We are at a point in these Covid times where our relationship with the virus may have shifted dramatically from our initial thoughts and feelings.
But have our habits?
When my husband Emrys and I fell pregnant with our first child, he said he did not want a TV. He had grown up without a TV (a Steiner child) and saw the benefits for our family. He asked me what I thought.
I was appalled. “What? No TV?” At the time, I lived in London and had a very ‘involved’ TV habit. I also thought, I’ll be the one at home with the baby; what else am I supposed to do?
But when I thought about it, I realised that I had actually been exposed to too much TV as a child, and I saw things that affected my relationship with so many things (including myself) in negative ways.
I agreed to try no TV for six months.
That was eighteen years ago, and we still do not own a TV; it has not been a part of our family culture.
But then, during Covid lockdowns here in Melbourne, we got to lockdown five and our family culture, like many family cultures, changed. We did what we had to do to get through.
Our children were now teenagers and were ‘borrowing’ other people’s Netflix accounts (with permission), and we went with it; whatever they needed to get through.
In the end, Emrys decided that we would buy a family subscription, so our children were not maxing out their friend’s accounts, if that is a thing. He set us all up with our names, but I said, “I’m good. I’m not going to use it.”
But in lockdown five, about five weeks before the end, I said to Emrys, “Right. I’ve written a book and planted flowers, but the only thing that will get me through these final five weeks is TV. I am going in, and I am going in hard. See you on the other side!”
And that was what I did. Ted Lasso, Succession, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Crown, Extras, and lots of comedy; I had to find something to laugh about!
That was in 2021.
But that habit of watching a lot of TV bled into 2022, and I found myself watching TV on my non-coaching days while eating lunch, at the end of the working day, and in the evenings.
I have no judgement on the amount of TV anyone watches, and I do not think I would have remained sane for those final five weeks without being able to ‘be in other worlds’. But I knew it was a survival habit, a crutch that I no longer needed or wanted, because if I am watching TV, I am not reading, and reading is important to me.
So, over the last month or so, I have returned to my pre-lockdown reading habits
The other habit I picked up during lockdown four was a daily coffee habit. I did this for two reasons; on some days, it was hard to use my own will to get me out of bed to face another day of the same, but knowing caffeine was coming was a balm on the difficult days. The other reason was that I really wanted to support my local café.
But, my pre-lockdown coffee habit was to have coffee a few days a week, days where having coffee was a treat and supported my activity on those days. One of my favourite days to have coffee is at the farmers market on a Saturday morning.
I am now back to not having coffee daily, which makes my few coffee days a delight I look forward to instead of a crutch I need to survive.
Not all our survival habits need to be let go. One habit I have kept from lockdown days is to do a phone-free walk as often as possible, so delightful as the sunsets on the day.
I think we all created survival habits of some sort through lockdowns. As we approach the end of this year, we have an excellent opportunity to check-in and ask ourselves, without judgement, “What are the habits and crutches I used to survive but no longer need or want?”
Starting to shift our Covid crutches now means we can end the year moving out of survival and into 2023 with a set of habits that support and nourish us.
PS: I, like many, am eagerly awaiting the next seasons of Ted Lasso, Succession and The Crown, but not as a means of survival, but as a means of entertainment.
Wishing you a weekend of reclaiming the habits that nourish you.