huge queue, everyone two metres apart, as they (sensibly) let one person in, one person out. Being part of that line, many of us in gloves and scarves wrapped around noses and mouths on a gloriously sunny day, is something I know I’ll never forget. I went, instead, to the greengrocer, picked up some veg and then promptly panicked that the man at the till was not a natural social distancer, took the change he gave me and bunged it in my pocket not to be touched for a few days.
By now I know a number of friends who have had suspected Covid-19, some of whom are reassuring, some of whom are less so. But, along with every single other person in the country, I am grateful beyond measure to those who cannot stay at home, those whose risk is far greater than a solitary experience with non-socially distancing greengrocer. The supermarket employees are heroes, as are those valiantly delivering food, and of course, those working in healthcare. Along with millions of others, we clapped and cheered for our NHS outside our front doorstep at 8pm on March 26 to say a big heartfelt thank you. It was extraordinary. They are extraordinary.
We will keep sharing online discoveries that are useful and inspirational – we’d love it if you shared your find with us too, over on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Lucy Abletshauser, Shopping Editor
We live in London and have two boys, nine and seven. Since lockdown, I have been genuinely blown away by how amazing our community is. The street we live on has its own WhatsApp group, and we chat to each other on a daily basis, checking to see if anyone needs any help with food or anything else. We have a fair few doctors on our road too, and they are all working so very hard in their various hospitals. I am moved, daily, by people’s wonderful, uplifting and caring ways. I have already got to know people who I have merely smiled at on the streets previously, in that typically English way, much better through this.
The boys’ school has been nothing short of exceptional too. If the truth be told, I was worried at the prospect of home schooling. In fact, I was dreading it! We are very lucky however as our school has a virtual learning programme and the boys’ various teachers pop up on their screens at scheduled times, throughout the day. So much work is going into this and we are exceptionally grateful (particularly as my nine- (nearly ten) year-old’s maths is becoming, erm, somewhat challenging at times. Teachers: major hats off to you all.
We live close to a park, but sadly (and understandably) it has been closed. We do make sure we all go for a lovely one hour walk along the river, once school is out. We all adhere to the two-metre rule and when the sun is shining (long may it last) we all forget, for a brief moment, the sheer craziness that is going on in the world.
On a personal level, I am trying to watch/read the news once a day, and once a day only. I personally feel that having it on the whole time in the background is not healthy. For me, all it does is promote anxious thoughts. Ditto Instagram. As a self-certified Insta-addict, obsessively scrolling has the potential to make you feel as though you are not quite cutting it, so it’s best in small doses.
We were out there at 8pm on March 26, giving a huge round of applause to all the wonderful medical staff who are working tirelessly, giving it their very best. It was so moving as the claps and cheers reverberated around the streets. We are so grateful to them and so many others who are keeping things ticking along out there. And sun, please keep on shining. You are raising our spirits more than you’ll ever know!
Lydia Mansi, Lifestyle Editor
I run a creative marketing consultancy that specialises in supporting independent online businesses. This week has consisted of a lot of 15-hour days firefighting for our clients and a ton of creative thinking to completely re-imagine the carefully planned out spring strategy we had in place.
Yet amongst the chaos there has been an overarching feeling of being in this together and that if we adapt, stay visible and reactive, we can weather the storm. I have worked from home on-and-off for 10 years, so while I am missing the human interaction of client meetings and the creative collaboration of photo shoots, video calls with my team and clients has helped keep some semblance of normality. It’s a new normal, granted, but finding a daily routine that works for you, that gives you purpose as well as rest and escapism, is the best formula I’ve found so far.
Becky Ladenburg, Features Editor
I learned four key lessons in my first week as a socially isolated mother, teacher, cleaner and cook.
1. Children love a schedule. Ours is pinned to the fridge. Though it does not change from day to day, they consult it with glee from hour to hour.
2. Children love cleaning. Arm them with a mop, a bucket and some warm, soapy suds and they are thrilled to be let loose on the kitchen floor.
3. Sandwiches are fine for lunch every single day.
4. Before lockdown, I had begun to worship the Flat White as a false idol. I’m learning the hard way to thrive in its absence.
By the GWG Team