The first 15 days of lockdown has been surprisingly a lot easier to deal with than I imagined. I’m living in Valencia, Spain, with my husband and two daughters. This means we can only leave our 250m2 apartment, one adult, at a time, for essential requirements, food and pharmaceuticals. We don’t have the luxury of time out for independent exercise, like some other countries.
Despite this it’s ok. In fact, I’d say the love and appreciation of my husband over the last 2 weeks has increased. My kids, 6 and 9, are ever-present, yet still, we have been bonding as a family unit.
My husband and I are the parents, the teachers, the personal trainers, the chefs, the playmates the medicos, the dance instructors. In a lot of ways, we’re just stepping up to slightly more significant roles. It’s not all new just more intensive and without breaks. Only a few weeks ago I would have said, it takes a village to raise a child, now I know, when pushed, it only takes a household.
We are trying to bring the world in, but everything still requires our involvement. We stream in music lessons and PE with Joe every morning. We have our friends on a video Messenger roster system. Australians or antipodeans in the morning, Europeans in the afternoon. In between, we try to get schooling done and squeeze work in where ever it can fit. It is the least of my priorities, but it carries on, slowly. Which is perfect for right now.
I only launched my brand launched Chiqui Alta month ago. .I design and produce beautiful Spanish handmade leather flats in bigger sizes EU39 to 46 (US 7 to 14). It’s all in the timing they say, so that sucks!
I’m lucky the couriers are still working and come to my door. They’re always hospitable, standing at least two meters away with their masks and their gloves on. I almost throw the boxes to them, and we have a laugh. As they leave, I am thankful and envious of those still working out in the world right now.
Right now, I’m hanging onto the quote– “You can’t calm the storm. Instead, try and calm yourself. The storm will pass.” Buddha (I think).
Wherever the words come from they speak to me. Despite this being a bloody long storm. In this situation, there is so much out of control. Not just my shoe business, but:
- my 80-year-old mother, a world away, who refuses help and insists on going to the butcher and fruit shop.
- The number of people dying.
- The number of people not heading the pleas to stay home.
- The lack of understanding on this subject
- The oversupply of information that there is no other topic
- The failure of governments to heed the instructions provided by the WHO two months ago
Breathe! That’s what I can’t control.
What I can control is my household. Not in totality, I can’t control my husband or my kids, but I can be a calm role-model for my two girls. I can choose to remain motivated, have a positive attitude and try to make the best of being in isolation.
Some of the ways I stay motivated include:
Every day I get up, get dressed, put my shoes on. It might be that I’m a shoe designer, or that when I was bought up, this was an adage in my family to get ready before breakfast. It might also be partly George Costanza’s fault. The tracksuit scene from Seinfeld is embedded in my brain. Whatever the reason, I refuse to spend my days in track pants and slippers. The sound of shuffling across the floor just drives me mental.
I can’t wear tracksuits or slippers all day. No way. I’ve not given up.
Video: Seinfeld scene with Goerge Costanza in trackies that has been cemented in my brain.
It seems I’m not the only one. I rolled across the floor laughing, this morning, when I read an Instagram post from @brokedirtyblonde
https://www.instagram.com/brokedirtyblonde/. She says:
“There is only one reason people who work from home get dressed: it’s because you can do f*ck all in a dressing gown. 🙈
I nearly set myself on fire twice, got caught on various door handles and bannisters, nearly resulting in whiplash and my belt dangled in the toilet post wee.”
Image: Instagram @Brokedirtyblonde taking out the trash, and avoiding the hazards of dressing down at home.
My daughters have taken dressing up also. They’re into wearing my high-heels pretty much all day long. I don’t mind. If it means they’re happy and focused on their little worlds, I feel reassured they’re not thinking about the storm outside.
Right now, my dress-up shoes are my soft butter leather ballet flats. I am grateful to have them. I alternate them daily for variety. There's a pair at the front door to wear outside. They’re easy to slip on to go on the essential runs to the local grocery store. I don’t have to deal with touching laces and or struggling to put my shoes on. I can just slip my feet in (or out), and I’m good to go.
I also have a couple of pairs for inside.
I can wear them all day. They’re easy like slippers and keep my feet off the hard floors and yet give me a slightly polished edge, as though I care. This helps me psychologically. It reminds me I’m still working as the most critical person in my girls’ lives, more than ever, right now. My Hightails also tell me that I’ve not given up like George Costanza.
Along with my ballet flats, I also prefer to wear either jeans, stretchy tailored trousers, flowy wide-leg comfortable pants or even black drop crouch ¾ length pants. Anything that is not a tracksuit.
Having a few goals for each day is also really helping. For my peace-of-mind, I’m trying to take it day by day. I start each morning by asking what everyone wants to get done that day. If my youngest wants to bake a cake or my eldest wants to House Party her friends, we try to make it happen. If we get some school work done, play a few family games, fit some exercise in and some alone time for everyone - we all feel good.
Also, if we don’t get things done, we roll them over.
I’ve heard people getting upset about homeschooling their kids and what a stress it is going to be. I kind of expected it to be horrible, but actually it’s been fun. I’m getting to know my children better, and in ways I don’t know them. Also, we are living in a confined space in Spain. I think if I was in a big house with a garden, I could easily let my girls go jump on the trampoline all day, but I don’t have that here. We’re all adapting.
There’s some role-playing going on in our house too. When school starts at our home, my kids call me “Mrs Cid,” and they love it. This little twist helps me also. When I’m more like a teacher, they know the boundaries are the same as at school.
To make the transition from mum to the teacher every morning, we get in a pretend car and drive to school. When the journey ends, I wave good-bye and drive off and then Ms Cid, their teacher arrives.
It’s all pretty light-hearted and fun. If they call me mum during school time, I say, “she can’t help you, she’s not here,” we laugh, and they ask me again as the teacher.
My friend Gemma said she is playing a drinking game at home. When ever someone says “mum,” she has a drink. At least as Ms Cid I get a few hours reprieve.
I’m not sure how long we’ll be in lockdown for. If we need to spend more time inside to decrease the peak of the virus and save lives, I’m good with that. The short-term pain is worth it, and there is a silver lining to spending more time with your family (and not spreading deadly contagion).
I’ll no doubt have to relaunch my shoes again, and they may take longer to sell than expected, but it’s kind of insignificant in the scheme of trying to make my mother stay at home and my kids feel safe and loved.
I don’t know what the next 15 days has in store for us. I hope my deepest fears don’t come true and shortly this will be all a distant memory, where we learnt to slow down and appreciate each other some more.
And although it might seem long, I do know, this storm will pass.
Take care. Stay Home. Stay Safe.