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I want this to last

Jude's contribution to our Stay Home collecting project

I live in a semi-rural village just north of Glasgow in a semi-detached 1970s home. I live here with my 14 year old daughter and a 2 year old loopy miniature labradoodle. 

We have been in a form of social distancing isolation for nearly 18 months due to my daughter's anxiety. She is ASD (Autism spectrum disorder) with a PDA (pathological demand avoidance) profile and has been unable to attend school since December 2018.

Take part in our Stay Home collecting project

A kitchen with a noticeboard hanging on the wall
The chaos can be overwhelming. But it can also have a happy, cheery vibe.

In what ways has the coronavirus pandemic changed the way you use your home?

At first I didn't think that the lockdown was going to have much of an impact on us, if any. But having been in official lockdown for several weeks I am able to reflect on how things have changed for us.

For me, I appear to have to make changes to our home, both inside and out. Inside I have started stripping paint, sanding door posts, filling holes and making plans and yet more plans of what I want to change.

For my daughter it is a very different story, she spends almost all of her time in her bed. She hasn't been able to leave the house for months and seems to have reduced her world further.

How do you feel about your home? How have these feelings changed?

I find this one hard to answer because I have been through a huge range of feeling about my home over the past 18 months, that I don't feel any noticeable change. As I write this I just realised that something must have changed because why else am I making all these changes?

I think there is an element of feeling like I need to keep up with the world outside now that I am more in sync with it than I have been for months.

I almost feel like I have permission to make positive changes and to feel less shame about not being able to work and being cut off from the life I use to have. I feel more at home in the current situation and less under house arrest.

How does staying at home affect your relationships?

I feel that my relationship with my daughter has remained unchanged by lockdown as our dynamics have essentially not changed.

There are fewer pressures on my daughter due to the changes to the outside world. She doesn't feel the expectation to work towards schoolwork, or going outside or me going out to see people and leaving her with someone else. This makes things lighter and reduces her hardest triggers.

My relationships with the outside world, friends and family is a much more complex thing. I have an amazing support network of friends, family and church family who are all around and active through lockdown. YouTube services and bible studies, Zoom family quiz nights every week and FaceTime cuppa and chat with friends. I haven't felt so connected in a long time.

I feel guilty when I feel that I want this to last as long as possible when everyone else appears to want it to end. When life begins to return to a new normal for the world I will be left in lockdown. Maybe that is why I'm making changes, so that when lockdown ends I will be returning to my new normal in a slightly changed home.

What do you appreciate most about your home? What do you find frustrating?

I appreciate and love the different aspects of my garden. I am developing my side garden which has been a large dull lawn for the 19 years that I have lived here, the back is being taken over by the dog and the front has tulips smiling in the sun and the lively green leaves of my beloved ferns unrolling. They are like three different additional rooms, places with different moods and functions.

Inside the house I often feel frustrated at the feeling of having nowhere to go. It is an open plan layout on the ground floor and I often long for doors and walls. I feel overwhelmed when I see the clutter in the sink or the carnage the dog makes or the endless unfinished projects lying about reminding me that I haven't achieved anything in months.

It feels like chaos and anxiety indoors and calm, focus and order in the garden.

A living room with sofa and other items of furniture
Full, cluttered, busy. I spend most of my time indoors between sitting at the table learning Italian, reading eating and virtually socialising and sitting on the sofa.

How has lockdown changed your habits or routines at home?

This is something that has really surprised me. I had a routine, it worked and I didn't anticipate it changing particularly yet it has. I would say that it still hasn't settled down into a comfortable and reliable routine.

I noticed that little things were slipping, I was forgetting to take medication that has been part of my morning routine for a long time. I didn't do any laundry, I stopped planning meals, I spent several days feeling totally unfocused and unmotivated. It was as if with the world outside changing that I had lost some kind of anchor that I didn’t even know I had. Like a moth losing the light to fly around telling it which way to go.

I have had to find and remember the things that need to be done and find a way to fit the new social activities into my day. 

How is your sense of home affected by your neighbours or those living nearby?

I feel that my sense of home and being part of a community has been affirmed by this lockdown.

I have had a sense of community for some time due to going to church over the past 7 years and the support and friendship I have been blessed with is overwhelming to think about. I have lived in this house for 19 years and I still only know those directly beside and across from me. Everyone normally works and when they are off work they are away on holidays and you never see them.

Now it is different. Now they are there, washing their cars, cutting their grass, washing anything that stands still and keeping busy. I managed to get out of the house last week for the first time in weeks, for a walk with the dog and I was struck by how much it reminded me of the summer holidays of my childhood. Every house brimming with visible life. People in the garden, voices in the wind, people walking, laughter coming from an open window. This gave me a heart swelling feeling of community and unity.

My village was alive and I was part of it.

A dog standing on a table looking out a window
The view from my living room window being enjoyed by the ever alert Fearne

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