Words of widsom…about the world

In March I asked people to send me their favourite words of wisdom so I could make a book for my daughter. I received so many lovely words about all sorts of things. I’ve organised these words into themes. Over the next few weeks I’ll share these bit by bit. Perhaps some of these words will resonate, and be useful in some way during these times of great change.

On the world

“The world will tell you there are things you cannot be. You will speak up and you will be told to keep it down because it isn’t ladylike for a woman to be this loud, this daring, this outspoken. When this day comes, I hope you tell them, better yet, I hope you show them how you were born with enough fire inside you to set the whole sky in flames. When you do this, you’ll see how there’s nothing that scares them as much as a woman who is not afraid to use her voice. But listen, be that woman anyway, because if there’s one thing I never want to you to forget is that you can be anything you want to be.” F.E.Marie.

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We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.  Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”  Ted Rogers.

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“A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they will never sit”. Updated for today or for a younger audience – do little things for others, and those little things will grow into stronger and happier communities.

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“To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe – to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it – is a wonder beyond words.” Joanna Macy

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“We thought of life by analogy with a journey, a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end, and the thing was to get to that end, success or whatever it is, maybe heaven after you’re dead. But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.”  Alan Watts

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“from each according to ability; to each according to need” really changed the way I thought about the world when I was small. It’s often attributed to Karl Marx, but it’s a traditional saying that pre-dates him.  Marx added that we’d only be able to achieve it when “all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly”.

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Lockdown life 2 weeks in

We have been in lockdown for 2 weeks. The Wednesday before we went into lockdown we were still debating whether to head to San Sebastian for the weekend to see friends who were on holiday there and after that we were still planning to go skiing for a week with my parents. We didn’t really understand at that point the severity of this virus, nor the impact it would have on Madrid in such a short time. We never really discussed trying to get back to the UK where all our family and friends are. Partly I think we thought lockdown would be a relatively short term situation, and partly I think we both feel very at home in this city.

Work life balance looks different these days

The past two weeks have been upsetting for two main reasons.


Firstly Madrid has been hit very hard and the health system has collapsed. Whilst walking our dog the other day I bumped into two men in hazmat suits carrying a body bag. On Thursday night this week my husband and I could hear our neighbour coughing (sounded like a bark) through the wall. We realised whilst he had our number, we didn’t have his. We talked through options of what we could do – we couldn’t call an ambulance because we were pretty sure one wouldn’t come. In the end we thought calling the police would probably be the best option as they would be able to enter the house. In ordinary circumstances we would have popped round. But we are now acutely aware that we both need to stay healthy so that our daughter can remain healthy and so that we don’t need to access any medical services. So we felt very helpless and barely slept that night. The neighbour is ok but he is already sick so we’re worried about his health.


In these first two weeks of lockdown I had vaccinations scheduled for my daughter. At one point these were almost cancelled but I held my ground as I felt these vaccinations were necessary. So we went to the health centre. It was a scary experience, I didn’t fully anticipate how nervous I would feel and staff there were on edge. It all went ahead as usual and thankfully my daughter is in good health so we feel we can retreat inside knowing that we have done what we can to protect her against other illnesses.
The city is quiet which is very strange. Madrid is usually alive in every sense of the word, people are so friendly and people live outside. It is rare to live in a house in this city. Most people live in flats and see the parks as their gardens. Bars and restaurants are very affordable so that most people living in Madrid can afford to go out at least once a week for food or a drink. At 8pm the city comes alive as everyone takes to their balcony to clap health workers and the emergency services. I was out on a dog walk one night and, not realising the time, experienced the clapping from the street. My dog, usually the first to bark at any excitement just stopped and looked upward. I was so moved by the situation, it feels like we are in this together.
Through the news we hear that the death rate from the disease continues to rise. Last Tuesday morgues announced they could no longer collect bodies from houses as they simply did not have the appropriate equipment. I have debated whether to write these more distressing details of the situation in Madrid but, to repeat, two weeks ago we were debating travelling elsewhere in Spain, we had no idea how quickly this virus would take hold.


And so to the second aspect which has been upsetting these past few weeks. Watching the UK a few weeks behind us. I have hope that the UK will somehow avoid the situation Spain is in, perhaps the social distancing phase worked, perhaps telling vulnerable people to stay inside early on will curb the curve. However it just seemed mad to be seeing crowds of people on the tube and in parks at a time where, over here, we are now contemplating washing clothes immediately after supermarket trips and disinfecting door handles when we leave the house. I know that the perspective I see on the news is only one side of the story, and all my friends and family I speak to have been, and continue to be, very respectful of the situation and are staying at home. So here’s hoping the UK health system can survive and the virus doesn’t take hold in the same way it has here.

When I go outside I look like a cross between the Matrix and a robber – bumbag holds passport as well as dog poo bags


So two week on I thought I’d share what I’ve learnt in follow up to this blog post: https://bit.ly/3aqPX01 (thank you for all the lovely comments about this piece, it has been read by over 500 people and that’s mostly from people sharing it on to their friends):


1) The new normal takes hold sooner than you think: both my husband and I have reflected that actually lockdown is not as difficult as we’d anticipated. This is largely down to our living situation, a house with enough outside space which means we don’t feel trapped. It’s also due to all other options being taken away at this time, we’re all in this together and we are very comfortable.
2) Weekends need to be different: we’ve struggled to work out what day it is during the week. We are both working so there’s a tempo around work, but the actual day? It always feels like a Wednesday or Thursday. We need to make the weekends feel different to punctuate time. We don’t really have a set routine for weekends, just plans in place during the week to look forward to. This weekend its my birthday so we’ll be celebrating together and speaking to family and friends via Zoom during the weekend.
3) Video calls have never been more important: we actually feel that we have less time right now than we did in life before lockdown. Balancing childcare, work and virtual socialising is tricky! But we’re so grateful for the video calls we’ve been having with friends and family. We’ve a standing quiz every Saturday with a big group of friends, and dates in the diary with other pals to catch up over a glass of wine. This is something to look forward to and means we’re connecting with other people (not driving each other crazy!).
4) Work is a good distraction we are lucky to have: through my work I support charities with their digital approach, this is quite a critical need right now so we are busy. We don’t necessarily have new projects coming in but we’ve decided it’s our responsibility to apply our skills the best we can to support communities. It’s been really busy and I can’t quite believe the hours I’ve worked the past few weeks given I also have a 4 month baby. One day I will tell her why it was important to work at this point in time. I’m aware I’m extremely lucky to have my work, and the stability of my husbands work at this time.
5) Creating an ‘office’ space helps:
I have a few office spaces in the house (which isn’t really big enough for one office space let alone a few!). I’ve learnt that the ironing board is the perfect height for a standup desk. So I can work whilst standing and holding my baby in the carrier. Having a designated ‘office’ space puts me in the right headspace so I can focus. But I usually start the day checking emails first thing in bed, with no top on whilst my baby sleeps after her first feed.
6) The house is a mess and that’s ok: at the end of the day the house is strewn with dirty nappies (we use reusables so it’s not as simple as putting them in the bin), there’s coffee cups EVERYWHERE and the dog is basically now ferrell as he trots around the house finishing half eaten plates of food. I’ve always tried to organise the house so it takes 15 minutes to tidy (I think I learnt that from Marie Kondo). By tidy I mean picking stuff off the floor and putting it in its place, not washing pots or hoovering. This is pretty much still happening, but it is quite impressive how messy the house gets in a day.
7) Screen time is high, so avoiding screens is needed: it’s really tiring having back to back work calls then going into virtual social calls. So we do need to programme in time without screens to recharge and switch off. We haven’t really got into a good habit around this yet but I think starting a new book and doing a few craft projects will help me find a balance.
8) Asking ‘how are you?’ has never been more important: I try to find 10 minutes in the day to ask 3 or 4 people how they are doing. This means that over a week I’ve managed to check in with around 20 – 30 people (or check in with the same person more than once). I think something hit the UK news on Thursday last week and I suddenly received a wave of emails and texts from people checking in to see how we were doing. I appreciate this so much.
9) Exercise is precious: I had been taking the dog running to give him some exercise and get some for myself. I was stopped by police last week and told it was not allowed. So now exercise happens in the home, which is fine, I just know I’ll never take running through a park for granted again. I’m doing online classes with a pilates teacher I had before lockdown and we’ve bought some kettlebells so we’ll be using those for workouts.
10) Taking things day by day: things are very uncertain and I find just taking things day by day the best way forward. I’ve realised how fast I usually live my life and I now find comfort in a simple cup of coffee or a game with the dog. Life will feel different after lockdown I imagine.


That’s probably it for week 2 of lockdown, I would love to hear from you if you’ve any tips or ideas for life in lockdown. Tomorrow it’s my birthday and instead of gifts (we have all we need) I’ve asked friends and family to send a piece of wisdom which I will put into a book for my daughter. It might be your favourite quote, book, piece of art or song. If you’d like to share something get in touch via a DM on Instagram.


Peace and love xxx

Ziggy

The dog is struggling. It’s day 4 and he’s freaked out. He’s a special little soul really, big in size and bark but pretty sensitive on the inside. He and I are somewhat inseparable – or we were until recent months. He’s supported me through tough deployments, warmed my feet when I tried to not use heating to save money in the Highlands and is our energetic adventure companion.

He came into our lives about 2 months into our marriage. A little bundle of red fur picked because when we went to see him he got up, walked around and bit then promptly spread himself over his brothers and sisters and fell asleep on top of them. I liked his style. Don’t ever be under an illusion you can visit puppies and leave without one. He was born on the day David Bowie died, so his name is Ziggy Stardust. He’s quite possibly the reincarnation of David Bowie.

He’s a Labrador so he’s pretty smart, I had grand ideas about training him to do all sorts of stuff. He was house trained in 3 days and he’s only ever done 2 poos in the house. The most useful thing we taught him is to wee on command, so we use the phrase ‘be quick’ and he knows that means wee. A fellow army wife taught me that. She also cautioned ‘choose a phrase that you can feasible shout from your back door, shouting ‘wee wees’ isn’t really ideal’. We also taught him voiceless commands so he’ll sit if you raise one finger in the air, and lie down if you point to the floor. He’ll roll over if you pretend to shoot him whilst saying ‘bang bang’.

He might sound quite well trained but the truth is he picks and chooses when he listens. He’s got selective hearing. He’s also really really cheeky. He has a knack of picking something up he REALLY shouldn’t have, inciting an automatic reflexive reaction to jump towards him to grab it off him. This turns into a game of chase, which he loves. He did this for example with the toilet brush once. Picked it up, horizontally in mouth, stood there with a twinkle in his eye until I noticed him then sped off round the house at a rate of knots. Brush coming in contact with the wall left right and centre. Recently he jumped into a fountain at the local park whilst under the care of his beloved dog walker, he swam round it leisurely before jumping out once he’d decided he was ready.

The truth is I totally love his spirit. In my mind he’s got a thick Scottish accent and a cracking sense of humour. He’s a total nutter. We always say he’s likely to die in a blaze of glory, going the extra mile to fetch a ball and ending up in a pickle. Once he jumped without warning onto the wall of a viaduct as we walked along it, we were SO high up. My husband and I froze, held our breath and just stood still until he nonchalantly jumped back down again. He could have easily plummeted to his death.

Obviously I love him dearly. He stopped me feeling lonely during a tough deployment and has been my shadow since he joined our pack. When I was so pregnant I could only waddle to walk him he just slowed right down and pretended he didn’t really want to run much anyway. When I was close to labour he was my biggest concern as we didn’t have anyone to look after him. Thankfully my parents saved the day. When I was in hospital recovering from a c-section I experienced the weirdest hormone crash whereby I had uncontrollable urges to laugh hysterically (SUPER painful in that situation). The only thought that would sober me up was the thought of Ziggy not being around. On returning from hospital with our new addition Ziggy pretty much ignored me for the first few days, I think he knew I was in a lot of pain. He didn’t know how to act. He ignored the baby too. Then gradually he started to check on the baby when she cried. Now he’s realising in our daughter he’s got an ally, who’s got an endless supply of cuddly toys. Just wait until she hits the high chair, he’s no idea he’s about to become a very useful hoover. He’s found his place in the pack.

Now though in lock-down he’s confused. I think he thinks we’re the last people on earth and he can’t cope with the pressure of protecting us. We tried some agility training today, he humped me. He sat with his head in his paws most of the afternoon contemplating, I imagine, the end of the world. The one good thing he has going in his life is food but we’ve cut it down as he’s doing less exercise. Perhaps he’ll go on hunger strike. I didn’t really think about home enough before lock-down. I wish I’d bought him his food and a few new tennis balls. So please send your ideas for entertaining our four legged pal, he’ll be extremely grateful!

Welcome to my home-office

The transition to home-working happened for me when we got posted to Kinloss in the Highlands. At first I worked from home for a company and travelled back to Bath every now and then. After about six months I decided to start my own business, DOT PROJECT, with my business partner. I was quite low on confidence at the time, the job I left was difficult and the atmosphere quite toxic. So I had to do a lot of work on myself to create focus and space and build a productive home-working environment. I did a short course of coaching (where I had a coach help me set healthy habits). This really focused on unblocking barriers to my confidence and self-esteem. I also did a lot of reading about how to find a balance and create a positive and healthy home-work mindset. The one book that I found extremely useful was The Black Book: A Toolkit for Working Women (by Otegha Uwagba) definitely worth a read. Generally I find a lack of these types of books for working mums, I haven’t found any useful resources yet in this space…maybe haven’t looked hard enough!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Black-Book-Sunday-bestseller/dp/0008245118/ref=nodl_

Here are my reflections on how those new to home-working might feel and some tools and techniques to create an environment in which to thrive.

When you work in a remote way your communication with people is completely virtual via calls, emails and communication channels like Slack. It can very quickly become transactional and a lot of things can be mis-communicated or understood differently to how they would be if you were face to face. Here’s a few things that I try to do to strengthen the human connection:

1. Use video call where possible so you can see the other person and their body language

2. Start the call with a check-in. When you’re not in a office environment you miss the small talk, the social side of the offices. So create the space to check in with each other.

3. Learn to be more direct in the way that you’re feeling. We’re not very good at this as Brits but sometimes you can come away from a call and feel quite down or frustrated whilst others have no idea you are feeling that way. You need to address these communication challenges head-on otherwise they will get worse

4. Don’t be surprised if you find this exhausting at first. I’m often really tired after a full day of working remotely, I think when we’re speaking to people in a virtual space we’re working doubly hard to understand body language and ensure everyone is on the same page

5. Bring back phone calls and messages. It’s like going back to the 90s in terms of communication when we used to call each other more frequently

Structuring your day is really important otherwise it can feel that your work and home life blend into one another. For me I need to clear boundaries between these two worlds because I have a tendency to do everything at a thousand miles an hour and throw myself into whatever I’m doing. Therefore I need to create the space to switch off from work. Don’t underestimate the power of a commute to really switch off and get yourself in the zone of home, you may need to find an alternative method. Here are a few things that I do:

1. Put in place a power hour at the start of your day. I often do this really really early, at 6 o’clock for example. The purpose of the power hour is to use the time to really focus on certain key tasks. Often I use this time to structure my day read through emails and draft responses and decide how I’ll break my day down based on the priorities I have.

2. Make a list what you need to do. Often when you’re really busy it feels like the best thing to do is plough on with activities and not take the time to pause and plan your day but I find this counter productive. I’ve just started bullet journalling and I really like how somehow the to do list feels more alive and manageable.

3. Leave a 45 minute window every few days to deal with admin. That might be calling the doctor to make an appointment, filling in paperwork for your kids school or sorting out your finances. These tasks often feel urgent but also seem to get in the way of your working day so assigning time to them means you get to these tasks without compromising work activities.

4. For me time management is really important. In fact, I have a bit of an obsession with time that I have to manage otherwise it can feel a bit overwhelming. Try and figure out how long each activity you need to do is going to take and set yourself a time limit to complete each task. Sometimes you may need to go over your assigned time limit to finish something but it gives some structure. This helps me as I am a bit of a bit of a perfectionist and sometimes don’t know when to stop.

5. Use a tool to help you manage your activities. I use business tools like Monday and Slack. These help with collaborative conversations but also project management. I also use a Urgent and Important matrix. This is really useful for me I put off the tasks I dislike the most and sometimes these are the most urgent. This matrix approach helps to you prioritise and decide what to do when.

Create a working space that enables you to feel focused. For me this is a space with little distractions, that is uncluttered and comfortable. Drink good coffee from a nice cup. I tend to wear ‘work clothes’ so it feels like work, and I look ok when I’m on video chats!

If you end up working from home with your partner over the coming weeks try and work out a good rhythm. If you can work in the same space together try it, but you might find that a bit distracting and that’s ok! Be really upfront about your own needs for homeworking as everyone works differently. I need minimal distraction so working in the same space as my partner is not the best for me.

Finally I find it really useful to have an end point activity to my day. Something which marks the transition back to home life. Usually this is reading an article, checking my work twitter account or making a to-do list for the next day. I physically put my computer in another room so I’m not tempted to open it. Of course a glass of wine or gin works a treat too!

Yo me quedo en casa

We are currently in a stage of ‘lock-down’ in Madrid, the only permitted travel out of the house being for medical care or food. People are using the hashtag ‘ Yo me quedo en casa’ (translates as ‘I’m staying at home’). We all know why so I won’t dwell on that. Actually I think it would be better not to use the term lock-down, instead we should call it ‘period of hygge’ and feel cosy about it (if we can).

Instead some reflections as I’m thinking a lot about people with anxiety in our current situation, I’m worried situations like this are huge triggers. I’m also concerned for those who can’t work from home for whatever reason and who will face unmanageable situations based on loss of income. I’m thinking about the elderly and people with underlying health conditions who are becoming invisible as they retreat indoors and have better things to do than vocalise through social media.

Sharing my thoughts so far as there’s time to reflect at times like this.

Firstly it’s not the first time myself or my partner have been in lock-down. We both individually have experienced this for security reasons. My partner whilst on operations and myself whilst based in the Central African Republic. The country experienced a coup, pretty much overnight a curfew was enforced and soon after a lock-down. In this country there was no clean water from the taps, electricity was intermittent and I shared my tiny flat with a flock of cockroaches. Every night I would calculate how many bottles of water I had left, I pretty much ate plain pasta 3 times a day. I had to listen to what news I could (mostly received via text message) to understand how the situation was unfolding. Villages around the city where I lived were being burnt to the ground and all we could do was watch the plumes of smoke in the distance gradually get closer and closer. It was the most stressful time of my life, my hair started falling out in chunks and I had awful insomnia. Eventually I was evacuated from this situation but many of my colleagues and friends in that country couldn’t leave, the violence that followed claimed many lives. This is not a post about that, but it gives me perspective on our current situation.

This time the situation is so different. We are healthy and we are not in a violent situation. We are also parents to a 3 month old so our decision making has taken on new dynamic, we want to minimise risk for her first and foremost. Our responsibility is to our family and to the wider community. Whilst we are healthy day to day many others are not. We don’t want to be responsible for spreading a virus to someone with a weaker immune system.

In someways the decision by the Spanish Government and Community of Madrid to put a lock-down in place apart from essential activity brings clarity. We are now allowed out of the house in a car for hospital visits, visit to relatives to help them, travel to work for businesses allowed to remain open and food shopping. Travel on foot is less restricted so you can take the dog out however all parks are shut so we’re limited to roads for dog exercise.

At all times we’re expected to practice social distancing, it’s a bit weird as you have to actively avoid people which goes against human nature but everyone is doing it so at least you don’t feel rude! Before the lock-down, with less clarity, we felt worried about leaving the house and unsure about upcoming trips away. As a result of the situation we cancelled a trip to San Sebastián (this weekend) and a ski trip (week after next). The Government decision means we didn’t have to debate whether to go in these trips or not.

We had a good idea that this situation was coming so here’s what we did to prepare:

2 weeks before lock-down

⁃ Stocked up for 2 weeks

⁃ Made any necessary appointments – for example we had to register Carmen with our local municipality, we did things like that more quickly to make sure it was done

⁃ Looked at the diary at upcoming commitments to see what we could bring forward, postpone or cancel

⁃ Limited people coming to the house but our dog walker and cleaner came as normal

⁃ Everywhere we sat for lunch or a coffee we used wipes (baby wipes) to clean the table and hands. We couldn’t get hold of sanitiser or alcohol wipes in shops and online orders had a month or more lead in.

1 week before lock-down

Nursery’s closed so the lady in place to support childcare couldn’t come as has little ones at home. My husbands place of work closed for 2 weeks but his lectures will continue virtually. As we both work (me from home mostly) childcare was a bit tricky. Here’s what we did:

⁃ Reached out to a good friend to help out on days where my schedule was busy. We trusted she would let us know if she felt or suspected she was sick

⁃ Chunked up our time so one of us could work for a few hours while the other looked after the little one

⁃ At this time we could still move around freely so we got out to the park with the dog but avoided gatherings

⁃ We continued to visit bars and cafes but felt a bit uneasy about it

⁃ We found a shop selling sanitiser, I paid 9 euros for 2 of the smallest bottles you’ve ever seen

⁃ Our WhatsApp groups were going bonkers. So much fake news and this is the first time I’ve realised I can’t tell what is true or not. I am part of a mums in Madrid group which I love for peer support and advice, as well as a military spouse group. After receiving a deluge of confusing information I decided to not read news related updates on WhatsApp and instead rely on official updates from the government

1 day before lock-down

⁃ We started to suspect a lock-down was coming. At around 10pm we received a message indicating it was likely we’d be confined to our houses soon. We did a quick stock take of food in the house and my husband did another shop at 11pm. He said it was so busy, exactly not where you want to be. The only meat available was rabbit and giblets (no thanks!).

⁃ Before lock-down was confirmed we cancelled our cleaner and dog walker. I will continue to pay our cleaner even though she can’t come as she’s in a really vulnerable situation and I’m worried about people like her.

⁃ We went through all the things we could possibly think of that we might need. We think we’ll be ok in terms of supplies but it brings peace of mind to know we can go food shopping.

⁃ We checked on our elderly neighbour and told him to call us if he needs us to do his shopping. We also spoke to Isaac, a lovely man who lives on the street who stands outside the supermarket everyday. We wanted to make sure he knows what’s going on. We’ll continue to buy him something each time we do our shopping, he never asks for anything and he’s helped us out on more than one occasion (like telling my husband to look for me when I ventured out 3 weeks post birth with baby and dog and a freak thunderstorm happened)

Day of lock-down

Lock-down started on Saturday, but there was no specific restriction on travel by car or foot to start with. The parks were really busy, everyone with the same idea to get out in the open. In Madrid most people live in flats and parks are the centre of the community as, for those without a garden, they are a haven. We went for a walk in the morning, I felt quite uneasy and tried to keep my distance from others but it was hard as there were quite a few people. We then went to buy fresh meat to put in our freezer, weirdly chicken has been consistently sold out. I guess it’s the cheapest meat so people have snapped it up.

At around 2.30pm we found out the parks were likely to close so my husband took the dog out to let off some steam and enjoy the green space before it shut. At 4pm it was confirmed that we were to stay inside and parks would close.

We decided to spring clean the house and have thrown ourselves into doing this the last couple of days. We feel it’s important we feel we’re in a relaxing space so we’ve cleaned and tidied quite intensely! The house needed it, we’d been so focused on getting prepared for this that the house was a real mess.

What I’ve learnt so far

Two days in and I’ve learnt the following:

1. There is so much unknown that it is quite overwhelming to try and second guess what might happen. So for now we are concentrating on what we do know and focusing on that. We’ll be in this situation for definite for 2 weeks, after that who knows, we’ll deal with that when it comes.

2. It’s eery to be outside. Madrid is like a ghost town. Usually our area is lively and social. Madrileños (people who live in Madrid) are warm and welcoming. Now there’s hardly anyone on the street. When we do spot someone we keep our distance but we’re still saying hi as we pass people which is really common in Spain. It’s a bit freaky being out of the house when you do need to go out, I don’t like it very much.

3. After the initial rush the supermarkets are quiet and for the most part well stocked. We have two supermarkets in walking distance.

4. I continue to avoid reading news I receive on WhatsApp and have asked on more than one occasion for people to check their sources and if they can’t verify refrain from circulating news from unofficial channels. It’s causing people to feel unnecessarily upset and overwhelmed.

5. There’s lots to do! I’ve made a list of things we need to do, the things that always fall to the bottom of your to-do list. This is keeping us busy and focused. We also have a 3 month old so she’s keeping us busy and happy with her constant smiling.

6. Setting a routine is important, I know this already from working from home. I’m getting up early as usual, getting showered and dressed as if I would be going out for the day. I find this helps with mindset.

7. Finding a good box set is good! I learnt this during my lock-down in CAR. We’ve just started a Handmaids Tale, a bit apocalyptic true but also a great distraction.

8. Exercise is important, I’ve been getting my exercise mostly from dog walking and postpartum Pilates (which is SO GOOD) so now I need a new routine. I also have post pregnancy weight to loose so don’t want to turn into a potato.

9. Make a meal of it. Enjoy the mealtimes, take time over that coffee. Time is moving in a weird way, sometimes fast sometimes slow. There’s an opportunity to reconnect and let things move at a slower pace…embrace that!

10. I wish we had more board games and jigsaws! We have a few games but would be nice to have more! I really wish we’d bought a chess set, we’ve been saying for ages we should.

11. Now is the time for reflection, there’s a lot we could worry about but our health is most important so that’s what I’m focusing on. I’m making sure I’m taking my vitamin pills and that me and my daughter are taking our vitamin D supplement. This is the type of thing that’s easy to forget to stock up on so get some in! I’m also regularly cleaning things like my phone, keys, door knobs, pram handles and dog lead. Things I touch when I’m out and about.

12. Generally being eco conscious is paying off – using cloth nappies, reusable cotton wool pads and small things like that means stocking up is much easier as we don’t need to worry about those things.

13. Being empathetic to others is important. For example we struggled with breast feeding at first but now we are able to do it. In the process we feed both formula and Brest milk, but if we needed to I could feed exclusively breast milk. So I just bought 2 weeks of formula supply because some people can’t or don’t breastfeed, I would be really anxious if that was me so I don’t want to hoard vital supplies I don’t really need.

14. We’re also preparing for the start of a working week where we both work from home without external childcare support. We are going to define ‘working hours’ and when one of us is working the other will look after our daughter. Lock-down is family time. My husband had 5 days of paternity leave and that was spent in the hospital as we recovered, so this is a good bonding opportunity for us all.

15. Spain is awesome, Madrid rocks. Everyone is looking out for each other. At 10pm on the first day of lock-down people took to their balconies to applaud hospital staff. At 8pm daily the Community of Madrid (kind of like the council) will live stream a yoga class for people to get involved with at home. As an aside free exercise classes take place in parks under normal circumstances and they are particularly focused on keeping older people active. I love this city.

Things I wished we’d thought of:

1. Fitting in a trip to the garden centre. We’d been saying for ages we wanted to get some plants for our outside spaces and now the garden centres are shut. Nothing to worry about of course but would have been a good project.

2. Similarly there’s a few house jobs which could use some paint. I only have a tiny bit in so wish I’d bought some!

3. I had stuff to send via the post office, presents and things that require going into the post office rather than just a post office. Really trivial but now it’s annoying me.

4. I wish we had got the phone number of a particular neighbour who is quite elderly and we see walking his dogs. We didn’t see him for a few days but then yesterday I heard him outside so quickly shouted to him across the street to get in touch if he needed something and did he want our number? He was totally chill and gave the impression (with a smile) that I was a mad woman.

5. My husband wishes he’d had a hair cut, you know how much those military types love a sharp do!

6. Dog food, we forgot dog food. We probably have enough but we’ll try and get more. It’s true what they say, when you have a baby your dog stops being your first born and becomes a dog. So we sort of forgot about preparing for him (and we feel bad about it as he’s got puppy eyes going on)

7. I wish I’d bought more tonic for my gin. When last did a food shop there were only 3 cans.

So we’re fine, actually more than fine. We’re healthy at the moment, we can continue to work (but remotely) and we have a nice roof over our heads. Many are not in this privileged situation and those are the people I’m thinking about the most.