A new SBS Voices special series 'Love in Lockdown' explores how couples and singles are navigating love and relationships during Australia's coronavirus restrictions. In episode one, SBS Voices talks to three couples on one special lockdown ritual they use to keep bonded (and stay sane) as they navigate working and living from home.
ERIC AND TAYO - Ice cream time
Tayo Robinson, 40, is a solicitor in the water industry. Her husband Eric Robinson, 41, is the Associate Director for Inclusion within Brisbane’s Catholic archdiocese. The Brisbane-based couple have been married since 2006. They have three children aged 8, 5 and 1, and also live with Eric’s 76-year-old father. They are currently both working from home in addition to home-schooling their children. They are managing to bond every night over one thing - ice cream.
At the end of the day when the kids go to bed. I usually get some ice cream out and we share it and watch our favourite shows and talk. This is when we’re planning the day and we have a chance to discuss how we’re feeling and what we can do to help each other the next day, so we are on the same side. It’s important. I really look forward to it! By the end of the day we’re exhausted. We’ve had full days at work, assisting my father-in-law with the kids and their schooling. I’m hanging out for ice cream time. It’s awesome.
Ice cream time for us is really kind of ice cream time for Tayo, and I kind of just chime in (laughs). Tayo is always happier at that moment, with the ice cream, so the house is happier and all is well. We usually just have a chat about how the kids are going and how we feel they are dealing with everything that is happening at the moment. The whole COVID-19 is a brand new situation that I don’t think anyone in the world was prepared for, so any little thing that we can find that is a de-stressor and gives us a chance to unwind and have a laugh [is great].
It’s such an intense atmosphere in the air and at home. We try to keep up the joyfulness, playfulness and humour in our house and try to counteract the energy that hangs in the air. We are learning pretty quick to switch off from a constant news feed.
FRANCISCO AND ZAC - Brunch on the balcony
Francisco Lopez, 38, an actor and healthcare administrator, and Zac Lopez, 37, training administrator, have been married since 2016. Francisco works from home, and Zac is continuing to commute, but the couple’s ritual weekend brunch now happens on the balcony of their Sydney flat.
Our special couple bonding ritual is Saturday brunch on the balcony. Sometimes during the week we have different schedules so we just get up and have a quick breakfast, but on Saturday morning we just kind of mosey out of bed. We head into the kitchen still in our pajamas. Zac puts on the Turkish coffee. I put on the toast and then we make scrambled eggs and avo.
I think during the COVID period that we now live in, so much happens in the one room, the one apartment, so stepping out in the balcony kind of tricks our minds into thinking we are out and about; that’s how we get through things. It makes us remember there are still different weekdays. We are spending more time together during this COVID period. One the one hand, it’s a great thing. On the other, it can be more pressure, so I think that having the Saturday brunch just makes it light and fun. It feels like we are acting out a first date.
We hang for this brunch session, because pre-COVID it was such a treat to be able to go to a nice café with freshly made coffee and just sit there for an hour and just chat. It’s just really good for our mental health and our relationship. We always say communication is one of our biggest strengths. Fran taught me the importance of talking through everything. The first thing we will do after this COVID period is have brunch! Somewhere nice. Everyone has their thing whether it’s a holiday or whatever. For us it’s the simple tradition of our weekly nice brekky together, and to be able to connect and chat.
JENEVIEVE AND TK - Living room improv night
Jenevieve Chang, 42, works in the screen industry and her husband Teik Kim 'TK' Pok, 40 is a performer/producer. They have a seven-month old son Darius. Jenevieve is on maternity leave and TK is working from home.
We're both from artistic backgrounds. Now we're currently in more desk-bound jobs, and at home under lockdown. A form of living room improv has basically inserted itself into our bedtime routine for our son Darius. It’s a mix between word salad improv and just song-jamming to create a spontaneous lullaby. I get Jen to throw me a few words and try and write lyrics around the word but also another thing I do is kind of like, you know, that game, 'I-spy-with-my-little eye'?. Sometimes I pick something out, like a title from a book I spy on the bookshelf and I’ll try to add more words from that as well and jumble it up. We just want to create any story for him. It’s been a way to stay connected to each other, to the things that make us smile and to entertain and connect with this little one as well. We're all seeking connection in this time, and this is a beautiful way to strengthen those connections, telling stories, singing to each other, things we fall out of practice of doing. For sure, Darius is one of the toughest audiences that we’ve ever had!
Having a new baby and being in lockdown means our lives have become very routine dependent. Our living room improvs takes me back to when we first met - eight years ago when we were performing together. There’s nothing sexier to me right now then someone who can put my baby to bed as soon as possible. I never know what three words I’m going to choose, and what song TK will make out of it, so it's nice to have this little ritual where we get to add an element of surprise back in. Darius' bedtime routine is tightly choreographed by now. We start off every night with a bath which helps get Darius in the mood to be entertained. Following bath time, we put him in his rocker so he is comfortable and then we raise the curtains on Mummy and Daddy, so to speak. Three words, and a spontaneous song. It's all about keeping things moving and entertaining, and to amuse ourselves as well. We have fun with it, because you know, some of the lyrics are pretty hilarious, and I usually get up and have a bit of a jig as well.
As told to Sarah Malik. Interviews have beed edited and condensed for clarity. This video is Episode One of a new three-part SBS Voices special series 'Love in Lockdown' exploring how couples and singles are navigating relationships under coronavirus restrictions. Episode two and three will be out weekly.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household. If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.
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