So, it’s been a whole week since we entered a Covid-19 induced lockdown in the UK. And it’s been over a week since my family and I inadvertently entered one in our household because, since school ended on Friday 20 March, the girls and I have been housebound apart from a daily walk. Sam has been far more “social”, but all that means is he has been out once for food shopping. It’s a very strange time.
After my initial upset over Little H finishing school, and in all likelihood her Reception year, I am slowly coming to accept the situation. The night after they announced the school closures, I couldn’t sleep as my brain whirred around how we’d manage both our jobs whilst also giving Little H a degree of schooling. I drafted a plan and the last week has been a real learning curve as we try it on for size. So far, the fit is tolerable although it pinches in places.
Sam starts work early whilst I get the girls up and fed. I tidy-up from breakfast and then take the girls out for a walk around the time we would have ordinarily been doing the school run; getting out the house for school always cleared our heads no matter how chaotic it was and I felt we’d benefit from that during these unusual times. It also means I know we’ve all had some fresh air and exercise before heading into the day. When we get back, Sam and I tag-team and he takes over with the girls for 2.5 hours through until lunch. My experience of part-time working has come in handy as I find it reasonably easy to just “switch on” to work, but I do feel the pressure to be productive quickly, more so than in the office. Meanwhile, Sam attempts to both entertain the girls and educate Little H at the same time. They start every morning doing a PE session with Joe Wickes, along with half the nation!
Lunch is now fully meal planned for the week – both for ease of shopping during these challenging times and also so I can end my working “shift” and know what I am making. I’m trying to prepare a hearty meal as much as possible because we are a hungry family. Last week was quite stressful getting some of the bits prepared so this week I am making sure to veg prep the night before.
After lunch, Little Z goes for her nap and Little H has some tablet time. Sam and I both get our heads down into some work – me for a couple of hours and him for 60 minutes before he then spends an hour with Little H. They go for a scoot and then do a bit more school activity if the mood is right. Sam then works for the last few hours through until 5:30pm (ish) whilst I get Little Z up and entertain the girls before sorting sort their dinner, which is now also meal planned.
It was an exhausting first week trying to adopt this new routine and it was a bit of a shock to my system going back to work five, albeit shorter, days. Sam is finding it strange adjusting to both a split working day, continual remote working, the background noise of the girls and having to entertain them each morning. But the first week went more smoothly than we could have hoped and the weekend felt like a joy because we could live free of the schedule and fully relax.
With life having changed so much in such a short time, it’s hard not to feel a little fed-up about what we’ve lost. In the grand scheme of things, I am very aware that most of what I find myself longing for are real first world luxuries so most days I feel a continuing underlying feeling of gratitude. But I’m not going to pretend that I don’t feel a little sad at times so here is what I miss about our normal routine:
- My kids being able to play with their friends
- School run
- Friday afternoon bakery trips after school
- Being able to pop to the shop when I need to
- Knowing that most staple foods we need will be at the shop. (A real reminder, if we needed one, of the privilege we have in the UK usually.)
- Seeing my work colleagues
There are silver-linings to most scenarios though so here and some of the positive things about lock down:
- We aren’t spending much money
- We are all eating healthily
- We’re getting good use of all of our hard earned toys
- The garden I have spent years trying to establish is becoming a lovely haven for us all
- A daily walk is permitted activity; in some countries people, especially children, are not allowed out the house
- There is less dirty laundry
- There is no evening bag packing activity
- No commute!
All I hope at this point too is that the changes we have made make a difference and we start to see a more positive turn in the UK’s situation. This is a genuinely testing time for the UK and I hope we all come out of this stronger as a nation.