STOP…BREATHE…PLAN: some thoughts on managing this winter lockdown

So here we are, the place none of us wanted to be but knew deep down was going to happen: full winter lockdown. Last spring the only saving grace of the first lockdown was the weather. This time around, well to say the weather’s not likely to help is an understatement.

I don’t know about you but last night I was stressed, sad, cross and despairing all wrapped up in a healthy dose of ‘what will we do?’. The short notice changes, the need to respond and adapt to quickly changing expectations and restrictions, the next day ‘no school until half term’ fear is hard to get your head around and even harder to manage.

Today, I’m feeling a bit different, still worried, still a bit overwhelmed and definitely sad for the kids but I have a plan and having a plan always helps me feel better whatever the circumstances.

In the midst of chaos and competing demands and unknowns; in the middle of needing to organise the changing logistics of lockdown life and try and look after the emotional wellbeing of everyone in the house: I’m going back to the first lockdown and what I learnt about what worked for us as a family.

I know that I say this all the time but stopping and consciously reflecting can really help. The stress and anxiety that a full winter lockdown is likely to bring doesn’t help us get our thoughts in order, it doesn’t help us feel organised and if you’re like me, organisation will be the key to getting through this.

Kids, work, me, family, house, worry; they all need space and time in my head and my day but if I’m fully in the emotional response to the situation, I won't be able to find any moments of calm or sense of control.

So, wherever you find a moment in your day where you’re not being pulled in many directions either by thoughts or by demands of your circumstances i.e. kids at home, work emails binging in and phone calls filled with worry and anxiety. Try and stop, breathe and think.

Think about what worked for you and your family in the last lockdown.

The big themes I’ve got to for us are:

Don’t try and multi task

  • I get stressed, the kids don’t get enough attention and so become harder work, I never feel like I’ve done any of it properly

  • Put down my phone when I’m with the kids- it really does help us all have a better day!

Having a loose structure so we all feel a level of predictablity in our day is really helpful

  • General rules around getting dressed before 9.30/10

  • School work is in the morning, after lunch is more free time for games etc. for the kids and so I can do some work

  • Rob and I agree what we each need and how we can make the logistics work around what we need to do

(I am really aware that we are lucky to both work for ourselves and so have more flexibility around this. You may not have the flexibility but I’d still encourage you to think about which tasks can be shifted to which parts of the day given you know when your family’s ‘sweet spots’ are most likely to be)

Accepting that there will be more screen time and the decision to be ok about this

  • At some point we all need to get things done that aren’t focussed on the kids; if screens means we can do that and feel less stressed in the time we do spend with the kids, then for us, that’s a compromise I’m willing to make

Prioritizing time for me and for Rob away from the kids.

  • We won’t be able to get away for a lovely night off anytime soon but we can prioritise taking advantage of going to the shops solo (and walking the long way round!) or our exercise with one other person outside the home

  • I know this helps me feel more ok, I also know I’m not always good at prioritising this so I’m going to try hard to do that differently because I know it’ll help with lots of other things

And that’s it. I’m sure yours might be different but I thinks its helpful to think about it.

Some key things to focus on in the five minutes, hour or whatever chunk of time you can find are:

How do we as a family best organise our time in lockdown-

  • What has to happen at particular points in time?

  • What can be flexible?

  • When naturally suits different activities?

What is non-negotiable in what needs to happen in a day?

  • For you?

  • For your partner?

  • For the kids?

What good stuff helps you all feel good (even in a winter lockdown)?

  • How realistic is it to get this into your daily or weekly routine?

  • How can you make sure you prioritise this?

What ideally do you need to be able to do to feel ok?

  • Is it a bit of exercise?

  • Is it a specific bit of the day where you get quiet to concentrate and work?

  • Is it time out of the house?

  • Is it protected Zoom time with friends?

And once you’ve got some thoughts about all of this, the next step is planning- how can you fit these activities and responsibilities into a day that is going to be very different from the last few months and, let’s face it quite different to the last lockdown due to lots of reasons. Not least the impact of no sunshine restricting how often we can just chuck the kids outside for a run around!

This may not make everything easy, it might not solve all the stress, but I do think that having a sense of what works for you and how to fit it into your personal circumstances can stop the cycle of anxiety and feeling of 'fire fighting' that we’re likely to get caught up in during this lockdown.

There’s some resources in the file share section of the website from the last lockdown that might be helpful: a reflective form, some action plan forms, some ideas on how to think about getting the feelings that you miss from different activities that you can do without having the opportunity to do what you really want to do!

I’m sure I’ll be back because last time, this blog was a place of respite and calm for me in the midst of the daily stress, so if your interested in hearing more burbling’s from me, follow the blog and hopefully you’ll get updates as they come in ( no promises for regular updates- they’ll happen when I can make them happen, realistic goals remember!)

Thanks for reading- good luck!


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