Lockdown is lifting, schools have gone back and Facebook is seemingly littered with pictures of friends hugging. The school bus is packed full of children, with only a couple wearing a mask. The school bubble includes 100 children. People are drunk in nightclubs.
Many of us are asking what happened to social distancing? Some of us are feeling uncomfortable when we go out. And some of us have experienced awkward situations. It would seem that there is quite some scope when it comes to interpreting the rules.
"Having been back in the office this week, I have noticed so many different interpretations to the same rules, and a whole range of emotions from staff."
There is a sense in our community, that for a while (during lockdown) we were on some kind of level playing field with the rest of the population - with everyone being told to stay indoors! But now things are returning to 'normal', we are sometimes finding ourselves in awkward situations. With many carers still mindful of the vulnerable people they are looking after.
"I'd been invited for drinks in my friend's garden. When I got there, it was a house full and I was greeted with a hug and a kiss. I couldn't believe they hadn't thought to be upfront about things. I felt so uncomfortable."
It got us to thinking about how we can retain some control, how we manage ourselves (emotionally and practically) in those 'awkward' situations, and how we don't end up feeling resentful!
Getting on the front foot
Taking control and being the organiser of things, can reduce the amount of 'difficult' situations we find ourself in. And speaking up, helps friends and family understand what we're comfortable with.
Think ahead if we are seeing friends - tell them what would work for us - don't be afraid to confidently say what we need. Rather than being anxious or cross about it behind the scenes.
Be the person to arrange the get together - giving us control over the number of people being invited, the setting (e.g. in a garden) - and any other precautions we would like to take.
Have our leaving the house kit at the ready - a bag with face masks, hand gel, a pen (use your own not someone else's - also good for entering pin numbers, using touch screens in shops). It's the equivalent of the Scout's "Be Prepared" motto!
"I'm going to be brave and ask my friend to serve our crisps in separate bowls on Saturday night! I missed out last time and crisps are important to me!"
When things go wrong
Sometimes things still go wrong. We turn up at an event, like a drink at a friends, and find it's more of a house party - or we get on the bus, only to find that no-one is wearing a mask.
Let off steam, have a rant if it helps. Who is our 'go to' person for a rant? But then regroup and work out how we can avoid the same thing happening again.
Don't be afraid to politely say if we are feeling uncomfortable. Make adjustments that work for us or politely explain that we have to leave.
When it comes to family and friends, the advice was not to assume they have done anything deliberately. 'Thoughtless' maybe, but we hope not deliberate! Sometimes just a gentle reminder is all that is needed.
And remember, the fear of asking for help is not uncommon in our carer community. Here are 10 things carers love (or would love) their friends and family to do. What would you add?
Let us know your tips for navigating the new normal! Join the discussion here.