Staying at Home: Aoife McNamara, Limerick fashion designer

Rebecca Laffan


Rebecca Laffan


Staying at Home: Aoife McNamara, Limerick fashion designer

How often do you leave the house?
I’m lucky to live in the countryside, so I usually go out maybe twice a day for a run and a walk. The roads around me are really quiet so I don’t meet anyone along the way.

Are you getting up at the usual time?
This is really hard right now. I always work from home, but often I would be having meetings or I’d be going up to Dublin. I am finding it that bit harder to get up, I would usually go to the gym at 7am and have a class booked. So I’m finding it harder to wake up without having appointments made or something booked in. I’ve gotten better since last week

If you have had to cease your main job, or most aspects of it, are there any work-related things you can do? Like paperwork, accounts etc?
I don’t have an office outside of home - my office is here! I can do everything from here, all my accounts and things like that are done on my computer anyway so it’s very handy.

What do you think of the government response?
I think it’s been great, and I think they’re doing a great job. I got so emotional watching Leo Varadkar’s St Patrick’s Day speech. I think it’s down to the people, the government are doing everything they can at the moment. It’s just down to people being silly and I think that’s why we’re going to have to have a lockdown.

What do you think is being done well and what could be done better by the authorities?
They’re informing us really well on what’s happening, there’s doctors informing us and they’re letting us know what’s happening overseas in places like Italy too. It’s making poeple realise, ‘okay, this isn’t a joke. We have to stay home’. In shops I don’t think people are taking it seriously, I think they really need to lock down on things like retail workers being protected and being more strict on only letting a certain amount of people in to the shop at a time.

How are you managing stress and anxiety?
Exercise is what works for me, and it always has been. I run first thing in the morning. It’s just so important to get out of the house, obviously only if you can. But you can work out from home, influencers are putting up so many home workout videos. I’ve found meditation really helpful, I’m still new to it but it’s lovely to just sit and relax for a while. There’s so many great apps out there than help with meditation. Even if you’re not active, starting with yoga or something like that is really good - anything that gets the heart rate up is really important.

Getting more household chores done?
I’m now doing all those things that I’ve been putting off for months and months or even years. I’ve gutted out my room and now I’m doing my studio. I know a lot of people are tackling these annoying jobs that they’ve put off for ages. Now’s the time to take a step back and take a look around you and think of what needs to be done, which we rarely get a chance to do normally as we’re just all so busy.

How are you switching off?
I’ve found that turning my phone off an hour or two before I go to bed is really helpful. I’m not perfect, and sometimes I don’t and get caught up in scrolling like anyone does but the few times I’ve left my phone downstairs or at the otherside of the room I’ve found it to be so beneficial. Reading a book before bed and then in the morning giving yourself some time before you reach for your phone is a great idea and really helps me to switch off. Being an hour late to answer an email isn’t going to make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things, and that’s an hour that you’ve used for yourself and your own mental wellbeing.

Are you missing social contact?
It’s so hard. It’s only been two weeks, but I miss my friends. It’s very much a case of when you want something that you can’t have you just end up wanting it even more. I’m lucky I have a big family here at home, there’s six of us and we live in the country so we’re not too isolated. I’m quite lucky in that way, I can still walk outside around my house and up the road. Having to have Skype meetings with my manufacturer over Skype is hard too.

What is the thing you are missing the most about self-isolating and social distancing?
Just meet my friends, to be able to just go for a coffee or a walk with them and not think about it. It’s the small things.

What precautions are you taking when shopping?
So I wear rubber gloves, and I don’t wear a mask but I do either wear a high-necked top or scarf that covers my mouth. When I come back I take my shoes and coat off in a separate room and we have hand sanitiser just inside the door. My parents are really focusing on it, they’re in their sixties so we have to protect them.

What is your best advice for people staying at home at this time?
Schedule your day, and I mean hour by hour. Write down every little thing you do, from your morning vitamins to your emails and your exercise. Use Google Calendar, or write it down physically. I swear you’ll notice an improvement on how much you get done in a day. Have three main things you want to get done in a day and allocate time for them so you feel productive. Plan the night before instead of the morning, take some time to just write down what you want to achieve.

What’s the one thing you are looking forward to most when this is all over?
As I said earlier I just want to be able to see friends. Or being able to go to a fabric shop and pick fabrics in person. Even booking a flight to go fabric picking in Paris, just all these things I take for granted. I’m just looking forward to having freedom again, like everyone else.