It’s been 100 days since the girls last went to school. 100 days since we effectively went into lockdown. For most of that, we have stayed home, only starting to venture out a bit more over the past few weeks.
Everyone has their own different experience of lockdown. For some, this time has been life changing, whether through illness, loss of a loved one, loss of a job or business, or through the impact that isolation has had on mental health. For others, it’s been an opportunity to slow down and experience a different pace of life. But theres no denying that it has had it’s ups and downs.
For us, personally, we have managed pretty well. Sure, homeschooling two children while running around after a toddler isn’t always a (socially distanced) walk in the park, but for the most part we have done okay. It’s been hard not seeing family and friends, but we’ve tried to make the most of the time we have had together just the five of us.
Josie has adapted very well – she is just enjoying having her big sisters home all the time. Clara was pretty nonchalant about the whole thing until about week 9 or 10 when she started having the odd meltdown about missing school and her friends. Izzy has found it hard not being able to see her friends and there have been a few tears but generally she has just plodded on. And me? Well I’ve learnt quite a few things during lockdown, and here’s some of them.
1. Homeschooling is hard. No sooner have I negotiated with the 6 year old and settled her down to do a task, the 9 year old needs help with some maths or English thing that I inevitably have to google, all while the toddler is practicing her loudest scream and pulling all the plastic plates out of the cupboard. Trying to explain anything to do with maths to Izzy usually ends in doors slamming. Honestly, I do not have the patience to ever be a teacher.
2. But its not as hard as I thought it would be. The schools have been amazing and they send work every day via an app, so they really have tried to make it as easy as possible for parents. Maths aside, the girls are managing to do all their work without too much drama. I’m aware that’s not the case for everyone, and that’s not to say it doesn’t have its challenges at times, but we are surviving. So I’ll take that as a win.
3. People have an overwhelming capacity for kindness. There you have all the key workers putting themselves at risk on a daily basis, and volunteers looking out for the vulnerable. People are raising money, donating their time, and doing things to bring the community together at a time when we all have to stay physically apart.
4. Yet this situation really brings out the stupid in some people. There are so many people who think the rules don’t apply to them. Sure the guidelines are a bit fuzzy now, but for the first couple of months the stay at home advice was very clear. It did not include house parties, overnight visitors and congregating on packed beaches.
5. Technology is a life saver. Never heard of Zoom before, now it’s a regular part of our vocabulary. Its allowed the girls to keep in touch with their teachers and friends, and even carry on with weekly Beaver and Cub meetings.
6. But social media is meh. Sure, it is great at connecting people, and has really helped many isolated people during lockdown. But to get to the good stuff you have to sift through the other 90% – which is full of anger, conspiracy theories, fake cures and self appointed medical experts.
7. I miss the days when Brexit dominated the headlines. Sure, it was boring and annoying, but even that was positively cheery compared to the majority of the news at the moment. It can be hard to avoid the news, especially when we are relying on social media more than ever to keep in touch with friends and family, so a quick check of your phone to reply to a message, or see how your friends have been filling their days in lockdown can lead you down a rabbit hole of statistics, rumours and heart wrenching tributes.
8. It makes you appreciate the simple pleasures, from family film nights to exploring local woodland walks. The girls and I took part in an online art class, I’ve taught Clara how to play chess and Izzy has been getting through a lot of books. You’ve got to work with what you have, and when you strip away all the excess from your schedule it leaves space for creativity.
As the weeks have gone on I’ve found it has got easier. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we have adjusted to a new normal. Some days, we bake, and paint, and camp in the living room, and go tadpole spotting, and attempt to follow a colour coded homeschooling timetable (sometimes with success). Its the picture of perfect, happy family life. But other times, it’s all we can do to just survive the day. And if surviving looks like too much screen time, lying on the floor while the kids literally run rings round me and resorting to sugar based bribery, then so be it.
We adapt. We get on with things. That said, I’m really looking forward to it being practical for the girls to go back to school, and for Josie and I to be able to continue with our playgroups and coffee dates. For now, we will carry on social distancing, staying home as much as possible and trying to make the most of this time together.
We’ve survived 100 days. Some of you may have had more bad days than good, but you made it, so take the win. And fingers crossed in another 100 days our experiences will be filled with a lot less social distancing and a lot more time with family and friends.