A Little Catch Up On Life Lately | April 2020

We self-isolated for a period before official lockdown started so we have been in lockdown for over a 6 weeks now. I really want to record this strange period in our lives and thought I would give a little update on life lately.






Not Leaving Home

I am not a home bird - I am always out and about travelling or enjoying days out so this has been the biggest transition for me. It has been ok though as I know by staying at home, we are keeping everyone safe.



We have a garden and outdoor space and are not a family who needs daily outdoor exercise so we have been going out for a walk twice a week which has worked well for us. It is nice to see the rainbows in everyone's windows and luckily, we live right next to a large path / cycle network so there is plenty of space for us to enjoy walks from our doors. I am thankful we can still venture out like this as it does life out mood.

I have been visiting my Grandma once per week (by visiting, I mean dropping groceries at her door) which is the only time I am driving. It feels so weird! The roads are so much quieter and it kind of feels like you are doing something you shouldn't be, even though I know I am within my rights to take essentials to elderly relatives.

I do think it must be so hard for older people like my grandma who are living alone when they are usually so sociable. She seems to be doing ok though with lots of phonecalls to friends.


Life Is Better With Steve Here

The start of lockdown coincided with Steve switching to 12 hour shifts at work which was a bit of a bad coincidence. I have realised I really find life so much easier to cope with when he is here. When he first started his new shifts, I spent a lot of time crying on the sofa alone (anything seemed to set me off) and generally feeling very down in the dumps.

When Steve is at home, I just don't have those feelings at all. Very bizarre!  I am getting better now and things are getting easier. I think it was just a lot of transitions and change to cope with at once for me.


Decorating Bug




I didn't know what to do with myself in the Easter holidays as we would normally be out and about. I decided to decorate our stairs, our hallway and our bedroom. I am an amateur painter and have only decorated once before but I think I did a pretty good job. If we are still in lockdown over May Half Term I may tackle the living room.

Batch Cooking




Batch cooking for me has been a game-changer. I love it and don't think I will ever go back to my normal way of life now. I absolutely love having a freezer full of home-cooked meals and it is way healthier too. Click here to read how to batch cook mac n cheese.


Baking




I have always loved baking and it is brilliant to have the time to do this again. I am mostly baking cakes, biscuits and traybakes. Steve has made a few different bread products and has started his own sourdough starter.  Baking is cost-effective and I have really enjoyed it. Long may it continue.


Thursday Nights




Thursday nights are back with a bang. We have loved banging our pans and clapping for the key workers and it is lovely to see the neighbours too. This is swifty followed by the Virtual Pub Quiz which we sometimes play via Facetime with my mam. Steve, Harry and Jack are real trivia geeks and I cannot wait for the day we form an actual pub quiz team.


Shopping Local





I have always been an advocate of shopping local but it is something I slip and out of and don't prioritise as much as I probably could.

We have tried so many lovely local businesses and I am now in a routine of having a big crate of fruit delivered from the greengrocers, our free range eggs delivered from a farm in Northumberland and our meat delivered from local butchers. I really hope we can continue this forever. It feels good to be supporting local businesses, eating local food and it is less expensive yet a higher quality than supermarket produce too.

Lockdown has really made me think about who I want to support and give my cold hard cash to and for me, that is our local businesses. I have put together a list of the food & grocery delivery services we have tried and tested here.


No Escape

I have worked full-time from home for 5 years now. The kids are usually at school and Steve is at work. It has been a huge adjustment for me to not have my own space. The kids seem to be spending more time with us too - eg staying up late to watch TV. I love spending time with them but it can also be suffocating. Gone are the days of putting them to bed at 7pm for some grown-up time.


Podcasts

I have found a few ways to spend some time alone and one of those ways is to listen to podcasts. Once our school work has been completed I love popping into the garden or conservatory and living in somebody else's world for a bit. Here is a handy list of my recommendations.


Reading




I have also re-kindled my love of reading. I have almost finished Angels of the North now which is the perfect book to dip in and out of. I tend to read alongside the kids for half an hour 3 times a week. Angels of the North showcases some well-known and not so well known women who have ties to the North East. It is a brilliant and inspiring read and I have learned a lot from the book. Highly recommend.

Money Matters

I am finding the whole money situation stressful. Steve's role has slightly changed at work during lockdown and we don't think he will be eligible for as big of a bonus at the moment.

90% of my work has been cancelled including some fairly big contracts and my advert revenue is at 5-10% what it has been in the past. 

However, we have had a fair few refunds from trips which have been cancelled so it has kind of balanced out for now. I would be lying if I said I wasn't worried for later in the year though and especially if this goes on for a huge length of time.

Lots of people have said they are spending more money on food but for us, the opposite is true. I often used to visit a supermarket either daily or every few days and rarely meal planned for the full week. During lockdown, we have changed our shopping habits massively and I buy our fruit, veg, eggs and meat from local suppliers now and only visit a supermarket once a week. We have been baking & cooking from scratch more often and I have started batch cooking too. This coupled with no eating out and less takeaways means we are actually spending less on food at the moment. Long may it continue.

I have been SO shocked by how little petrol we have been using too. Steve uses the car for work and I use it on a Wednesday to go shopping and deliver shopping to my Grandma but that's it. I honestly think a full tank may last us more than two months rather than the usual two weeks.

I am a bit of a spender normally but because the future is so uncertain right now, I have reined it right in. It kind of makes me think what on earth did I spend our money on before? I have also gone through our finances and cancelled all non-essential subscriptions such as Amazon Prime and a couple of things I used for work.

I also cancelled our Merlin Annual Passes (sad times!) and our National Trust passes. We actually signed up to National Trust Scotland years ago and I keep meaning to switch to the English version. I am glad lockdown has forced my hand! As soon as NT properties re-open, I will re-sign up as a NT England member.

Overall, I have saved around £150 per month from subscriptions/ direct debits we didn't need. Not bad!

Heidi's Birthday



I remember at the start of lockdown thinking that it may be over by the time Heidi's birthday hit. Oh how naive I was! I will say I was sad for her. 11 year old birthdays are all sleepovers, pizza parties and cinema trips so this year's was a little different.

In the end she had a lovely day - lots of cake, played on Nintendo and had a downstairs sleepover complete with midnight feast. One of Heidi's friends left a small gift on our doorstep as they passed on their daily walk and their family sang Happy Birthday from the bottom of our garden which was lovely.


Alcohol

Alcohol has been a bit of a hot topic during lockdown. Whether you are drinking more or less is nobody's business really. I say, just do whatever gets you through (as long as it's not dangerous for you) and that this won't last forever. No judgement here!

There is plenty of time to contemplate your drinking habits and unless you are regularly exceeding Government guidelines or should not drink for health / wellbeing reasons, don't sweat about it.

Personally, we have been drinking less as I have not visited Aldi for 7 weeks now and that is where I would pick up 99% of our alcohol (and I used to pick something up on pretty much every shopping trip). Instead, we have been working our way through our Christmas Gin on Steve's days off.  Rhubarb & Ginger with lemonade is my fave.


Feed the Birds 

We put a bird feeding station up in our garden last week. We ordered it from Homebase pre-lockdown and they are a company I would not recommend as it arrived 30+ days late with no reply to any of our communication (delivery was supposed to be within 2 days). Anyway, we have put it up in our front garden which has turned into a little bit of a project for me and I absolutely love it.

I never ever saw the appeal of bird watching but I love sitting on the sofa and spotting various birds out of the window. It is so soothing and it feels nice that we are helping nature too. We had visitors within a few hours of putting our feeder up.  Blue Tits, Starlings, Blackbirds and Sparrows regularly visit now.

Feeding the birds has helped form part of my morning routine too - at the start of each day, I feed the Guinea Pig, water the plants inside and out, top up the seed tray on our feeder and change the bird bath water.  This also forces me to get dressed rather than lounge around in my PJs all day.

Binge-Worthy TV


My workload has decreased, Steve now works in the evenings and over weekends when I would normally be out and about, we are now at home so have more time on our hands. Steve has a few TV shows he watches which I don't pay attention to and usually faff around on my laptop and 90% of the time we watch TV together. It feels weird watching TV shows without Steve as it is just not something I would normally do.

I binge-watched Too Hot to Handle in two days and loved it - just the escapism I need. A group of hot singles live in a beautiful villa and are not allowed any sexual contact as they try and experience a deeper relationship. It is full of twists, turns and backstabbing. Catch it on Netflix.

Steve and I have been watching Ozark together - usually one episode each night in bed. It is a little slow and not the most gripping but still we are hooked. It is all about money laundering and is full of interesting characters. We are almost done with series 2. Catch it on Netflix.

My final recommendation is Normal People. I have three episodes left and it is the best thing I have watched in forever. Catch it on iPlayer. It sounds cheesy but it is a millennial love story. It is heart wrenching, uplifting, pure, relatable and honest. I cry at every episode and half the time I have no idea why. It is so intense and really hooks you in. The casting and cinematography is just perfect too.  I am going to buy the book as I bet it is brilliant.


Date Nights



Steve and I are used to heading out for brunch dates pretty much once a week. We are one of those annoying married couples who prioritise spending time with each other which is kind of tricky during lockdown.

This month we enjoyed a couple of little date nights at home. We turn the TV off, dress up a little, put on some music, cook a nice meal, share a bottle of wine, send the kids upstairs and actually have a proper conversation. It is lovely and I highly recommend.

Home Schooling

I always wanted to home school but never had the guts to do it. Well I say homeschool, I really mean world school. Imagine travelling the world and teaching your kids at the same time. The dream!

Some people get a little annoyed when you call educating your children at home during this time homeschooling as it's not their version of homeschooling or what it is usually like. It isn't how I would normally do it either but tbh, homeschooling is just a word and it is the easiest way to explain the situation right now.

We have fallen into a nice routine of the kids chilling in the mornings while I catch up on chores followed by a mix of educational activities / school work / life skills in the afternoon. It isn't for everyone but it works for us. I usually share what we have been up to each day on Facebook and Instagram. 


So that has been our April. I would love to hear what you have been up to. 



Share:

3 comments

  1. Sounds like you've got a good balance at the moment. I really need to shop local more, half the battle is figuring out where is good near you that delivers - if only I lived closer to you so I could just copy!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I loved reading this post Sam. We are trying to enjoy this time at home that we wouldn't normally have but it's so very different to normal life!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love this, Sam! I started reading Normal People two nights ago to try and get through the book before watching the series this weekend. It’s really lovely to read and I can’t wait to watch the show. Seems like you’re balancing everything really well - I think balance is the key to getting through this the best we all can!

    ReplyDelete

I'd love you to Tweet your thoughts about this post (@nefamilyfun) or leave a comment over on my Facebook page (fb.com/NeFamilyFun) - Sam x

© North East Family Fun | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Designed by pipdig