What I REALLY learnt during a year in lockdown

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As we’ve just passed the one year anniversary of when lockdown began in the UK, I’m seeing lots of posts online about what people have learnt from this time. 

I’m seeing lots of posts from when we were all optimistic and enthusiastic about saying at home! Remember when it was all a bit of a novelty and we thought it would just be for a few weeks!?

Most people are sharing how strong and resilient we are and how we’ve all realised the importance of our mental health. We’ve learnt that exercise and fresh air make us feel alive and that our local greenspaces are a lifeline during tough times. We’ve learnt how much we love nature, appreciate the safety of our homes, love our local communities and miss our friends and family when we don’t see them and yadda yadda yadda yadda.

Yes to all this stuff! But it’s all getting a bit generic now.

I think I already knew this stuff, I just appreciate it all a lot more now.

So I thought I’d really share what I’ve really learnt during a year in lockdown – mostly to prove to myself that it hasn’t been all bad!

Table of Contents

#1. I’ve learnt to bake!

It’s kind of crazy to think that I’d never baked a cake before lockdown because I bake ALL THE TIME now. I even bake so much that I’ve progressed to fancy, unusual baking like chocolate and beetroot cake or this 6 layered rainbow cake!

I used to make Betty Crocker cupcakes but now I’m like a real adult who measures out ingredients and everything.

#2. I’ve learnt to paddleboard

Well…I’ve learnt to stand on the board without instantly falling off!

If you’d like to know more about buying a paddle board and learning, I wrote a little bit about it over here on Instagram.

#3. I’ve learnt that my kids are happiest when we don’t do a lot

tips to get your kids playing outdoors more

This was a really interesting one for me because I was always one of those mums who planned lots of activities. Play dates, the zoo, petting farms, soft play, parks, hikes and adventures. I loved it and prided myself on busy a busy, hands-on mum.

But when lockdown hit, I realised my kids were just as happy building a fort under the kitchen table as they had been during these fancy day trips. They seem to love the comfort and familiarity of home and they’re more likely to get lost in their imaginative play games when they’re at home.

#4. But I’m happiest when I have lots to do

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for me. I tried to embrace the whole ‘let’s just sit and relax and enjoy doing nothing’ vibe of lockdown but I can’t do it. Sitting and doing nothing is not relaxing for me!

I like to have projects and goals and to-do lists and tasks, even if it is just making damson gin with all our damsons!

For a while I started thinking I was one of those people who can’t sit and be still with their own thoughts. People online were suggesting it was a bad thing if you weren’t happy doing nothing! But I don’t think it’s that. I like my own thoughts while I’m hiking or gardening, just not while I’m sat still doing nothing.

#5. I’ve learnt to share my feelings in my own way

I think we all know by now that talking about how we feel is so important. But that doesn’t always mean sitting down and having a heart to heart and you pour out your emotions.

Sometimes it can be a simple text message like, ‘I’ve had a shitter of a day. Please bring wine on the way home!’

Says it all really doesn’t it.

#6. Toxic positivity is a thing

I came across the term ‘toxic positivity’ and I immediately rolled my eyes and groaned that I can’t even put a happy face on anymore!

But I was intrigued and read more about toxic positivity and I realised it’s so important to acknowledge. 

Toxic positivity is where you put on a happy face and pretend everything is fine without acknowledging that you feel sad. It’s where you push all your sad feelings aside because you don’t feel like you’re allowed to feel them.

I think lockdown has seen a huge rise in toxic positivity with people saying, ‘Well, we’re lucky, it could be worse, other people are much worse off…’

And it’s true.

For myself at least, I’m so lucky. But just because I’m lucky doesn’t mean I can’t feel sad about lockdown, about the isolation, feeling overwhelmed with three children at home, homeschooling a reluctant child and for losing my whole business and all my clients overnight.

Yes, there are lots of people who’ve had it worse but that doesn’t mean you need to pretend everything is OK for fear of upsetting someone who is having a worse time than you.

Acknowledge the sad thoughts without feeling like you need to be a happy little bunny all the time.

#7. I’ve learnt to garden

Back to a more lighthearted topic. I’ve learnt to garden. I haven’t actually put many of my learnings into practice yet but I’ve done a hell of a lot of research! Even just researching gardening brings me so much joy. 

I knew I really wanted to plant a vegetable garden after reading Ikigai: The Japanese art to a long and happy life. One of the reasons Japanese people are believed to be happy and live longer lives is because many of them tend to their own vegetable gardens. Even very old people have vegetable gardens and it’s thought that the combination of gentle exercise, healthy veggies, homegrown produce, being outdoors, being sociable, feeling productive and having a purpose each day is what contributes towards a longer life. Now if that doesn’t sound like a reason to have a veggie plot, I don’t know what is!

#8. I’ve learnt to stop impulse shopping

Before lockdown began I would buy something almost everyday via Amazon Prime or some other online site. As soon as I thought, ‘Oh, I need one of those!’ I would have ordered it and have it delivered within 24 hours. I barely ever stopped to think about whether I really needed it or not.

But during lockdown I lost most of my work so I had to be careful about spending and I barely shopped online (except for food) at all.

And do you know what? The world hasn’t ended and I’ve realised I don’t need half the things I thought I needed to be instantly delivered to my door!

#9. I’ve learnt to do online food shops

Pre-lockdown I couldn’t get my head around online food shopping. I tried a few times but it took me so long and I forgot almost everything so I found it much easier to just drive to the shops! But now I’m an online food shopping ninja. I meal-plan and everything!

#10. I’ve learnt I can do a lot less than I thought

Contradicting what I said about liking to be busy, I have learnt that I don’t need to do everything. I’ve barely worked for a year and my business hasn’t fallen apart completely and I’ve realised that every single household chore can wait until I’m ready to do it. I don’t always need to rush around like a headless chicken because no one cares if I change the beds today, tomorrow or next week.

#11. I’ve learnt to share my messy, weird, imperfect world

Pre-lockdown I didn’t really share much online about my life at home. I was always busy sharing my travels – travels that were perfectly planned and organised and each photo was staged and perfected.

I didn’t share my home life because I feared it would be boring, messy and imperfect, but sharing my everyday life has been such a turning point for me as a blogger. It’s wonderful for me to share these everyday moments and find people who can relate or help or share something similar. And my everyday posts get way more views and so much more engagement because it’s all something that people can relate to.

I shared a post last week about my garden and it’s had way more views that many of my travel posts ever did! And I’ve been chatting online about making bin juice and more people are chatting to me about that than any holiday!

#12. I’ve learnt that excessive organising helps me feel calm – and that’s OK!

Mum hacks - best Amazon buys
My Filofax always comes out when I’m feeling stressed!

It took me a really long time to recognise this. And even longer to embrace it!

I go through phases where I have an overwhelming urge to declutter and tidy and organise. I usually get a new planner and write lists and mark dates and…generally try and get really organised. 

During lockdown I realised that I do this when I feel out of control.

It’s like nesting for an expectant mother. Before a baby arrives you often want to tidy and clean and organise in preparation for your new baby arriving, but it also gives you a feeling of control during a situation you have no control over!

#13. We still live in a very racist world

Among all the online chat about lockdown and Coronavirus, there has been a lot of online chat about racism. And I will hold my hands up and admit that it wasn’t long ago that I thought the world wasn’t really that racist anymore. I thought that because I’m not racist, other people weren’t either.

It’s an uncomfortable truth but we still live in a very racist world that is dominated by white people. Social media is an incredible platform giving marginalised people a voice and it’s our responsibility to listen and take action.

#14. I’ve learnt to find an identity that didn’t revolve around travel

My life has revolved around travel ever since I left to go backpacking as a fresh-faced 21 year old. It was my hobby, my love and my career and everything I did revolved around travel.

And then travel was pulled away from me and I had a real identity crisis. Who was I if I wasn’t a traveller?

It was a difficult time but I no longer feel like travel defines who I am as a person. I mean, I still have no idea who I am as a person, but I know it doesn’t 100% revolve around travel. I’ve found alternative hobbies and things to occupy my mind. I’ve found work that isn’t travel related and I can see how my life will progress is travel isn’t at the centre of everything I do.

#15. I’ve learnt which social media accounts make me happy

I’m sure we’ve all spent way too much time scrolling through social media over the past year. I quickly realised that some accounts made me feel really shitty while other accounts gave me an instant boost of joy. 

I know everyone comes to social media for different things but during lockdown I’ve used it to fill that void that I lost through face-to-face interactions. I’ve loved following people who overshare and seem authentic and honest online. It feels like a friend sharing snippets from their daily lives and I really needed that during some of the lonely months of lockdown.

1 Comment
  1. Veronika 7 months ago
    Reply

    Beautiful lessons, Monica, and many I can identify with myself! Let’s apply the lessons learned forward, but at the same time fingers crossed we can experience some normalcy again!

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