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The words “lockdown” made my heart race. The pulsing musical beat of Sky news repeating the government lockdown rules over and over again gave me anxiety as I have never experienced and the frightening statistics of COVID-19 made me feel sick with fear and worry. Despite the exhausting new procedures we have had to implement into our daily lives to avoid contracting the Coronavirus, I am strangely sad to be saying goodbye to the quarantine life we’ve become accustomed to over the past 10 weeks here in the Czech Republic, and secretly I wish the lockdown didn’t have to end.
Entering the quarantine life
On the 12th March 2020, Andrej Babis (the current PM of the Czech Republic) announced the Czech Republic was to enter a state of emergency for 30 days. Since that day, our lives have been turned upside down and 10 weeks later we are only beginning to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.
The Czech Republic was one of the first few governments to declare a state of emergency before the country had recorded any Coronavirus deaths, a move that has put the country and how it handled the containment of the virus into the world’s media spotlight.
With immediate effect, the borders closed to high-risk countries such as Italy. Government officials mandated the closure of all sports facilities and pubs, restaurants and cafes could only open from 8 pm to 6 am. It was the beginning of the end. Just four days later everything closed, the city went into hibernation as the Government enforced a full 2 weeks quarantine for the entire country. We were not to leave our homes for anything that was non-essential, so only necessary trips to the doctor, to go food shopping or travel to work if you could not work from home was allowed. Thankfully, we were permitted to go outside for outdoor exercise, a luxury our family in Italy didn’t have. Face masks were made mandatory to wear in all public spaces, including going to the park.
Since the 12th of March, every aspect of our daily lives has changed. Simple tasks we once took for granted such as going food shopping, going to work (or not as the case turns out but that is a different story), going to the gym or just going for a walk to the park with Logan stopped completely. I remember waking up on the first day of lockdown, standing outside on our terrace and it being eerily quiet. We have a huge overpass close to the house and normally you can the hum of cars or the rattling of the trains passing through on the railway line underneath. But there was nothing. The city fell silent and images on the local news of an empty Prague which is normally teeming with tourists looked unrecognisable.
Adapting to Life in Prague During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Like most people, we spent the first week of quarantine life trying to learn what we could and could not do. Although we were in a state of emergency, generally speaking, life wasn’t that much different for us, with the exception of Leo working from home permanently.
We remained in constant contact with our families on WhatsApp and every day we’d speak about the ever-changing situations in each of our countries. Leo’s family were already under quarantine in Italy and my family in the UK were preparing for similar measures to be implemented. We lived in blissful unawareness of the outside world and carried on with life “as normal”.
Week two was a little more challenging. Our food stock in the house was low, and Leo began complaining of lower back pain from sitting and working at the dinner table instead of a proper work desk.
Queue the masses ordering everything online!
Delivery slots from our online food delivery service became non-existent. In fact, we spent the next 2 weeks sitting in front of the laptop at 9 pm waiting for slots to open whenever we needed a food delivery. We ordered Leo a new desk, screen and chair from IKEA (oh IKEA our saviour – the first of multiple deliveries) and our living room transformed into a mini-office.
When we couldn’t get food delivery, Leo or I would venture out to the supermarket which gave us a short break of fresh air (if you can call breathing through a mask or scarf in my case “fresh air”). Days started to drag, lounge wear and pyjamas became our daily attire and getting dressed to go to the supermarket became a new novelty.
Celebrating Logan’s first birthday in quarantine
We had big plans for Logan’s first birthday which fell in the 3rd week of quarantine. We wanted to celebrate this huge milestone amongst family and friends, but family members flights were cancelled and social distancing and lockdown didn’t allow for a party.
We improvised the best we could considering the circumstances. Our family all video called in to watch him blow out his candle, my sister sent us a birthday cake from England IN THE POST (and it survived) and we ordered in helium balloons and birthday banners from amazon. We even did a makeshift cake smash!
Logan has always enjoyed being outdoors, even from a young age. Since we couldn’t go to the park, we thought a fitting gift for a boy who has everything would be a swing we could put outside in the garden so we could at least allow him some fun when the weather allowed in a safe and virus free environment. It was a hard pill to swallow being our first child and not being able to celebrate his first birthday the way we had dreamed and hoped but we comfort ourselves with the thought – he won’t know any different anyway!
Why I secretly want lockdown to continue
Despite all the reasons I wanted to escape lockdown and the exhausting worry of catching the virus, having to clean everything with rubbing alcohol that enters our home and not being able to go out or come and go as we please, there is one big thing I will miss now the state of emergency has ended and we are no longer in lockdown.
Ironically it is freedom
Quarantine life has given us a different kind of freedom that our normal daily lives takes away. Quarantine life has given us a much needed relaxed lifestyle with the freedom to do what we want, how we want.
Sure I miss our friends and I miss our Sunday lunches out. I miss being able to do the food shopping without spending an hour at home cleaning every damn piece of packing before we store it away. And I miss my family. The thought of not seeing either of our families for a long time (both families are high risk) is a painful reality both my husband and I are having to deal with.
BUT so there have been so many positive things that have come out of being locked down at home and since we’ve had to adapt to so many new rules and ways of living, to our surprise, it has actually improved our lives in ways we would never have imagined.
No bra. No chemicals. Less washing.
Pyjamas have become my everyday clothing. I haven’t worn a bra in almost 2 months except for the handful of occasions I have gone shopping or ventured out for a solitary walk. Some days I’ve even gone 3 or 4 days without washing my hair and I don’t even remember the last time I put on any make-up. And would you believe….my hair, nails and my skin are glowing! My hair hasn’t been this healthy in years, I haven’t had a breakout and my skin isn’t anywhere near as dry as it used to be. Why? Because there is no need to comply with all the societal constraints I felt I had to comply to before such as wearing make-up, looking presentable or dressing a certain way.
There is no FOMO and we are free of being BUSY
Pre-quarantine we would sit down on a Sunday evening and plan our weekly schedule. Who would be where, who’s going to the gym on what morning, who is going to the office, doing the shopping, taking Logan to the doctor etc etc etc. Amongst all of our normal chores we would try to fit in some social time with our friends, attend events, parties or lunches. But quite often, we’d have to skip them because we were TOO BUSY.
During quarantine, we were free of FOMO (the fear of missing out) because quite literally, there was nothing to miss out on. We were free of being busy because our lives revolved around our home. There was no toing and froing from the office, the gym, the supermarkets, the dry cleaners, the dentist, the doctor. No longer was I checking my diary every two minutes to make sure I wasn’t missing meetings, coffee dates or calls. I simply crossed everything off the calendar. Everything stopped and now we have to restart again it feels exhausting.
Free of feeling guilty about doing NOTHING
Pre-quarantine, our diaries would be filled. Every hour of the day was assigned to something. Now my diary is empty. The constant pressure to do things, to achieve, to compete, to turn up to everything, to have a full diary – had been removed and it was a huge relief.
Some days I have sat in my pyjamas and watched TV all day (going to be honest – its mostly kid cartoons with my son). Some days we’ve sat in the garden and some days we’ve played Lego or puzzles with Logan, gone for a walk and just vegged out. Why do we feel the need to fill every moment of every day? What is wrong with spending time idling or pottering around with no real plans? The beauty of doing nothing during quarantine? There is no guilt because after all, there isn’t much else to do.
We eat better and spend less
When online shopping deliveries became as rare as unicorn poop, we began writing a weekly meal plan together for our lunches and dinners so when we sat down to do the food shopping online, we ordered everything we needed for the week to avoid using multiple delivery slots or having to go out. While we did go out for food shopping, it was only if we really needed to or we couldn’t get the meat we required online (because there was a shortage for a few weeks).
We’ve always been big home-cooked meals people, but our quarantine life has taught us to better plan our meals and in turn, we’ve eaten healthier meals because we aren’t scrambling last minute to find something to eat (which quite often was a take out). Our food bill has gone down by a third because we did one shop a week opposed to multiple shops on the way home from the office (where the off box of chocolates, biscuits, wine etc would fall into the shopping basket!).
We’ve bonded as a family unit
We have been very fortunate that my husband’s job allows him to work from home. In fact, Leo has been working from home 3 to 4 days a week since our son was born in April 2019. But since we’ve been living in quarantine, we’ve enjoyed more quality family time together. Because we are no longer busy, because we are running fewer errands and have fewer commitments, we have more free time and less stress.
To put it quite simply, we enjoy the simple pleasures of life as a family. Lunches together, a family walk on the weekend has become an event we look forward to and never enjoyed before. No doubt our son thoroughly enjoys having us both at home to run after him, and I’d even go as far as saying he’s much more content these days and is even sleeping better then he was before. Coincidence?
I’ve become more productive and learnt new skills
With no commitments, no job to go to (the company I worked for was sadly a COVID-19 victim) I’ve gained a lot of free time back that I didn’t have before. I have had time to do the things I actually want to do, opposed to the things I HAD to do, and as such, I have become more productive because I look forward to doing the things I plan to do instead of dreading them and procrastinating.
I’ve made and mastered new weaning recipes for Logan’s meals, so he’s been eating healthier meals too. I enjoy cooking but never had the time to do it before.
I’ve taken an SEO course to better my skills so I can improve this blog, I’ve had time to implement what I have learnt instead of having a notebook of things to do.
My forever growing “to-do list” has surprisingly shrunk during quarantine because I have finally gotten time to do those mundane tasks I always accidentally on purpose had forgotten to do.
We’ve had to temporarily stop our cleaner coming to the house because of the virus, so we’ve had to *shock* actually do the house cleaning ourselves. To my horror, I’ve actually found it quite enjoyable and I’ve even invested in some new cleaning tools to make life easier. I’ve actually felt a great deal of satisfaction from cleaning instead of paying someone else to do it because we were to busy to do it ourselves. You could say I’m well on my way to becoming the next Mrs Hinch!
An ode to our simple life
Lockdown really taught us a few really valuable life lessons and we’ve really enjoyed our simple, less hurried, less stressful lives. I do hope that at least a few of our new habits will continue in our post lockdown lives and I’ll be forever thankful for the pause the lockdown has given us in our lives.
Did you benefit from being in lockdown or are you still in lockdown? What has your experience been? Would you stay in lockdown if you could? Answer me in the comments below!