Now that we’re not finding we have more time on our hands
“Now that we’re all finding we have more time on our hands…” started a woman on Gardeners’ World.
I looked at the set witheringly. “All finding we have more time on our hands”. Yeah. Right.
She wasn’t alone. It’s been a common assumption that lockdown has meant that suddenly everyone has time to do all those things they’ve been wanting to do for years.
If anything, I’m finding I have less time on my hands during the pandemic.
For starters, I am still working full time. Whilst millions are on furlough, some of whom probably are finding they have loads of time to do things, my job has continued. Lots of peoples jobs have continued. I don’t even have the luxury that some of my colleagues have in finding they have gained two hours a day by not commuting as I’ve been primarily working from home for the last four years.
Then there’s two children who are normally at school and nursery. It’s true that I haven’t done the bulk of the homeschooling. My partner and I did split it initially, but when she was furloughed, she got the fun of taking that on. Although not doing the lessons, I have been printing out the stuff coming from school. Even that’s not always straightforward. One morning I spent 45 minutes trying to work out why the printer wasn’t connecting to the WiFi. In normal scenarios, grandparents would spend time with the children especially during school holidays. But that’s not an option either.
And having everyone at home all the time has increased the amount of cooking required. In a normal week, it would just be me in the house for lunch at least three days a week. Now there are three extras, all who need catering for. Truthfully, we tended to be a bit lazy with lunchtime when the children were on holidays. Cheese on toast and quesadilla abounded. But knowing schools would be closed for a while, a more balanced diet seemed like a better idea. That required preparation and planning. Saturday have become a time where I spent morning in the kitchen preparing big batches of food for the freezer so we can eat quickly during the week.
Yes, my homemade pasties with homemade rough-puff pastry taste great. Popped into the oven straight from the freezer, they’re a wonderful lunch. But they require time to make a batch.
Then there is all the shopping to be done. Shopping that’s now being done for two households as we have shielded relatives to shop for. Whilst we’ve been fortunate to be able to get regular online deliveries, ordering and coordinating shopping, splitting it up correctly when it gets here, and even sorting out the money, is all effort.
It is true that in the grand scheme of things, our lives are not that bad. We’re a family that has discovered we have a whole new level of privilege. We don’t have to leave the house for work. We don’t have to go anywhere. We don’t even have to go to the shops to get food as we can get it delivered. We’re not on the front line. We can hide away and not worry. None of our family or relatives have fallen ill. No one has ended up in hospital. No relatives have died. And I don’t want anyone reading this to think I’m moaning and complaining about the general state of affairs. I’m extremely aware of how fortunate we are
But more time on my hands? Not a chance.
So with that in mind, I’d like to point out all the things that I could have done if I had had this mythical time on my hands, but that I haven’t done because, I haven’t.
I haven’t learned a new skill.
I haven’t put the curtain hoops up in the living room that have been sat in the hall for probably two months now.
I haven’t painted the external wood fascias around the kitchen window and door.
I haven’t re-set the children’s swing in the ground cos, well, it’s not coming out of the ground THAT badly.
I haven’t completed writing series of articles on the West Highland Way that has been half written for about three years.
I haven’t demolished a small garden wall that’s falling apart.
I haven’t re-set the paving flags on the drive that are getting unnervingly wonky.
I haven’t repainted the decking woodwork that’s flaking left right and centre.
I haven’t touched up the paintwork on our garden bench that’s going to need doing at some point.
I haven’t painted the wall in the living room that really needs doing as it’s got greasy handprints on it.
I haven’t taken the bags of rubble we’ve accumulated to the tip. (Although the tip’s been closed until the other day so…)
I haven’t taken up making sourdough bread. (Mainly cos I already had one.)
I haven’t tightened the screws up on the barbecue to stop it going wonky. (Yeah, okay, we only got the barbecue the other day from my parents who were getting rid of it.)
Basically I haven’t done lots of things. I haven’t done them because the rare time I do get an opportunity to do something, frankly I can’t be bothered doing the above.
Yesterday I had an hour or two free in between everything else. I sat in the garden and read a book. Because frankly that was, for me, a chance to sit down and relax was a far better use of my time.
I know many people have suddenly found themselves with lots of time on their hands. But not everyone has. A sizeable group of people certainly don’t. And it’s important to remember that whilst you may be experiencing one thing, other people’s experiences may vary.