Lessons I learned from the last lockdown

Eating barmbrack and parenting at maintenance level: How Ciara McDonnell will approach Level 5
Lessons I learned from the last lockdown

Ciara says she will not be getting up at 4am to cook loaves of no-knead bread for her family, as she did in March and April. Picture: PA

Last night, while preparing ourselves for An Taoiseach's address to the nation, my colleague Eoghan O'Sullivan proved himself to have his finger on the pulse of what is important, decreeing Barmbrack to be the Banana Bread of Lockdown Mark 2. 

He was right; I was horsing into two doorstep-sized slices, dripping with butter as I read his tweet.

I feel less hysterical than I did back in March. I am less inclined to do a Covid Bunker shop in SuperValu consisting of only wine and toilet paper. I am less likely to download the Couch25k AND the Couch210k apps in preparation for my lockdown of self-improvement. 

This time around I will not be self-improving. This time, I will be self-maintaining. 

Our collective mental health has taken a battering this year - no matter where you live and what your situation is. My aim for Level 5 is to mind my head. 

I will not be getting up at 4am to cook loaves of no-knead bread for my family, as I did in March and April. If I wake in the wee hours, I will make a cup of coffee and do something soothing, like eat a biscuit or listen to the shipping news on the radio. 

I will be parenting at maintenance level too. I will not be crafting up a storm this mid-term. I will not be merrily doing jigsaws with my kids on cold stormy nights. During spring and summer, I felt an almost adrenaline-filled need to be The Best Parent I Can Be to my kids. I even learned how to play Minecraft (badly). Not this time. This time, I will parent, just okay. 

I will be making a list and checking it twice of my friends and family and making sure to contact them every day and tell them that I love them. There has been so much unbearable loss since the arrival of Covid 19, and not being able to support our loved ones in the most Irish of ways - by chatting for hours at a funeral full of the community - is one of the cruellest parts of this new normal. 

I will not pretend to be happy when I am not. This time, I will not subscribe to the "ah I'm grand" part of being Irish. It is not grand, and when I don't feel that I am, I will not be faking it until I make it. 

I will make it my business to consume one piece of news or media that makes me smile every day. I will seek them out, because even on the darkest days, there are still things that melt the heart, like three cats hugging under a blanket. 

I will be avoiding adding rules to my new lockdown regime. There are enough already. So let's be kind to ourselves, just like we are so determined to be kind to others. Let's eat and drink things that make us feel wonderful. Let's make sure that we stay connected with our loved ones. Let's do our very best to ensure that when we come out of the other side of this winter, we are whole in body and in mind, and that begins and ends will minding ourselves. 

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