As the UK lockdown continues, bars, restaurants, and cinemas remain closed, your shopping habits are increasingly subject to scrutiny, and your exercise routine is no longer regulated by your own willpower but by government decree.
You might find the lack of choice strangely liberating, freeing you from social obligations and the feelings of guilt associated with a quiet night in.
On the other hand, you might be feeling trapped and stifled, on constant lookout for new ways to fill your day, turning to technology to satisfy your need for social contact.
Most likely you’ll be feeling a combination of the two, with things you miss and others that your freed-up time has allowed you to explore or rediscover.
There might also be elements of ‘normal’ life you miss, that you never thought you would.
Here are seven things you weren’t expecting to miss in lockdown.
1. Visitors dropping in
Whether it was your children or grandchildren, that unexpected key in the lock or banging of the back door that announced the arrival of a visitor has temporarily ceased.
A delivery of groceries has to be preceded by a detailed video call to ensure the correct products are purchased, and knowing the shopping is on its way removes the element of surprise.
Likewise, the ban on unnecessary travel eliminates the blink-and-you-miss-it visit to raid the fridge, borrow a drill or return that borrowed dress.
As much as they were a whirlwind, throwing everything into chaos for the duration of their visit, the social-distanced catch-up through an open window isn’t the same.
It’s not just the spontaneity of the young adults in your life; your own ability to act wilfully has been subdued too.
Your new daily routine might be strict, in line with the recommendations from psychologists advocating the need to develop a ‘new normal’ but even though your daily structure is in place, its markers have changed.
Book clubs and quiz nights and theatre trips have been replaced by carefully arranged ‘virtual’ versions. The spontaneous trip to the shops for a snack, or to the library for a new book, is out.
Whether or not you thought yourself particularly spontaneous pre-lockdown, you’ll be missing the option now.
3. Being unavailable
As well as missing social contact, you might find yourself missing being unavailable too.
With very little in the way of pressing engagements with which to fill your days, missing a knock at the door or a phone call from a relative is suddenly harder to justify. You can only ‘pop out’ for an hour a day, and as much as you might try to limit screen-time, you’re likely more chained to your tablet or phone than ever before.
Closing the curtains, turning your phone off and putting up a virtual ‘Do not disturb’ sign is tough, especially with loved ones worrying and looking out for you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t miss a bit of quiet time.
4. Going to the gym
Maybe you weren’t ever a regular gym-goer as such, but it turns out that you’d always meant to go. It’s not that you miss going, it’s not having the option that really riles.
With exercise restricted to an hour a day and walking, cycling or running the suggested forms, our physical wellbeing has become less a choice and more a mandated task, essential but fraught with danger, balancing the need for a walk with running the gauntlet of social distancing.
5. Talking about Brexit
Remember when the news was full of only one thing, and that thing was Brexit? It was unavoidable. In shopping queues and restaurants and at dinner parties, as sure-fire a conversation-stopper as it was an argument-starter.
It’s all quiet on the Brexit front at the moment.
On every front, in fact.
6. Talking about things not related to Brexit
Not only do we not have Brexit to talk about, we don’t have anything else beyond coronavirus and lockdown to talk about either.
Film releases have been put back, theatre runs cancelled and sporting events postponed for the foreseeable future.
Everything from politics, to the arts, and celebrity gossip has taken an understandable back seat.
From Sir Keir Starmer’s cabinet to the machinations of the Kardashian family, you’ll have a lot to catch up on when the lockdown is lifted.
It’s not that weekends have been cancelled. They’re still there, they’re just completely indistinguishable from the rest of the week.
Whether you’re retired, working from home, home-schooling or in self-isolation, days inevitably blend into one when your outlook is the same four walls.
However hard you’re trying to maintain a new routine, when the weekend comes around, it’s still difficult to fight the urge to get ready for something – to book a table, dress up and prepare to head out.
And without a Saturday, Sunday – the day of rest on the sofa, recovering from the night before with a film and very little else to do – doesn’t feel earned, somehow.