For Sydney-based designer Rachel Gilbert, the COVID lockdown has created a sense of calm she hasn’t felt in years.
“My life pre-COVID was extremely busy – I was always rushing and consistently pressured by deadlines I would mostly put on myself,” Rachel says.
“I hadn’t realised what I was missing by taking the time to slow down and appreciate moments, successes, and simple tasks such as sitting with my girls and playing snap or Barbies.
“Connecting with (husband) Tom and the girls with no distractions has been a time I have been incredibly grateful for.”
Always up for a challenge, Rachel and her daughters used their time at home together to build a vegetable garden. Lockdown also gave Rachel the chance to flex her culinary skills and score a few wins in the kitchen. “Cooking is not my forte, so this was BIG!” she adds.
The designer channeled her creativity to redesign some rooms in her home, and to make vases and sculptures from clay.
While Pilates, yoga and bush-walks have always been part of Rachel’s regular exercise routine, over the past few months she has spent more time meditating and reading, a habit she says she’s now prioritising.
Post-lockdown, she’s also keen to see more flexibility in order to create a work/life balance, both for herself and her team.
“Maybe it’s slowing down a little, spending more time with my family, or upping the ante on my meditation. Whatever the source, coming out of isolation, I have felt an undeniable shift in my life and attitude – I have a sense of control and calmness I have not felt in years.”
Isolation has given effervescent beauty director and author Stephanie Darling an opportunity to slow her pace of life and once again fall in love with reading.
“I got out of the groove but I’ve now devoured four books in as many weeks,” Stephanie says.
Stephanie says the lockdown has also motivated her to up her exercise regime.
“I have been lazy for so long, but with isolation I now walk Moby (the family Labrador) around Centennial Park every morning and play tennis at least once a week. It’s a routine I am definitely going to keep up.”
The beauty director for Sunday Life, Stephanie has been introducing more home treatments into her beauty regime and sharing some of the experiences with her readers.
“Taking time out to slow things down has meant that I’ve got lots of pleasure out of my beauty routines. I have become much better at self-pampering and am doing regular masking, both facial and hair.
“I’ve also done my makeup up every morning as you should never let standards slip. You never know who you might run into – even if they are 1.5 metres away!”
But while Stephanie has been happy to adopt a slower pace of living, she knows the lockdown been harder for her two sons, both in their twenties.
“This is a time when they should be socialising on every single level and that has been totally out of reach. As my son Harrison, who lives in London said, ’It’s like ground hog day!’
“I miss him so much and the thought of not being able to get on a plane and see him is physically painful.”
Designer and jeweller Lucy Folk has a simple take-out from the past two months: “I think we need to spend more time nurturing each other and our environment. Slow down. Stop and smell the roses. Listen more. Be present!”
Based in Noosa Heads with her French boyfriend during the lockdown, Lucy says the experience has made her value space more than ever.
“I’m grateful to be in a house with beautiful light, close to nature. It has made me realise how strong the power of nature is on my mood.”
As restrictions ease, Lucy says she plans to keep up her home cooking.
“I find the ritual of cooking very therapeutic. It’s healthier and you can control exactly what goes into your body which is very important to me.”
More time at home has seen the introduction of new kitchen practices, with the couple planning meals to make sure they don’t waste food.
“We store everything in glass. We wrap our herbs in moist paper towel to prolong their life and we make our own plant-based milks,” Lucy explains.
Lucy’s also introduced some changes to her beauty regime during isolation. “I basically wear no makeup which would be good to continue. I’m rotating body moisturisers to ensure that my skin doesn’t get used to one product – variety can enhance hydration. I also stopped using anything in plastic.”
Designer Rebecca Vallance is hoping to maintain some new rituals in her home life as the lockdown ends, including family breakfasts.
“I’ve really enjoyed having my husband home each morning to have breakfast with the children and me. We’re going to try to keep this up moving forward,” Rebecca says, adding that she’s also appreciated the chance to enjoy a glass of red wine with her husband at the end of each night
“As I travel a lot for work I feel like I’ve got back some of the quality time with my children that I’ve missed out on prior. It’s been so wonderful.
“We’ve definitely spent more quality time in our garden playing with the children. I’ve also started cooking again and remembered how much I love it.”
But while there’s more play time at home, exercising hasn’t been as successful, Rebecca says.
“I’ve realised I need to exercise out of the house with an instructor or as a part of a group for motivation – I am definitely too easily distracted exercising at home!
On the beauty front, Rebecca has had more time to focus on her skin care routine and has learnt to tint her own eyelashes and eyebrows, though she declares she has no intention of continuing that practice.
The designer says the COVID lockdown experience has been a great reminder that life is short and no one is invincible.
“Our planet is so delicate and we need to treat it with love and care and not take it for granted.
“As humans we need to be able to deal with change quickly, adapt and be agile.”
For the past few months Genevieve Smart has had a new a sign-off on her emails: “Sent from my living room as we work Business as Unusual”.
The Co-Founder & Creative Director of Ginger & Smart, Genevieve says that working remotely from home has been surprisingly productive for her – thanks in part to her husband Aidan’s disciplined approach to handling his own WFH routine as well as their children’s home learning.
Time out during the lockdown has seen Genevieve and her daughter, Poppy, exercising in the lounge room.
“We got quite into YouTube ab challenges, and Saturday night ping pong comps on the dining room table have been fierce.”
The experience has left Genevieve with a deeper appreciation for the family home.
“I’ve loved being at home more and noticing the leaves change colour with the season.
“Usually I see all the things I’d like to change at home, but through Covid I’ve felt really grateful to be in a home I love, surrounded by pieces of art and books we’ve collected over the years.”