Eimear Hutchinson: The lessons I'll take away from lockdown

Eimear Hutchinson says there were lots of lessons to be learned from lockdown - some worth hanging onto as we try to return to some level of normal family life
Eimear Hutchinson: The lessons I'll take away from lockdown

One of the most enjoyable things during lockdown for Eimear and her family was being able to get out and explore their local forrest. Pictrure: Stock

IT’S a funny one isn’t it, how quickly we can adapt to a new way of life. I throw my mind back a few weeks when we were in the depths of lockdown and I remember how excited I was for the end of it all. I was eager for the opportunity to be able to get out, to see friends and most importantly to see family again.

Now we are well into Phase 3, we have had days out to the beach, discovered new forests, gone into a coffee shop, got to a restaurant for dinner and made it to Sligo for the all important family meet up. And I am thrilled by it all, by the freedom but, there is always a but, I have to admit I miss a little slice of our lockdown life.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not, under any circumstances, want to go back to a situation where we are in lockdown again, the circumstances under which that would occur would mean widespread hardship and heartbreak for everyone. However, a part of me wants to emulate the aspects of lockdown we came to enjoy, to keep in place the things we relished. I don’t want to forget those parts because, despite it all, we were happy in our own little bubble, away from the pressures of the outside world.

I think there was a lesson to be learned, maybe several, for lots of us after the last few months of isolation. We were given the opportunity to move at a slower pace and on a personal level that was no harm. Our days revolved around the basics – food and immediate family. Our meal times increased in duration when there were no demands on us to be tearing out the door to school or GAA practise or swimming lessons and that was honestly wonderful. The girls got involved in our food preparation, learning new skills from breaking eggs to policing over equal licking rights of the spoon at the end of making a chocolate cake.

We got outside because we were blessed with such good weather, discovering new routes in our local forest. We could hear the birds singing, clear as day in the absence of background noise from cars. Our walks were slower, we stopped to examine flowers, to watch birds hop, to pick out different leaves and to paddle in the streams. In what I call our ‘alternative life’ now I would have almost always felt like I had to be somewhere or to do something; get uniforms ready, do the shopping, get to a playdate, but during lockdown there was none of that. That feeling of giving the girls all the time in the day to discover nature was truly one of the biggest highlights over the last few months.

Our vegetable patch became a family affair this year, I had help from little hands to plant all my seeds and to water them and to weed. Together we have watched the seeds become shoots, shoots become plants and in the last couple of weeks we have excitedly watched our strawberries, tomatoes, peas, beans, courgettes and cucumber start to flower. There is lovely lesson in patience when it comes to growing your own vegetables and during lockdown we had all the patience in the world.

What I also found very interesting was that, given the chance, the girls discovered new hobbies and talents that I am sure they would never had had the time or the opportunity to do so if it wasn’t for being ‘bored’. My eldest actually asked me if she could do less after school activities once normality resumes because she enjoyed having time to do her own thing and I thought that was brilliant. I was running around every evening ferrying them from one activity to another based on what I thought they should do – GAA so they could be part of the community, tennis for the hand eye coordination but considering they never once picked up one of their tennis rackets during the course of being at home that is one activity I can rub off the list of things we will resume.

And it would be remiss of me to say that not all aspects of lockdown life were rosy. I know for absolute certainty that when it came to my CAO application all those years ago I was right not to put teaching down as my first choice. Our enthusiastic start at home schooling began to wain come May and by the middle of June it had completely petered out. And do you know what that’s ok too, I’m not going to weigh myself down with guilt when some days were spent just trying to get through, we missed friends and family because as humans we are by our very nature social.

So there were lots of lessons to be taken from hopefully one of the most unusual experiences we will be placed in in our lifetimes, where the world ground to a halt and all we had was time.

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