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Lockdown: From crisis to opportunity

Why I am determined to use lockdown as an opportunity to emerge stronger as a family and hopefully acquire new skills along the way

With the lockdown, scuseme has had to pause our normal service.  We have scuseme SOS to provide online DIY assistance. Besides that, I am working on some fundamental website development projects, and catching up on strategic and administrative jobs. But still scuseme business does not fill my working day.

However, I’ve never been busier. COVID-19 has made me prioritise other things, and I’m finding that (admittedly only three weeks in) I’m making the most of it and focusing on the positive.  I realise I am pretty lucky.  My sister is working on the frontline as a nursing sister at the sharp end, in the Emergency Department, but we are all fit and healthy so far. I have all my family with me: husband Nick, sons Sol and Leon, and daughter Rosie. I also have my 80-year old Dad living with us, recovering from major surgery, which has made us all acutely aware of the need to isolate.

Family life

Our family is starting to work better together as a unit, everyone ‘mucking in’, as we share out all household chores.  I’m not saying that everyone rushes to wash the dishes, but we have a rota, and that works well enough – most of the time.  Funnily enough, the job that everyone is now most keen to do, is to take the dogs out for a walk.

Mealtimes are now a time to come together, and the dining room table provides our social hub (the need for routine for my Dad has been really good for this). Three weeks ago, if I had suggested doing a jigsaw puzzle, colouring for grown-ups, or building a lego model around the kitchen table, I may have got my partner to join me, the kids would have called me ‘lame’: today it’s not so boring!

With no friends to go out and meet, I can see that my kids are building stronger bonds between one another. The boys have set up a gym in our small back garden to keep fit. They now also give PT sessions to Rosie.  She has never been to a gym and even when the bar on the bench-press had no weights on ☹ she finds it hard to lift, so they have a job on their hands. Nick benefits too and will use this time to maintain his fitness. Leon has also taken on the important responsibility of supporting his grandad while he does his daily physio and exercise following his heart surgery.

Staying connected

Daily exercise is also essential to me. I need it for health and well-being, but it also really helps me structure my day. The boot camp that I love is now set up online and it’s great: actually, waking up at 6.30 am for a class is not so bad when all I have to do is stumble downstairs. I applaud and am so grateful to the many businesses, such as boot camp Lisa and yoga Marina that have adapted to accommodate an online audience and fulfill an important need during the lockdown. Nick’s Italian lessons are all on Zoom now, and we have several remote social events planned.

With fewer hours working on scuseme, I can now do some of the things I call, ‘value-added’.  For example, I have been learning Italian for several years, but I have not made much progress recently and am a little stale. So I will use this period of social isolation to practice and make some significant improvements and brush up on my French with Alliance Francaise.

Keeping on-track

Sol has been loving his intern year in industry and is continuing his dedicated role working from home. I am so proud to see how he remains focused and structures his day. I am also quite envious of the clear agenda and targets he has set to meet. In contrast, as an entrepreneur, I have to set my own goals. Without the structure of work, I need to start each day with a to-do list. The key to making this work is to make it achievable. You must be able to complete your list to gain some sense of satisfaction each day.

To help me with my business goals I am continuing with certain networking and learning groups. Scuseme is supported by Hatch Enterprise through its incubator programme and since the lockdown, we now work remotely with regular online meet-ups to check we are on track to deliver our social impact goals.  Alongside this, I connect with a business support colleague, Clare Morris, as well as other fellow-entrepreneurs Dani (Let’s Run Girls) and Hannah (Fen Ditton Gallery) and now benefit from continuing sharing of ideas. This business community is a lifeline and will be instrumental in getting scuseme back up to speed in the aftermath of COVID-19.

Emerging stronger from lockdown

Of course, this is all an almighty challenge. The kids are not always the angels I paint them here.  The neighbours are privy to some pretty robust language of late. Each child has a permanent relationship with their smart device: competing with screen time is a battle I sadly lost a long time ago. But we’re finding a balance, and Dad has been a great influence on us all. Without a doubt, we will all emerge from lockdown and COVID-19 changed in many ways. I am determined that these be for the positive. We’ll just have to see.

Stay safe and well and let me know how you are getting on.

Dawn Giesler, is the founder of scuseme Cambridge, an online marketplace that connects you with personally vetted tradespeople in your community. She has lived in Cambridge for over 20 years and offers advice based on her own experiences. For more information visit scuseme

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