Released On 8th Jul 2021
Maggie's blog: Masks off, diary full, so why am I not rejoicing?
As I write this Boris has just announced that from 19th July masks, and all of the other COVID regulations that we’ve lived with for the best part of 18 months, are finished. I thought that this announcement would fill me with happiness and I’d be packing my diary with dates to go clubbing (not) or at least see more than 5 of my friends inside. However, to misquote the Scissor Sisters, instead I feel uncomfortably numb.
I think that this is in part because my diary has already begun to take on a life of its own. I have 3 children and progressively their social activities have started ramping up. My 7 year old even has a proper, not just childcare, after school gymnastics club. The first real after school club since March 2020. Added into the mix is that one of my twins has just got a youth training contract for a professional football team. This is brilliant, but will require an early finish from work and a 90 minute round trip, plus loitering around for 2 hours, 3 times per week. Fortunately my husband and I are sharing the logistics and needless to say I’m already lining up the box sets.
Pre-pandemic I loved socialising and seeing my friends was definitely a way of keeping myself sane. However, recently I feel like I’ve been on too many WhatsApp groups organising get togethers. At one point this week I was supposed to be going to the same restaurant 2 nights in a row, albeit with different friends; fortunately England’s semi-final game has put paid to one of those outings.
All this is, of course, first world problems and, as someone who is double vaccinated, I feel very lucky that I’m able to get my life back. Although, I have been debating with colleagues and friends alike how much of my pre-pandemic life I actually want back. When I look back pre-COVID my week was super busy and full of commuting, regular work travel, childcare pickups, socialising and holidays. Then came the 18 months of pandemic which started with absolutely nothing except home schooling on the calendar and has been stop-start since then.
So I’ve been trying to reflect on the good things about the last 18 months and try and work out what I really want to keep. Starting with the hybrid office-home working model. During the pandemic, work was a real sanity saviour for me. The structure and routine of the working day gave me purpose alongside juggling the frustrations of home schooling. I also came to realise how much I like (most of!) my team. As things have eased we’ve started spending Mondays in the office and then I work 3 days at home. I love Mondays (never thought I’d say that!) as it is the day I collaborate in person with my team and spend little time on a screen. I even relish the commute, not least as the trains are still so very quiet.
Personally I’ve realised I need to exercise regularly for my mental health and I’ve managed to incorporate that into my friendships (remember those strange days when outdoor walks/runs were the only way of seeing people?). I’d like to keep meeting up with friends for a coffee/chat/walk rather than just sitting in a bar and drinking all the drinks. Or realistically maybe a walk followed by drinking all the drinks...
For me the key will be getting the balance right between friends, family, work and exercise. It’s going to take time, and learning to say no or rather being more selective about when I say yes. To that end, in the short term, I’ve selectively muted a few of the more invasive WhatsApp groups. Although I’ll definitely have no qualms about saying no to going clubbing!
Maggie works 4 days per week in marketing for a large firm in central London. She is a mother to 3 children aged 13 and 7 and wife to a fantastic husband who works full time and shares the parenting responsibilities equally.