As we cautiously start returning to work and school, and the new normal begins spreading around the nation, so too does a growing awareness of just how fortunate we have been. While countries around the world remain in the grip of the pandemic, Australians are already reflecting on the positives and looking for ways to hold on to our hibernation highlights.
Parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson said coronavirus lockdown had delivered unexpected positives to many families forced to spend more time together without their usual hectic schedules.
“Many parents have said to me that the forced isolation and unavoidable slowdown has been a
wonderful thing for their family,” he said.
“I’d encourage everyone not to speed up again too fast, practise the habits you did in isolation because those habits have brought your family closer together.
“Don’t stop your afternoon walks together or your baking together, don’t get too busy again too fast.”
Mother of two Marieke Lee said she had loved being at home with son Oskar, 9, and daughter Freja (known to everyone as Bob), 7, and having her partner, Jorgen Jansson, home for lunch and dinner every day. At least, she loved it once it became clear they were still allowed outside for daily exercise and fresh air.
“I was dreading that we would be forced to be stuck inside our tiny apartment,” she said.
“Because I had that fear, when that didn’t happen, I was just loving it and making the most of it. I mean, how good was this autumn? It was the most amazing season, weatherwise.
“All in all I’ve loved so much about it.”
Although Ms Lee’s paid work stopped completely during the lockdown, she said they also spent so much less as a family that they broke even, which allowed them to enjoy the restrictions rather than worry about finances.
Indeed, spending less was the top pick in a Humaniti survey this week of 1025 respondents, with 48 per cent selecting it as one of the things they have enjoyed about the COVID-19 crisis.
Ms Lee is also among those who turned their hand to baking. Many Australians have used coronavirus conditions to head to the kitchen, with 39 per cent of respondents in the same poll enjoying cooking more at home.
And while Ms Lee joins the 10 per cent that singled out embracing more time cooking with the kids, she said it hadn’t all been about baked goods or desserts.
“We’ve been eating even healthier than normal, given that every meal, every day has been home made,” she said.
“Also ordering more organic seasonal vegetables makes me branch out, because I’m having to explore different dishes that suit the vegetables.”
A keen outdoors family, Ms Lee said they made the most of local walks and access to national parks in lieu of being able to go on their usual weekend camping adventures.
Also like many other Australian households, the family welcomed a new member during the lockdown: toy cavoodle puppy Coconut, who became the overnight star of Ms Lee’s Facebook feed.
“The puppy has been the biggest change in my life. This was just good timing,” she said.
“It was probably harder to get a puppy in this time, because everyone seemed to have that same idea (and) thought ‘well, we want one anyway, so this is a good opportunity to all bond with it’.
“I’m lucky that I still work from home, so it’s not going to be a huge change for the dog when things go back to normal.”
Ms Lee said Oskar and Freja both enjoyed being home and the family played a lot more card and board games.
Reading more than usual is one benefit the Sydney family planned to keep alive.
“Oskar’s loving a new series of books he’s been devouring, Wings of Fire dragon series, and Bob’s been reading all the classics, Roald Dahls and Black Beauty and Winnie the Pooh.”
They also celebrated a special milestone in every child’s life.
“Bob finally learnt to ride a bike without training wheels because we had the time to let her,” Ms Lee said.
WHAT WE’VE ENJOYED DURING LOCKDOWN
Spending more time with my children: 27 per cent
Playing board games: 14 per cent
Saving time on my commute: 37 per cent
Cooking more at home: 39 per cent
Having more time to exercise: 23 per cent
Spending less: 48 per cent
Greater flexibility in how I work: 30 per cent
Home improvements: 26 per cent
How likely are you to continue with these changes as we return to normality?
Very likely: 17 per cent
Quite likely: 66 per cent
How do you feel about the return to normality?
Excited: 19 per cent
Happy: 24 per cent
Positive: 42 per cent
Source: Humaniti is a personal finance app that rewards its customers for participating in market research.