Joanne and Nina have seen a lot of positives, both personally and societally, emerging from the lockdown – including indulging in their love of liquorice bullets!

What has happened over recent months to you both?

Nina (N): I’m 14 and in Year 8. This is usually when most people are finally settling in after Year 7 making new friends, discovering ‘who they are’. But since the start of Year 8, I’ve noticed how people have been changing as they’ve been spending more time by themselves. Some of my friends have found new styles, new things they enjoy, new hobbies. Many have been a lot more outgoing and able to talk more and open up using the technology, especially during this time when you need to be able to socialise with your friends. So these are some of the positives.

It’s been more negative for people who have problems with their family. It’s been a lot harder on them trying to get through it by themselves and they’ve embraced social media a lot more. But not too much has changed for me although I obviously miss everybody and haven’t liked doing school from home very much.

Joanne (J): The biggest change for us as a family has been that my husband Alex has been home with us since February. He has been working on international projects for about 3 years, spending more time away than at home. But all European projects were put on hold and having him home has been fabulous.

Up until this time we kind of coped and I did a lot of sole parenting. So when Alex came home I think I was really exhausted with parenting. I take my hat off to single parents, because it’s not just physically you’re doing everything, but emotionally it’s full-on, particularly with teenage children. I’ve also been working professionally. I do performance coaching and help people manage their emotional state and I think that’s what’s helped keep me sane, because I use all the techniques I teach my clients on how not to fall off the ‘deep end’ when everything’s hitting the fan at the same time.

So when Alex came back I think I just felt that it was an opportunity to recharge my batteries. Alex got a chance to hang out with the kids and just ‘be there’ and available. So it’s been fabulous for us and for him.

What has got you through?

N: My close friends live really close so I’ve been going to the park to kick the footy and hang out with them most days. That’s been really nice because at least I can see somebody within the 5 kilometres. Also ‘Netflix’ and ‘Stan’ have helped! I love watching ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Vampire Diaries’, ‘Friends’ and the new movie ‘Enola Holmes’ came out and I became obsessed with that. 

J: I go on walks three times a week with three different girlfriends and we walk about an hour or so. We cover about 7 kilometres and we talk the whole time. I’ve discovered these trails that I never knew existed. So this has been my ‘girlfriend time’. Normally we do face-to-face over a cuppa or a meal. So I’ve been able to have female friend support and relationship through this time, which has been really important. 

Liquorice Bullets have helped too!

N: I’m usually the person who eats most of the Bullets…they’re really good!

What has brought you joy?

J: I host an online knitting group for church once a week and knitting gives me a lot of joy. I’ll also come out of this lockdown fitter than when I went into it, because I’ve taken up Zumba again, online. I’m not a person who naturally likes to run or go to the gym, but I see Zumba as dancing and dance I could do ‘until the cows come home’!

N: As a family, we like watching T.V during dinner, things like ‘The Block’ or whatever other ‘reality show’ is on – 

J: – and ‘Lego Masters’, ‘American Idol’ –

N: – ‘The Voice’, ‘The Bachelor’ –

J: – No, not ‘The Bachelor’….’House Hunters International’, because we’ve travelled a bit and it’s just nice seeing these places.

Have you learned anything over this period?

N: I’ve learned to appreciate the little things, like when the restrictions eased and you got to hang out with two friends instead of one. We’ve really wanted to make sure that we make time for each other.

J: I think I’ve probably got to know my family better. With Alex it’s been partly about reconnecting because he’s been away so much. It’s also been lovely to watch my two daughters, Lara and Nina, spend more time together, share clothes and get closer, where previously they hung out mostly within their own friendship circles. And I feel like I’m getting to know my kids better as well, because they have to come out of their rooms to eat and that ‘grazing thing’ is 24/7!

N: Yeah, Lara and I have got closer. I’m able to ‘read’ her better. I might bug her or annoy her in the kitchen and if she leaves and closes her bedroom door when I’m following her I know she doesn’t want to talk to me. If her door’s open a little, I know I can come in and if she says “Get out”, I know she wants me to come in. It sounds really wrong, but it’s really accurate!

What have you most been looking forward to?

N: All through quarantine I’ve been making plans to go to the beach and the pool every day. As soon as the holidays kick in I’m hanging out with as many people as I can and not allowing myself to have a free day. Using public transport again and not having to be driven everywhere will be great.

J: I too have been looking forward to hanging out with more than one person at a time: meeting for a meal, being in each other’s houses, being able to travel more than 5kms.

What enduring changes would you like to see at the end of all this?

J: I wouldn’t have wished this pandemic on the world, but some things that have come out of it have been really radical and things that I’ve always hoped for. 

For example, something closer to a ‘living wage’ through Job Seeker and Job Keeper; recognition that when you have constant unemployment you need to help people. I’ve loved the fact that there’s been less pollution and the potential for dramatically impacting climate change seems more  promising. Before it was like “Oh people will never change that much” and actually the answer now is, “Yes, we would”.

I think it’s opened people’s awareness of what’s possible, given us the kick we’ve needed to really get there. There’s a recognition that we can’t outsource everything and that maybe we’ll see an increase in local manufacturing that’s sustainable. There are things that Australia’s been able to get away with because we’ve been blessed in not ever having had an epidemic or pandemic and now it’s time to have some strategies instead of cutting budgets every which way.

I would like to see a ‘re-set’ in general across society. We don’t need to buy so much. Our credit card bill dropped significantly every month because we were not in the shops so much. We’ve also come to appreciate relationships much more. 

N: Yes, people have realised the changes that we can make in relation to pollution and climate change and the impacts these can make on our future society. A lot of people have been speaking out on social media about underpaid workers, ’fast fashion’ and pushing for buying locally from small shops. I think there’s a higher social awareness because people have been on their phones more – which isn’t always a good thing – but have understood more about what’s happening in society and in our world.

Peter McKinnon, 19/11/2020

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