“Once we’ve achieved what we have always wanted, we suddenly discover a new need, a new sense of something lacking. And so we travail on, in search of this new accomplishment, this new change-of-life, in the hope that, this time, the sense of contentment will be permanent…But then, when you have reached this new plateau of achievement you find yourself wondering: can you sustain this all now? Might it slip away from you? Or -worse yet – might you tire of it all, and discover that what you had in the past was actually what you wanted all along?” Douglas Kennedy -Temptation
I have not written for a long time for the main reason that lock down has really tested my limits, but, as well as and as a product of this, I have learnt some powerful lessons.
When people first started talking about the possibility of lock down, I honestly could not fathom it, and then when it did hit, full blown panic set it. I would go through these motions of, ‘what am I going to do?’ All the things in my life that I have built and created to keep me sane are being taken away from me. Seeing friends, the gym, my job to a certain degree, all of those interactions with people that I thrive on – gone, and my biggest fear: ‘how am I going to cope with my children?’ I would then get the guilt of ‘well, why can’t you cope just being at home with your kids? What’s wrong with me for feeling like this? I must be a bad person to panic about being at home with them that much?’ In those first few weeks I went into meltdown and was feeling jealous and angry at others – even very close friends who appeared to be enjoying aspects, scrolling through social media feeling bitter at people baking, and taking romantic walks and then again feeling self loathing at – ‘what was wrong with me? I should be OK, I love my family – why do I feel like this?’ It was from this though that I managed – through the patience of my friends and my beautiful children, to pull myself together. I have learnt so much and although it has been a painful journey I am starting to come out of the other side.
The first route out was a brutally honest conversation I had with a friend, through this friend they taught me that just because some people are doing something that I can’t do, or is different to me, does not make it a negative about me and that everyone is struggling in their own way and are finding ways to make it through. I have taken this advice to heart as I have spent time realising that I had been using this coping mechanism with everything in my life. Someone bakes some bread – ‘well I can’t’ cook so I am shit’. I needed to take the lessons learned from exercise and fitness – how I used to feel about that and the people that did it, I needed to apply that to all areas of life.
The other aspect that has helped was running. I had started running with a friend before and had enjoyed it but not really focused on it, it was more of an add on to the gym and a way to spend time with a friend. When lock down started – I truly thought that I could not run without this friend and that again sent me into a spiral of negativity. I then decided to try it, more as a way to take a break from the house, I also decided to run to music. Music is a very powerful motivator and I spent quite a substantial amount of time constructing a motivating playlist. I also got better running shoes (for those new to running and on a budget I highly recommend Adidas galaxy running trainer around £40), I then got a strap for my arm to track my distance – again this helps as I like to know how fast and have goals. I then started to go at 5pm and guess what? I loved it, and realised that I could go quite a lot faster with music. These small successes of beating my minute per mile, is what I needed to feel like I was achieving something, and the rush of getting faster and faster was a feeling that I have become a bit addicted to. I now run as often as I can – but have to be careful as novice runners like myself are prone to injuries especially if you try to push it too much. I recommend picking a good 5 k route and working on that until you are at a pace you are happy with then upping if from there. I also recommend the free adidas running app as it is so motivational and helps track progress effectively.
I also panicked about not being able to go to the gym as again I thought there would be no way I could maintain what I had gained through the gym – that it was the gym space, the equipment, the whole aspect of being in a different environment that was at the core of my drive. As time has passed I have realised that it doesn’t have to be like that – the motivation comes from inside – the space/place should not be at the heart. I have understood the power of simple body weight exercises, carving out a little space in your home, using youtube, finding routines that work. Press ups, jump squats, pull ups, dips on a bench, skipping are all amazing ways to build fitness and require so little. I knew that if I didn’t get some sort of routine with my fitness and adapt I really would be screwed, with the kids around it is harder, but I often get them to do Joe Wicks and I do it with them and then adapt, when Jon is home, I have made a space upstairs which i call my ‘home gym’, I have created my own routines and schedules and just up the reps or sets when you can’t up the weights. Heather Robertson is also an excellent trainer to follow on youtube – her work outs are simple and minimal talking.
My final ‘lesson’ and perhaps the most important one. Reasling that just ‘being’ with my children without having millions of activities and plans was not something to fear. I think deep down maybe I have hid from being a mum in part and hid behind work because I was scared that I wouldn’t be very good at it, I don’t bake, I am messy and lax about rules. I was forced, under lock down to actually reconnect with that side of me and find my own way. Being honest, it has pushed my patience to its limits and I have missed adult company, but I have found that my three little bears are the biggest teachers of all. They just want me, they don’t care if I am not good at something, they just want my time and for the first time in forever I have been able to give it to them. I still can’t bake, but I have also learnt so much about them and how good fun they can be,I am also a very good goalkeeper and great at being a dinosaur and attempting dance routines (I still can’t dance).
I believe that – for me and I know is true for society we are constantly searching for something, rushing around, trying to do better, have a goal, and aspects of that are great – but sometimes in all this searching you have missed your actual life, too busy going on to the next thing. Once I had got over, what felt like the microscope on my marriage and my parenting I have worked out that I am the only one who was judging, and that if I just take the pressure off I can get the joy out of the small things, and that I can just ‘be’ and enjoy my coffee, playing. I still have days where I am tearing my hair out and trying to juggle three little separate demands and trying to do my job has been very testing but I don’t need to be the top of the class, they don’t care – they think I am great and that is enough.
Thanks for reading – please get in touch with your lock down struggles, I can also share my workouts and running playlists if anyone is interested