As A Mum In Lockdown, My Social Life Has Never Been Better. What Happens Now?

Before coronavirus, I never got to ‘go out’ much. But during lockdown, I feel like I’ve been ‘out out’ every single night.

As someone who has worked from home for a few years and has a young family, it’s fair to say I never really got to go out much.

The logistics of home life, the school run, and the need to be chained to my computer for work prevented me from living the fulfilled social life I envisioned for myself. `No office to go to meant no colleagues to chat with, and so most of my human contact was with my small children and my husband when he returned from work. Is this it? I would think to myself. Is my entire dialogue really just about Paw Patrol and the washing?

This was, of course, before lockdown. Like everything else around us, my social life changed drastically.

Where I would sit and clock watch as I worked from my dining room table, I’m now fielding about six WhatsApp chat groups, each buzzing away throughout the day. Friends who would always vanish behind the doors of offices in the morning only to emerge fatigued and too tired to call in the evening are now all up in my face, asking each day: “How are you? Fancy a FaceTime?”

Even when the workday is over, it doesn’t stop: I’ve Housepartied, I’ve Zoom pub quizzed, I’ve even watched a friend do an Instagram Live on flower arranging. There’s a whole world of digital social activities, talks and events, once held in places hard to get to on a Thursday night, popping up and allowing all those stuck at home a chance to finally join in.

While a huge part of me is incredibly anxious about the overall impact of what’s happening in the wider world, in particular, the absolutely terrifying global number global cases, I’m not ashamed to say I’ve revelled in lockdown. I love that I can look into my calendar and feel overbooked for once. I love that I have the power to choose which events and activities I want to do that night. I love that I’ve reconnected with old friends, some of whom I haven’t seen for years, over a socially distanced drink on Skype. Without the stress of planning travel and childcare, it’s been blissful to say “yes!” to every invite rather than a weak “can I get back to you?”, knowing full well I’ll never be able to make it.

However, I know the end is near. And while I doubt things will go back to ‘normal’ for a long time (if ever), the worry is starting to creep in. The minute pubs reopen and social events resume, will the fascinating talks return to the museums? Will my peers go back to having a few drinks with their office colleagues before falling into bed after a long week? Will the pub quizzes retreat to... well, the pubs? I’m worried once this is all done and life settles back in, I’ll still be here. In my house. Staring at my phone. Wondering where the hell everybody went.

I know I am extremely fortunate. But it’s absolutely okay to admit that we need more. Loneliness is not always about being by yourself. For many people, be it, parents, freelancers and even those who usually look like they have a busy active social calendar, you can be completely surrounded by people in your daily life and yet still feel like nobody can see you. You can have people in your life, yet have the overwhelming feeling that you’ve been swept out to sea, frantically waving to catch the attention of those on the shore… but they can’t see you to help.

This is a feeling that runs deeper than FOMO. This is the fear of being forgotten about completely.

Despite the physical barriers between us right now, I truly feel that we’ve never been more connected. Of course, this hasn’t been the case for everybody – there has been a sharp spike reported in those struggling with their mental health during this pandemic, and the implications of cutting people off from their wider social and support networks is seeing people who have never suffered from mental health issues now reporting them. And that’s not to mention the longer-term impacts on mental health we might see as we emerge from this crisis.

What I’m saying is this pandemic should raise larger questions about how socialising has been conducted up until now. In a world where presenteeism rules, both in work and in our social lives, those of us who live rurally, have a low income, no access to childcare or have accessibility issues are all at a disadvantage. We need to bring the best bits of lockdown with us when this is all done, so everybody can feel part of the wider community.

I know one day I’ll be sitting in a pub garden again and I can’t wait to give my friends a real-life hug when we do eventually meet. But until then, I’ll make a quarantini and see you on Zoom.

Danielle Jones is a freelance lifestyle and travel journalist. Follow her on Twitter at @danijonesuk

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