Rebecca Zosel is a Melbourne-based parent who’s experiencing a second COVID-19 lockdown and another stint of remote learning. She has three children aged 10, 8 and 3 years and wants you to know that you’re not alone in lockdown 2.0.
Going into lockdown for a second time in July, so soon after the first, came as a bit of a blow. The need for restrictions is clear, but there was an audible sigh across Melbourne when lockdown 2.0 was announced. People were asking ‘Why is this happening again so soon?’, ‘Were our previous efforts in vain?’, ‘Will this cycle of lockdown-relax-repeat keep happening until we have a vaccine?’
At the time of the initial announcement we had just emerged from almost 3 months of lockdown with a sense of accomplishment and excitement about what lay ahead in our ‘new normal’. We were looking forward to seeing our friends and family again and resuming some activities – but restrictions were reimposed quickly, and our excitement dissolved as recently made plans had to be cancelled, and instead we braced ourselves for another stint of physical isolation, working from home and remote learning.
Many of us approached the first lockdown with enthusiasm and even had some positives emerge from the experience (Our life at home during lockdown). But this second lockdown is harder. People are tired, and this time the whole of Australia isn’t in it together – now, if we turn to social media we can see our loved ones who live in other parts of the country dining in restaurants, celebrating together, and going to work and school. This makes lockdown much more isolating this time, and the cold Melbourne weather doesn’t help. Plus, this lockdown keeps evolving and now has much tighter restrictions – mandatory masks, curfew and more.
But all is not lost. You are not in this alone. Take strength from the strong sense of optimism and resolve in the community – we may have to dig a little deeper this time, but we’ve done it before and we can do it again. And as I explain to my children, hopefully by locking us down further we can get out of this quicker.
One positive of entering a second lockdown so quickly after the first is that we can learn from our experiences and put some new strategies in place – perhaps we can thrive and not just survive, during lockdown 2.0.
Here is my advice for keeping healthy and happy during lockdown 2.0:
- Look after yourself. As parents, maintaining our health and wellbeing is more important than ever, particularly now that we live, work and play (and supervise our children’s schooling!) at home, with very little change of company or scenery. I try to get a good night’s sleep and go for a walk at the beginning of each day to create some space for myself, which helps to build my resilience for the day ahead.
- Manage your expectations. COVID-19 will be with us for some time, so approach this lockdown (and the pandemic in general) like a marathon, not a sprint – changes need to be sustained over time, so go easy and start small, and be kind to yourself.
- Have things to look forward to. Having something to look forward to makes us feel good. It might be reading a book, toasting marshmallows over the fire pit, or a virtual catch up with friends – different things will suit different people, and they may even be different from the things you enjoyed pre-covid.
- Stay connected. During the pandemic we must be physically distant, but it’s important to stay socially connected. Pick up your phone and call someone for a chat or set up a video call. Both myself and the kids have regular virtual catch ups with friends and family – it helps to keep us afloat.
- Accept the extra screen time. Children who are remote learning will be on screens for longer than usual. Accept this, and try to balance it by getting outdoors whenever possible. We have nominated Sundays as a technology free day in my family – so I can’t even pick up my phone!
- Support your children to hone a life skill – but only if you have the time, resources and motivation. During this lockdown my children are learning how to cook a family dinner from scratch – they have each chosen a meal (spaghetti meatballs for Oscar, and tacos for Liliana) and every week on their designated day they are cooking the meal with support from Mum and Dad. They will hopefully master it by the end of lockdown!
- Practice gratitude. At the dinner table every evening we reflect on our day and what we are grateful for. Everyone has a turn, including my 3-year-old, Edith. The children’s responses often surprise me and are a good reminder that the small things in life are often the most important.
- Document your experience. This is a unique time in our lives and indeed the world’s history. During the first lockdown my children completed a COVID-19 time capsule. During this lockdown we’re interviewing each other every few days to capture our experiences and thoughts in a wonderful video collage. I also keep a journal.
- Mix it up. I love hearing about how people are doing things differently during lockdown. Yes, routines are important, but so is spontaneity and what better time to get creative and have some fun. I recently cut my 8-year-old daughter’s hair and afterwards she asked if she could cut my hair….to her surprise I answered ‘yes’. And so, she did.
It’s not easy but hang in there, look after each other and be kind ?