What happened to me during lockdown
For the longest time I have wanted to "put pen to paper" and share what happened during our strict 10 week lockdown in Mauritius, because it changed me, and my family, forever. So what happened during that lockdown period, and how did it change us?
In the middle of March Mauritius (where I have lived since 2015) went into lockdown to try and deal with something called Coronavirus, which still felt a bit new, a bit strange, and temporary.
It started off as fun. I filled the kitchen cupboards, fridge and freezer, we pulled up the drawbridge (locked the big gate) and got a bit excited about some time at home, just the four of us.
For most of my life I thought I was an extrovert, but in the last few years I’ve realised I have some serious introvert tendencies too. So I was quite excited about not being expected to see people, or go out for a while.
We took lockdown really seriously and didn’t see anyone for the full 10 weeks of Mauritian lockdown. The girls didn’t go further than the garden gate. I only went out to buy food, and kept that to a strict minimum too.
So what happened during that lockdown period, and how did it change us?
I had the inexplicable joy of going bra-free for pretty much all that time. And I even wondered if this was something I could carry into my everyday, “back to normal” life after lockdown.
The answer, sadly, is no (bigger boobs definitely need support when you’re not just chilling at home!). But how glorious was this freedom for a couple of months?!?
However there are some things I “dared” to do during the Covid-19 lockdown that I have stuck with since…
I discovered how much sleep I actually need
Before Coronavirus hit, I was sleeping around 7 – 7.5 hours a night. Despite reading The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington and knowing just how important sleep is (and despite preaching it to the women in my Life Reboot Camp), I never seemed to find a way to get more shut-eye than this.
During lockdown I switched the morning alarm off, went to bed when I felt tired and slept until I woke up naturally.
And the weirdest thing happened.
I found myself sleeping 8, 9 or even 10 hours a night! I don’t remember the last time I slept that much.
Instead of feeling lazy or guilty or selfish for all this sleep, I listened to my body and realised she was begging for rest, for recovery. Not just then but moving forwards too.
So now sleep is a top priority and I go to bed ridiculously early.
I’m an early bird and at my most productive first thing in the morning, plus the girls leave the house to go to school between 7am and 7.30am, so I am rarely up later than 6am, which means I go to bed at…
That’s right. My new rule is 9pm bed and 9.30pm lights out because I love curling up in bed with a good book at the end of the day.
This gives me a good 8 hours sleep a night, and allows me to wake up gradually before my 6am alarm.
It’s been a game-changer, and I’m not ready to go back to bad habits. I wonder if you’ve found the same.
What else happened during lockdown….??
I stopped dyeing my grey hair!
I have been dyeing my hair for about 20 years now, first of all for fun, but for the last 10-15 years to cover up my grey hairs.
I would religiously get my roots done every 6 weeks to cover up the increasing number of grey hairs coming through.
Then during lockdown I didn’t even consider doing my hair. In fact I was excited that I could just let my natural colour grow and come through for once.
So I sat back, waited and watched what happened.
And it turns out that, age 44, I have a hell of a lot of grey hair! (I will share photos soon, I promise.)
I started to wobble when it looked like lockdown was coming to an end, but then I came across the instagram account @grombre and realised just how beautiful these “sparkles” can be, if we don’t let the media suffocate us with how we “should” look.
On top of that I thought of a friend that I have here in Mauritius, who has let her natural silver colour grow, and it looks fabulous.
So I thought “fuck it!” and I made the decision not to dye again.
It was hard first of all, I was convinced people were staring at my roots. And I felt like I needed to justify why I’d “let myself go”. But now my “roots” are about 4 inches long and it actually looks like a pretty cool ombre style.
I also love the message I’m giving to both my daughters – natural is good. Ageing is not bad. Love yourself as you are.
Plus I’m enjoying leaning into this “wise woman” character. I am not 20, in fact on my next birthday I will be closer to 50 than 40, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise!
Another big thing that happened during lockdown is I WORKED really hard on my relationships.
Yes, that’s right. I worked on them. My relationship with Ben, my relationship with Léna and Clémence individually plus our relationship as a family.
Ben and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary last month, and at the end of the year we will have been together for 19 years. And – spoiler alert – you don’t get a happy, loving, fulfilled, respectful, fun relationship if you don’t work at it.
So what did I do?
I instigated date night for Ben and me. Even though we couldn’t leave the house.
Every Saturday evening we turned the dining area of our home into a restaurant. We laid the table with fancy tablecloths, switched our phones off, put on some nice music, opened up some decent wine and ate restaurant-style food (as in something fancier than our everyday meals).
On top of that we got dressed up for these romantic evenings, as if we were going to a luxury restaurant. I did my hair and make-up, put on my fanciest outfits and heels. And we played restaurant make believe.
Léna, who is now 13, usually babysits for us when we go out. So we got her to babysit for us while we went to our faux restaurant, which meant we could enjoy date night in peace, while she gave Clémence her dinner and put her to bed.
It was GLORIOUS!
We banned certain topics of conversation – anything Coronavirus-related (obvs!), anything to do with work, chores, to do lists etc. And instead we reminisced about holidays we’d already taken and trips we wanted to take when the world went back to normal.
It’s funny to look back now and realise how optimistic we were as we talked about trips to Europe this Christmas and road trips to the US next July / August. Holidays that are looking less and less likely every day.
What was the outcome of these date nights at home?
We found a closeness unlike anything we’ve ever had before. It wasn’t the heady excitement of the honeymoon period, as we’re older and have experienced a ton of ups and downs since the early days.
Instead it was joy and love in being with the person we most wanted to be with.
We talked and talked.
And I think it’s safe to say now, nearly 4 months after Mauritius came out of lockdown, our relationship is going from strength to strength, thanks to this “work”.
As for my relationship with our girls and our a family as a whole, I instigated other activities to really nurture these relationships.
Every Friday evening was a parent-daughter night. So one week I had 1-2-1 time with 13 year old Léna whilst Ben had daddy-daugher time with 7 year old Clémence, then the following week we switched.
This enabled us to really go deeper in these relationships, to know and understand each other better, and to create the happiest of memories :-)
Lastly we created family game competition days where we spent all day playing board / card games in a mammoth competition, with prizes to be won.
The games we played were Uno, Family Trivial Pursuit, Cluedo, the French game “Mille Bornes” and occasionally the French game “La Bonne Paie”.
I wasn’t sure if this would work with the age range in our family but they were a huge success, even with a teen on-board! And brought us closer as a family again.
So how have I come out of lockdown?
Even more grateful than ever for the life I have, the home I live in, the family I have, the businesses that Ben and I run, and the country we live in. (We might not be able to leave the island, but there are far worse places to be locked down in than Mauritius I reckon!)
I am more relaxed. Rested. Chilled out.
I love how I look. My sparkles amongst my dark hair, my wrinkles, my lumps, bumps and bulges. They make me ME.
I am head over heels in love with my husband.
I genuinely love spending time with my kids.
I feel so snuggly and happy in my home.
And overall I just feel so good, happy, fulfilled and unafraid of what is coming next.
Who knows when we’ll next be able to leave our island in the same way as before?
Who knows when our girls will next see their grandparents?
Who knows what the future holds?
It doesn’t matter as I know I have tools now to face whatever comes next.
And because I don’t like to keep these kind of things to myself, I am running a FREE live workshop to share how you too can make the global pandemic the best thing that ever happened to you.
- you need to pivot on the work front
- your relationships are in the toilet
- you are struggling from lack of control and feeling like you can’t handle what comes next
I’ve got you covered!
2020 has been a shocker of a year for pretty much all of us, so let me help you turn the shit show around and come out laughing.
Hope to see you there lovely!
* 10.30pm San Francisco (the night before) / 6.30am London / 7.30am Paris / 9.30am Mauritius / 1.30pm Perth / 3.30pm Sydney