If someone had told you a year ago you’d spend eight weeks locked at home with your family in 2020, that might have sounded a tough gig.
If they’d then explained trips to the beach would be for exercise only, that shopping would be a necessity rather than pastime, that travel would be off the cards, your new workplace would be your dining table and your children’s schooling would be virtual, would you have believed it feasible?
What if they had then said you would do it all while watching the economy crumble and without the comfort of hanging out with extended family and friends? Surely that would be too much.
Yet here we are, two months after Coronavirus saw our lifestyles shift beyond belief and by and large Australian households have risen to the challenge. But it begs the question have you enjoyed isolation, and what have you learned that will stay with you beyond the threat of Covid-19?
Turns out Aussies are a resilient bunch and that battler spirit so entrenched in our cultural identity came to the fore during Covid-19.
On Anzac Day we took to our driveways at dawn to pay our respects, amateur renditions of the Last Post resonating through the early morning streets.
We took out our wheelie bins dressed in our finery because you know – it’s nice to get frocked up and it makes for a pretty good laugh.
We developed a whole lexicon of common new words and phrases, like ‘self-isolation’, ‘social distancing’, ‘panic buying’, ‘toilet paper shortage’, ‘new normal’, and arguably the word of the year - ‘unprecedented’.
Then we got creative. We went about decorating and cleaning our homes and started gardening more, with socially distanced queues at Bunnings stretching far into the carpark as we flocked to buy homewares and gardening kits.
We cooked – so much so that the shelves of supermarkets were stripped bare of items like flour and pasta (except risoni of course, because it turns out that’s the last team member of the pasta all-stars that Australians collectively choose).
We re-embraced our childhood hobby of music, taking up all manner of instruments that had been languishing in the back of our cupboards for decades. That’s right laying the recorder never looked so good and everyone suddenly mastered the piano.
We let our hair grow, failed to pluck our eyebrows, wore our pajamas long into the afternoon, and, if statistics reports are anything to go by, we drank (a lot).
Then of course we set about homeschooling our kids in a brave new world of online learning.
Turns out not only are we resilient, we’re tech-savvy as well. As part of our new role as personal assistants to primary school children, we Zoomed, FaceTimed, Microsoft Teamed, and Skyped our way into the virtual classroom, troubleshooting tech issues with aplomb while printing out worksheets with gay abandon. (Mum’s groups on Facebook anecdotally indicate that might have caused us to drink some more.)
On top of that, many of us worked as part of a grueling schedule involving our Zoom meetings, phone calls, and deadlines, interrupted by the regular holler of children bellowing the word “Mum!”
And yes, some of it was challenging, some of it overwhelming and there was more than the occasional moment of frustration. But fast forward 12 months from now and think about how you’ll remember 2020…
The silver linings playbook.
In amidst the chaos of March, April, and May 2020, many of us will take away at least some fond memories and lessons for life.
We were forced to slow down, step up, step back, learn on the go, and embrace a situation beyond our control.
We were happy to go without – without holidays, without playdates, parties, community sports, and dining out.
Instead, we spent quality one-on-one time with our kids and as a family unit, as ScoMo’s wife Jenny Morrison recently reflected.
"I've got to say it's been really nice having that change of life pace," she told the Sydney Morning Herald. "I've actually quite enjoyed being at home and being around the kids and spending that time not rushing. It's challenging, that's not to say it's not challenging, but it's good to be reminded of the stuff that's important in life."
So as we prepare to resume a more normal lifestyle that sees us step out again into the big wide world, what did you enjoy about isolation and what will you take with you beyond Covid-19?