A new life after lockdown
For some, lockdown was a challenging and stressful time. For others, it was incredibly positive and life-changing. Stephanie Ockhuysen asked people what lockdown taught them and how they’ll live differently because of it.
33, owner of Tartan Rose Cakery and Deli, New Plymouth
I was in a really bad way right before lockdown.
I’d just come out of a crazy, busy wedding season, I wasn’t having any days off and some of the days I would spend 16 hours plus on my feet. I was just sore and tired and grumpy and unhappy.
It wasn’t great for my staff either. I know I was awful before lockdown and it’s not good for staff to see their boss that stressed.
What’s the point in having a business if it’s making you unhappy?
Lockdown was filled with sleep and made me realise the business doesn’t have to rule your life and you can make changes and make it work for you.
Lockdown made me realign the business and make those changes because the thought of going back to what I was doing gave me so much anxiety.
We’re going to be closed Sundays and Mondays for now with reduced hours and if it wasn’t for lockdown I wouldn’t have made those changes.
It’s still going to be long hours because I’m busy, but just knowing that you’re going to have a couple of days off for some downtime doesn’t make the long days quite as exhausting.
I used to be a long distance runner and I’ve just been too exhausted to run but I’ve been running almost every day in lockdown and it just makes me feel so much better about myself.
So I’m making better priorities and making sure I get away from the business. I literally didn’t have a life outside the business for a year-and-a-half.
I’ve got my enthusiasm for baking back and it’s going to be better for the business in the long term. Rob Green
Retired, New Plymouth
At 72, I steadfastly refused to feel as though I was totally isolated. I objected to anyone suggesting I was in the elderly and vulnerable group.
I didn’t have people going shopping for me, I continued doing my shopping just as I always had done.
I’ve got neighbours around, and we would sit out and have neighbourly gatherings over a glass of wine or two.
But generally, it’s been a bit of a pain, and I was very pleased to get out.
However, I’ve found it’s amazing I can just survive financially on the pension if I stop going out for coffees and gatherings.
I’m a parishioner at Taranaki Cathedral so that weekly community, that weekly church has been lost, but we survived with an online church service.
I’ve discovered how good Zoom is. We’ve had coffee gatherings of the church community held over Zoom and several meetings held on Zoom and it’s amazing because people can be all over the country.
The meetings I’ve had over Zoom run perhaps even better than the ones where everyone is gathered together.
I think it’s underscored how frenetic our consumer life has become over the years and this lockdown has caused us to have a reset and think very carefully about ‘do we need that or have we been brainwashed into thinking we need it?’.
It’s a good wake-up call from that point of view. I’m hoping this reset moment might actually convince people life is a bit more about basics and not so much about consumerism.
It’s already making me think carefully about what my financial activity is going to be.
My heart thinks when people start going back and using the old measurements of how we’re doing like growth and GDP, well actually, that’s going to be bad for us in the long run.
GDP doesn’t measure the power of community support activities or parents staying home and looking after kids.
I also learnt the value of dentists after two fillings fell out. Kaylee Mihaljevich
16, Ha¯ wera High School student
Lockdown was really weird for me as I’m a really busy person. I’m usually doing three sports, I’ve got school and it was just a chance for me to do nothing.
It taught me that I really need a break sometimes and the importance of taking a second, having a bit of extra sleep, having a bath, or reading a book, just something to relax, so I’m not always on the move.
It made me realise I can do a lot of fitness from home. I’ve always done a lot of sports to keep busy but
instead I’ve been doing a lot of running which gives me time to think about things and that’s my moment of chill.
I did a lot of research on the importance of sleep while I was in lockdown, because I had a lot of time, and I learnt the importance of not using your phone so much because of the blue light coming from it so reading has become my way of falling asleep at night now instead of my phone and I’ll keep that up.
There were a lot of new habits like cooking dinner which I now do a couple of nights a week.
I’ve become vegetarian over the isolation break so that’s a bit of a change for me and being able to cook my own food because not all my family is vegetarian.
Lockdown was a bit of a challenge because I’m quite a people person and I did crave a bit of attention, but the first day back at school and interacting with people was really weird.
Having everyone around you constantly, there’s always someone asking you a question and just the constant people was weird as I went from a bubble of four to a school of 700.
Beth, 44, Brian, 48, Simone, 12, and Libby, 9.
Beth: As communications manager for the Taranaki District Health Board I was gearing up to tackle this huge workload while the rest of my family’s world was coming to a grinding halt.
My husband and I did a complete role reversal. He became a stay-at-home dad whilst I spent long hours working. My husband enjoyed being at home quite a lot which surprised him and he struggled to go back to work.
Because I wasn’t actually there that much, any hours at home became really precious and I loved that quality time of just chilling or going off on adventures by foot or bike.
It was really cool to get to know the people in our community better and after 10 years of living in Whalers Gate we discovered Barrett Domain on our back doorstep.
Post-lockdown we’ll be making more of a habit to get out as a family, and get out on our bikes and adventure walks.
Lockdown was a real eyeopener for me because it actually highlighted that Mum doesn’t necessarily need to be around all the time for the household to run efficiently.
My daughters have always been independent, but they really had to step up and be a bit more resourceful, and they’ve done more cooking and cleaning than they’ve done in their whole lives.
We learnt we can cook seven days a week. We don’t always want to, but we can.
We managed to save money from no frivolous spending, and easily connected to friends and family via technology. In fact, we were in touch more.
We absolutely did not miss our chaotic, busy lives of squeezing in work, school, sport, social commitments, and trying to get away.
They’re things we know we should be doing anyway, but life gets busy, and we don’t prioritise the important things we should and it’s taken this lockdown pause moment for our family to fully appreciate what we’ve got, assess what we need to get by, and reevaluate what we don’t need.
47, migrated from Malaysia with his family in 2015
The lockdown was a whole new experience for the family. Things were just not like our normal.
My wife Donna and I had to sort out working spaces for us both and separate areas for our two boys, Nicholas, 11, and Caden, 9, to do home school.
Donna and I took turns helping the children with their school assignments and all meals were cooked at home.
After two weeks in lockdown the kids would come out with their lunch requests – mostly consisting of sandwiches, fish and chips, burgers and occasionally frozen pizzas with juices and a fruit or salad.
We certainly saved time on travelling to and from work and that has added more value time with the family.
The lockdown made us mentally stronger as a family, united us and has given us more patience for one another.
We missed our family, friends and neighbours, especially the children, so allowed them to make WhatsApp or Zoom video calls to their friends over the weekend and after school. It helped them keep in touch and share stuff like what they had for lunch, board games they played and also managed to exchange ideas on some study assignments.
Lockdown helped us realise previously we had overpurchased food, and we also saved hugely on petrol. Before lockdown we spent an average of $250 a week on groceries and allocated $200 a week on eating out and takeaways.
However, during lockdown we spent just $600 on groceries, purchasing only what we needed, which lasted us a month.
We’ve started to do more home cooking and when it comes to grocery shopping purchase only what is needed. Lockdown allowed us to teach our children to cook and bake – such as chocolate cake – and learning basic cooking skills like cutting onions and carrots.
With the money saved we are planning to explore our own backyard this July school holidays. It’s time to help the tourism and communities affected by Covid 19.
Working right through lockdown, every minute at home became precious time that Beth Findlay-Heath could spend with her daughters Libby and Simone and husband Brian.
Lockdown brought Duncan Yeow's family together and helped them save money.
Tartan Rose Cakery and Deli owner Abbey Macfie has now decided to close the cafe on Sundays and Mondays to better look after herself. ANDY JACKSON/STUFF
Rob Green says he hopes lockdown has taught people there is much more to life than shopping.
Kaylee Mihaljevich, 16, says lockdown taught her she can take a minute to relax.
The Heath family intend on continuing with their mountain biking missions post-lockdown.
Macfie says lockdown made her realise she didn’t have to pour everything in to her business.