I am trying hard not to complain about lockdown, and focus on what I can do, rather than what I can’t.
Mix in bleak weather, Brexit and a mind-boggling US election, and it’s hardly a recipe for joy. So, in the interests of battering down anxiety and shrinking stress, I’m attempting to look on the bright side. Teeth gritting optional.
Above all, I’m lucky enough to have avoided coronavirus so far. It’s dreadful that a second lockdown is needed, with so many people ill.
My husband and I are also very lucky to be able to work from home, when so many others have seen their income wiped out.
Lockdown then and now
Right now, I’m trying to be glad that lockdown #2 isn’t quite so, well, locked down.
The schools are still open, a cause for great celebration for both me and my children. After our attempts at distance learning earlier this year, they’re delighted to be back with their friends. Any clamours for home schooling have disappeared. All hail teachers.
Normally, I work from home in glorious peace. So back in March, suddenly having my husband and kids around 24/7 was a shock to the system. Juggling my own work with supervising school work was no fun at all.
Also: lunches. Everyone kept wanting food! So I’m chalking school dinners up as a blessing.
Food itself was hassle first time round, because we started off by self-isolating almost completely, and didn’t go to any shops. As supermarket delivery slots became rarer than hen’s teeth, it led to some fairly strange meals. This time, I’m more comfortable nipping out for essentials, with a face mask at the ready.
There’s no restriction on the number of times we can head outside for exercise, so I won’t have to feel guilty about walking the dog more than once a day.
I’m glad I’m allowed to go out and meet one other person outside, and that over 60s haven’t been ordered to stay indoors. It means I can check in with my mum and hopefully my husband can see his parents too, even if individually.
Budget activities during lockdown
Lockdown in bleak mid winter seems distinctly less attractive than back when the sun was shining.
Maybe this time I can attempt all the things I meant to do last lockdown, and never actually managed? A bit like rerunning New Year’s Resolutions all over again.
Being stuck at home, with the entire leisure and travel sectors shut down, does restrict opportunities to spend money.
So in case it’s useful for anyone else, here are some of my ideas for lockdown activities without breaking the bank:
- Shed some Covid kilos. You’d have a thought a global pandemic would finally encourage me to lose weight but no, I’ve been taking solace in biscuits. Time to eat more healthily and encourage the kids to get cooking too. Plus, I ordered a cheese thermometer during the last lockdown and it would be fun to use it as more than dust trap.
- Start running again. (This really is like January, isn’t it?) If we can’t travel far, I can at least bung on my trainers and stagger along the railway walk.
- Decluttering. Our home contains Too Much Stuff and we’d all be happier with less of it around.
- Home improvements. The children’s rooms need redecorating really badly. Now we’re stuck at home, we can think about wallpapers and paint colours, and pick the carpets and light fittings we’ve been meaning to do since moving in. Measure the kitchen and dream of replacing it. After all, planning is free.
- Board games. As our stay in the ‘no electricity’ yurt reminded us, we do actually enjoy playing cards and board games together. So I could insist on forced family fun, or, if that fails, just play with the Lego myself.
- Gardening. It’s like the lunches – relentless. Fast as I do weeding/pruning/clearing it grows again. Well ha! Not so fast in winter. I can take out general fury hacking stuff back, plant some of the bulbs that are sitting around making me feel guilty, and research winter crops and garden planning. We did a hasty trip to the tip this week, in case it was shut during lockdown, so now have empty garden waste bags again. Fun times.
- Make stuff. I know perfectly well that I get more out of making stuff in the evenings than sitting slumped in front of the TV. (See: bunting) Time to drag down the sewing machine and unearth my embroidery thread.
- Tackle my new-to-me phone. I’ve finally bowed to the inevitable, and found a replacement for my elderly mobile handset. A brave new world awaits, where I actually have enough storage space to load new apps. Once I take it out of the box and order a new SIM card, of course. Got to be worth it, if only to start on TikTok and embarrass my 12-year-old.
- Language learning. What the hell, let’s chuck in some more self-improvement stuff. I’m still doing flute lessons by Zoom, but today I signed up for free Spanish lesson on Duolingo, egged on by cutesy cartoon characters. Anyone want to join me?
- Reconnecting. I miss having people round and friends to stay. Instead, I could at least call people to catch up – I quite fancy old style phone calls rather than staring at myself on Zoom.
- Cope with Christmas. The month around Christmas is also a complete car crash of family birthdays for us. I went on a frantic birthday card buying spree yesterday. Maybe this year I can finally become super organised, nail my present list, and buy/make/wrap/post it all well in advance. I’d love to support local businesses too – shopping will be tricky but several places on our high street are doing click and collect. Then I can clear time for the bits of Christmas I actually enjoy.
- Financial admin. Dark and rainy outside? Perfect opportunity to stay indoors, nail my tax return, do a decent budget and try to translate my patchwork of pension saving into a retirement plan. Short pause to consider the joy of ever submitting my tax return without a January panic. Rock ‘n’ roll.
- Blogging. I’ve really struggled to write recently, while coronavirus drives an even deeper divide between those in dire financial straits, whose income has disappeared, and those who are even saving money, still earning without any commuting costs. Few of my ideas have made it as far as pressing ‘publish’. I need to get posting again, get my head round giveaway rules and find out how on earth to attach printables.
- Take part in #FoodBankAdvent. This will be the fourth year I’d done a reverse advent calendar to support a local food bank, as a Christmas campaign with other UK Money Bloggers. It’s more important than ever this year, with so many more people struggling to feed their families. Will you be taking part too? (More info here and here).
After typing out my virtuous if unrealistic intentions, I now feel distinctly cheerful. Lockdown? Bring it on.
Now – over to you. Anything you can look forward to doing during this second lockdown? What are your favourite budget activities during lockdown? Do share in the comments, I’d love to hear!