Lifetime Stories in Lockdown.

A routine is something we take for granted. It is where life  doesn’t change – or doesn’t seem to change. 

When one day blends into the next it is hard to think about what happened on what day.

But, when something ‘big’ happens that shakes up the routine we remember that time, or day, as significant.

In our lifetime we will experience many different life events – birth, graduation,  moving house, bereavement, new job.  These will be interspersed by planned  events holidays, family celebrations, Christmas, Bank holidays, school year.

We spend considerable time at work, but at home it is about our everyday needs – childcare, housework, cooking, shopping, paying bills.

There may be bulk and random chunks of time spent caring for relatives… volunteering…  leisure. We fit these in alongside fixed times for sport and hobbies.

In 2020/21 across the globe Covid-19 is (still) wreaking havoc.

‘Normal life’ – as we know it – is disrupted.

We are all living in a new way, with reduced personal/ social contact.

We have limited  (or no) access to the spaces and places of everyday life – shops, hairdressers, school, day centres and churches.

Right now, we cannot visit other countries… other people’s home… gigs… pubs.. sport centres.. and restaurants.

Major life events such as weddings and funerals have been scaled down, and limited to immediate family only.

We are living in extraordinary times –  and yet, every day seems much the same.

With normal life on hold and our life experiences compromised what is the story of this pandemic?  

U OK UK?, an excellent series of reports by branding company Karmarama,   is tracking  people’s changing thought, moods, and values over the course of the pandemic.

Beautifully presented and highly accessible, it concludes with clear insights and pertinent observations.

To discover what people ‘think’ it digs deep to look at how people’s values are changing, and how that may affect what happens next.  

Highlights – in short:

  • The absence of change” –the fact that people cannot move forward.

 People feel stuck because they cannot plan ahead. But…is this a state of enforced inertia or an awakening to slower and more sustainable living?

  • People feel more insular, and less like a citizen of the world

The curtailment of travel means less exposure to other countries and cultures. Our focus now is on what we need (locally) to survive and  emerge from this.

  • We are somewhat pessimistic about the future

Thwarted ambitions and a perceived suppression of opportunities (through social engagement) has deadened our joie de vivre.

We are fearful that the pandemic is here to stay and our good health compromised.

  • Concerned for our families we are reaching out to them. We have the technology, we have the time, and appreciate our families more – for now.

Empty social diaries give us more time to spend on (and think about) our nearest and dearest. We are stepping up, and are more giving and caring. 

  • When this is over we expect to spend less on going out and making big purchases.

After a year of not ‘going out’ we are re-evaluating how we spend our money and realising we can live more cheaply.

  • Positives: We have had more time to think, and to consider our values in relation to community, our time, and what we spend our money on.

With longstanding brands disappearing and ‘shopping’ mainly concerned with essentials the retail world is changing – and we are making that change happen.

  • There is massive support and appreciation for the NHS

We are forever indebted to the sheer professionalism and effort of all the individuals who make up the NHS

  • Clear recognition that the elderly and students have been affected the most by the pandemic

Lost generations missing out on the precious, quality life experiences

  • A Covid-free future? Concerns about flying and Covid safety in other countries. Staycations are here to stay.

There remains a lingering nervousness of people, places, events (until we know otherwise).

A return to ‘normal’ life is not going to happen overnight. 

Covid is going to take an on-going emotional and physical toll on all of us.

We know the pandemic is generating a a lot of health-related data.  But beyond the statistics and science-based evidence there are wider insights that need to be gathered and analysed.

We need to be able to look back on and learn from this experience.  

The Museum of the Home’s  Stories of Home Life Under Lockdown features ordinary people talking about their own home-based experiences of lockdown.

It explores at how life is for them, what they are thinking about and how they spend their time – at home. This will undoubtedly prove to be a valuable archive; it a valuable insight into what people are currently going through.

People’s well-being lies at the heart of our community and society. It makes sense that we should document and be sensitive to their lifetime experiences (past and future).

Each government and country is dealing with the pandemic in its own way but ultimately this period is primarily a very personal experience.

Living through this time of our lives affects our mood, aspirations, ambitions and opportunities and also our longterm development – especially for children.

Every story featured in  Anyone at Home,  represents not just a personal lifestage but also a place in time.

The Covid pandemic is just one aspect of a lifetime of experiences. But, because it is affecting what people can do now – that may well affect what they can do next.

  • Young professionals are finding they at a point where they cannot move forward. On hold: their wanderlust, their jobs and their plans for the future.
  • The sudden withdrawal in support for carers puts greater pressure on family members – who are already dealing with a difficult situation.
  • New immigrants forging a positive and new life in a new country are struggling to build their businesses and interact with the community
  • With everything suddenly going online teachers have had to make radical, and intrusive adjustments to their personal space.
  • People working from home find they are working longer hours and greatly miss the social aspect of work.
  • Bereavement and a sudden adjustment to a new life stage cuts people off from social contact and purpose.
  • In US States in the difficult run up to the Presidential election the lockdown rules are not the same and so people have a different lived experience. It all comes down to geography and politics.

All this will shift and change. What people experience today may be very different tomorrow.

This is not just about ‘lockdown’ or “Covid’ it is about people trying to live their lives and hoping things will get back ‘to normal’.

There will be life post-Covid….. and people’s lives will move on,

There may be things that they/we will remember – and a lot that they/we will forget.

The stories of the pandemic are not just about what we are living through now – they are for when we come out the other end.

See also: Stay Home Stories British Liver Trust One Housing BBC Museum of English Rural Life

And… Lockdown Stories Children’s hand-written stories of lockdown

Nuala Rooney

I am designer, educator and researcher developing creative and holistic human-centred insights within the social/spatial sphere.

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