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  • Natalie Johnson

Routines (or lack of) in Quarantine

At 11am every morning my Mam bleaches her door knobs. At 1130 she calls to tell me all about it, and ask me what’s new. My answer every day unsurprisingly is… not much. This has become my quarantine routine, and lately I’ve been thinking whether this is the response I’d like to offer to what one day might be a question from my future children… “What did you do with your time?”


Routines at the moment are strange, they feel simultaneously like all we have and something impossible to apprehend. As a creative working in the theatre industry, my job somewhat disappeared over night, and ever since I’ve been trying to fill my time with meaningful activities and things to aid a progression in my career, but mostly I’ve been trying to adhere to some sort of routine.


At the beginning that felt like quarantine 101. All the experts, those who already worked from home, even my beloved mother cleaning the door knobs, said it was imperative to maintain some structure in our lives, the ever important routine. So far I can’t say I’ve been too successful, not in the long term anyway.


One week my routine consisted of non-stop crafting. I literally couldn’t stop doing macrame. I know it’s not the sob story anyone expected but my hands were cramped, and my eyes strained. The next was constant exercise. I ran everyday to somewhere I could safely do a workout and a yoga session. Of course, much like my plank, this too did not last long. Then I missed my job, so I enrolled in online courses and started model making for no reason. I’ve done all the ‘things’. I baked, I quizzed, I conquered. I Zoom therefore I am. Yet when I’m not sticking to a structure I panic… I’m doing this all wrong!


Macrame Skills, Definitely Worth It


So I started to think that in fact those people telling me I must stick to a routine are the ones who are doing it all wrong. At least for me. I envy those who have found a daily structure that works for them (I’m looking at you Mark Wahlberg). But for me, the internal battle for normality was taking up a lot of my time, effort and mental capacity, and now I think maybe I should just see how I feel everyday and do whatever takes my fancy at the time. Today that’s writing out my thoughts and feelings that I deem important and interesting enough to other people. You’re so welcome.


But then, as per the emotional spiral that is the current situation, my panic took a new turn when I began rewatching Desperate Housewives. Bree Van Der Kamp does it. She cleans in the morning, does her dry cleaning, prepares dinner, tends to her garden, engages in her hobbies, and she does this everyday, quite happily. Then I thought maybe she’s just had longer to perfect The Routine.


Or maybe she’s not living through a global pandemic.


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