Our world has been a pretty small place this year, our household went into lockdown in early March and we proceeded to stay there right through the worst of the pandemic until the shielding program was paused on August 1st.
Through social media I was aware of the enormous community effort to keep spirits up and help the vulnerable with shopping and picking up meds etc, but it all felt so far away. Locked in our home, life for us carried on fairly normally, like it was one long weekend. The longest weekend known to man!
On a day to day basis nothing was that unusual, although as the days mounted up into weeks and months, the usual feelings of isolation and disconnection began to build. We watched from the window as life began to pick up pace outside, more cars, more groups of people walking out together. Soon we were itching to get back out there with everyone else and figure out what our new normal was going to look like.
The first time I drove out to take Thomas to A&E for unidentifiable pain was a surreal experience. During lockdown, families had been painting life-size cut outs of children and hanging them on the park fences holding hands as a symbol of hope and solidarity to other families taking their allocated daily exercise.
As we drove past the park, the cut outs were faded and sagging with many fallen to the floor and trampled on. There was this unshakable feeling that our local community has been through something that we had missed. They were all in it together, while we were isolated at home.
Since then we’ve managed a few trips out of the house for appointments and the odd fun trip for the kids. Gone are social distanced queues outside shops, and the one-way systems. There are a few people around but nothing has been overly busy.
And of course, almost everyone is wearing masks.
It’s very strange going about the town with a mask on, I realise belatedly that no one can see my smile of gratitude when they step aside to let me pass or greeting when I walk through the shop door. I’m trying to remember to say thank you, or hello to bridge that connection with other people.
As we sprint into September and are preparing to send my older two children to school everyone keeps asking me what I will do with myself. Pre-covid I felt like I was constantly running around, chasing my tail, trying to get everything done. The vast majority of it was outside of the house. Now I look ahead and I’m not sure how I will fill my days.
I’m still not overly comfortable with the risks of being out and about so I suspect I will still limit them, and I would have to take my two-year-old with me anyway. I’m really not sure I can cope with him sucking on the trolley locks at the supermarket or picking everything up off the shelves!
So, I suspect that our new normal will continue to be very cautious, spending lots of time at home, and trying to recharge again just in case we have a second lockdown over winter!