12 days in. It’s been 12 days now since we began a new normal our family went into self-isolation after I became unwell and developed a temperature. Whilst I am much better now, and I don’t believe I had coronavirus (just regular ill-timed lurgy!), it still meant the enforced end of what was ‘normal’ life for us, and a slightly premature end to the school and pre-school term for the children until goodness knows when.
We have now survived a whole week of schooling from home, as well as Adam and I trying to do our jobs, and whilst there have been challenging moments, it actually it hasn’t been as terrible as I thought it would be. I’ve been trying not to think too far ahead, as the thought of this being a long-term thing is incredibly daunting, so it’s very much ‘one day at a time’ in our household, and trying to make the most of all this extra time we have together.
We all miss our family and friends very much (although thank god for technology and video calling!), and I think this is the aspect that is hitting the older kids hardest. Ours are very sociable and also do a lot of sports clubs and activities. Freddie was gutted that his football season was finished (as was Adam and his own football season for that matter), and Sasha was devastated at the closure of her gymnastics club and squad training. However, humans are resourceful creatures, and I’ve been amazed by the initiative that so many people are showing when it comes to online learning and carrying on with hobbies, activities and socialising! Sasha’s gymnastics club have set challenges and routines that you can upload to Facebook each week, we’ve been following Joe Wicks’ PE sessions each morning (absolute killer on my thighs I tell ya), we’ve had several late night HouseParty app chats with friends involving drinks, and as I type Sasha is on a Zoom call with friends to celebrate a birthday party today that had to cancelled.
Whilst everyone’s situation is hard, we are definitely luckier than most. We are not the amazing key workers having to go out on the front line, and both Adam and I can do our jobs successfully from home. Because of this, I can mostly do my work in the evenings and on a weekend, therefore allowing me time to school the kids and do activities with them. We have a decent-sized home so plenty of space to not get completely under each others’ feet (although the kids still find plenty of ways to irritate each other), and I’m thanking god every day for the fact that the previous owners installed artificial grass in our garden as it’s been a godsend and like a second large room to exercise and play in. I’m not saying all this to be smug, but to appreciate and see the best in a bad situation- it could definitely be much worse. I’m also cheered by the great community spirit in our local area that I’ve seen on social media, and the clapping for the NHS the other night on our road was very emotional. Yes, some people are still being idiots and not observing social distancing, but the majority want the best for everyone and to save lives by staying in as much as possible.
When it comes to the children, we were bombarded in the run up to this past week with all kinds of resources and schedules for home schooling kids, and like many, I typed out one initially that I thought would give us our family the kind of structure we thrive on. Turns out that bloke from Twitter was right: “No one is full of false hope like the parent drawing up a colour-coded schedule during Covid-19”! The first schedule was a bit too rigid, and I found we were stop-starting a bit on school work and having to end free-flowing projects and play to go back to school work, or rushing guitar practice to start something new. I’ve since drawn up a new schedule, which is essentially PE with Joe Wicks first thing, followed by any set school work until lunchtime, and then creative projects or quiet learning/watching something educational until 3.30pm.
We aim to do as much outside as possible, and save being cooped up inside for bad weather and actual written work. After this time, screens are allowed and hanging out with friends online, plus any other usual play. After a few ‘funny’ days, we’ve actually got into the swing of things a bit more now. What has surprised me is how my whole belief system has changed around technology for the kids (admittedly temporarily!). We’ve set Freddie up with online gaming with friends on the Nintendo Switch for the first time so he can ‘meet up’ with friends and play Mario Kart or Fifa, and we’ve also resurrected an old iPhone for the kids to use the HouseParty app on to speak to friends, as it was driving me crackers having their mates call my own phone all the time! We’re obviously monitoring this carefully, but it’s been great for the kids to hang out on. Sasha’s even started doing Lego building sessions with friends whilst on it, by propping up the phone and chatting whilst building together!
I’m going to be writing more on the blog to document this time and also share what we’ve been doing in terms of learning and activities as I thought it would be great to look back on. It would be criminal to have a blog you’ve been writing for years, but not actually mention what’s been going on! This week has involved the following: Den building, online learning, Freddie and Sasha writing a book on Mario together, Lego challenges with Nanny, rediscovering all the toys they don’t usually have a chance to play with, learning about rivers, making the most of Disney Plus and all the films and documentaries on there, cooking, baking, painting, and much more.
We’re definitely making the most of being together, and without sounding cheesy, it’s been a blessing in a weird way, and I’m loving not having to ferry everyone around all the time.
It’s definitely not the 2020 we had planned, but when life gives you lemons…you have to work with them!