Released On 22nd Nov 2020
Marion's blog: Bringing back play
At the start of lockdown, my husband bought a gaming PC. I couldn't work out why he wanted it - it has been years since he'd played computer games and 2 small daughters get in the way of time to do anything, but I left him to it and continued on my merry way.
As lockdown progressed and we settled into the manic shift scenarios we'd designed to cope with full time working and full time childcare (I worked 6-9am and 12.30-3.30pm and hubby did 8.30-12.30pm and 3-6pm or thereabouts and we looked after our girls in between) I found myself less inclined to want to play with my daughters and get involved in their games. I became more snappy and irritable and the glass of wine at the end of every day (rather than one or two nights a week pre-lockdown) became something I relished.
Then, after lockdown 1.0 had lifted and schools had gone back after the summer break, I reached breaking point and was signed off work for a couple of weeks. The culmination of everything that's happened in 2020 got too much to bear and I couldn't keep going the way I was... Something gave.
I felt like the last few months were totally consumed with spinning the plates of work, childcare, teacher, entertainer, chef, PE teacher, cleaner and so on, and when some of those extra plates were (gratefully) removed, I actually had space to process all that's been going on. And one thing I resisted acknowledging was that mentally I'd fallen apart. I found myself overthinking almost everything, crying at the drop of a hat, experiencing sleepless and restless nights and starting each day more exhausted than the last because I couldn't stop my brain.
So, I took a step back and started thinking about how to make a change. I didn't do anything anymore purely for pleasure and without expectation of an outcome, except for collapsing on the sofa at the end of each day with some mindless TV on. So, I bought myself an adult colouring book and a jigsaw puzzle - activities that exist for no other reason than to provide a sense of achievement and enjoyment – some grown up playing.
I also deleted a couple of apps - fitness and diet-based ones that increased my anxiety, feeling that someone somewhere would notice if I didn't log my activity or food consumption or fasting hours and I'd become the bad subject in a study that never existed.
So, here's to recognising the need to stop and take a step back, switching off from the distractions that consume so much of our daily lives, and returning to activities that exist for the sake of enjoyment - puzzles, colouring, gaming. I hope my daughters see a change in my willingness to play with them again... Because play is the greatest simple pleasure we have, and children are our ultimate guides to engaging in activities with no deliverables expected at the end.
Marion works full time in business services transformation at a global law firm in London, looking after a geographically spread team of business analysts (her second family), and lives with her ever-patient husband and 2 wonderful daughters aged 3 and (almost) 6.