Lockdown adventures with the little one

Gearing up for another week of life in lockdown, and reflecting a little on the very different experience – one shared in every household across the country – that last week was. For me, it was mostly spent finding ways to keep an active and inquisitive toddler entertained while housebound, instead of with our usual routines full of morning play groups and afternoons between home and the farm. It’s been a good focus to have in the midst of all this, definitely a learning curve and a surprisingly fun challenge – and one that’s connected so many of us too, with parents sharing ideas near and far through the wonders of technology that we’re so lucky to have.

As last week went on, we settled into splitting our days up into separate sections to keep them as varied as possible, which I think we’ll stick to as this week begins. We also tried to use as many different places around the house as we could to break it up even more – starting after breakfast in the living room until snack time, up to the bedroom for a change of scene, and after lunch often out to the garden for a lot of the afternoon, with bath towards the end too – which has become a huge activity all of its own, trying to keep up swimming activities and pouring games even in the small space! 

It’s amazing how things have changed over the course of a week, and a lot of it has meant a real perspective shift, as some of the things I would previously just get done myself quickly – running bath, putting a washing on, making tea and looking after our little hamster, Sandy – have become not only activities that we can do together, but in fact also often highlights of the day. I feel guilty in fact with many of these for not working them into our day more so far, but it’s a good lesson learned and definitely something we can continue to do when all this madness is over! Mealtimes too have become such highlights, with my husband working from home it’s been lovely all of us getting together three times a day for meals instead of just once and we’ve all enjoyed more time together.

I’m so amazed at how quickly the wee one has adapted to all this, looking forward to heading up to her bedroom for some time with her dolls’ house, or out to gather sticks even just in the small area of the garden; and we were able to add some extra socialising too with video calls to family and friends, something I think we’ll do more and more as we all get used to this.

We began our week with an online version of our usual Monday music class on Zoom, which was wonderful – she so enjoyed seeing her teacher, singing her same songs and playing along with instruments at home with the other children on. Since then, we’ve utilised online activities as much as we possibly can to keep screen time as positive and as interactive as possible. Our local library has been running activity ideas, lego-building competitions, drawing lessons with children’s illustators, readings by favourite authors, which have been great to dip into. A few Bookbug sessions too, where we normally find ourselves in person at least once a week – gathered round in the library with familiar faces – have been uploaded to YouTube for using anytime, so have been brilliant for doing some songs and rhymes with actions from home. Within a couple of days it was clear how brilliant participating in online classes was, especially the ones that keep us moving, and we’ve also discovered through recommendations a couple of other ways to do the same – Cosmic Kids Yoga has been wonderful for getting some exercise in from home, accessible yoga for all the family to the narration of well-loved stories – the Very Hungry Caterpillar our favourite so far! And PE with Joe, which seems to be keeping just about every household in the UK and beyond active just now, has been wonderful too – though I hope I’m not the only one who’s realised how unfit I am through doing it!! 

As we begin this week, I think we will use these activities mostly as our starts to the days, in place of the usual groups we’d have been out at, as this seemed to work very well last week – moving on to snack and a quieter time with some of our usual stories or games later in the morning, just as we would have done on returning back home.

This is undoubtedly a very strange time for all of us, the littlest of children included; but it’s actually quite refreshing in some ways to have the challenge on our hands of finding ways to fill the day without the usual well-worn routines. There’s been a lot more time spent indoors than normal but I’m pleasantly surprised by how captivating activities like painting and stickering have become – and even more so at the imaginative play emerging just with a small play tent and a few soft toys. It’s been lovely too keeping in touch with other parents online and bouncing ideas backwards and forwards. We’re all in this together, and it feels like an experience we can all learn something from as we adapt to our new normal for the next little while. 

A big hello to everyone in the same boat, and wishing you all, whatever your situation, all the best for another week of keeping busy and keeping cabin fever at bay! 🙂 

 

Thoughts in a locked-down world

I’ve opened up WordPress a few times in the last couple of weeks, since these increasingly strange days began, bringing with them so much change – at first little by little, then something new, bigger and more overwhelming each day; until within a matter of weeks the world around us is completely unrecognizable. Each time I’ve dipped back in here, I’ve found it impossible to know where to begin – what to write, how to reconcile the reality we find ourselves in with where ‘normal life’ left off such a short time ago. I have two drafts I’d been waiting to post, both of which I’ve found myself just staring at in disbelief that they can possibly feel so distant already: One about a road trip I took with my daughter just at the end of January, up round some of our favourite places in Highland Perthshire – driving freely, popping in and out of small shops, chatting with walkers in the woods, visiting family – all things I could never have imagined would be taken away from us within weeks. The other, my March reading diary, a regular post I’ve been keeping running in my drafts each month with notes on the books I’ve read throughout, and then posted all together at the end of the month. This one begins with a book I went to the launch of on March 1st, on a wonderful night out with a lovely friend, having dinner, drinks, and sitting in a room packed full of people listening to the author speak. That we can have gone from that to this in a little over three weeks is almost unbelievable – and yet here we are.

I just wanted to post a hello, and a hand-hold out across this online world – now all of a sudden really our only way of connecting in the world – to you all. We entered our own isolation at home here just over a couple of weeks ago now, as my daughter and husband both came down with what we’re sure was just a cold, but had a cough with it, so we began a period of household isolation for 14 days. We watched from inside as the wider world changed a little more every day, with social distancing measures introduced for all, isolation lengths and vulnerable groups guidance updated, workplaces closing, public facilities, then schools and nurseries, cafes and restaurants; until finally we got to where we found ourselves here on Monday night: total lockdown. Every day, after our new routine – my husband working from home in a little pop-up office in our kitchen and me filling our daughter’s day with activity as best I can in just about every other room of the house; we come together to watch the daily briefing at 5pm, and hear the latest on all the efforts to battle this virus.

That is really all that matters in the midst of all this. All of the vast changes we might have had to make to our daily lives in the last few weeks – even adjustments that may have felt so difficult, like replacing the much-valued company of family and friends with phone conversations and video calls; pale into insignificance alongside the experience of those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19. It is tragic how many lives have been lost so far across the world, and all I hope for is that we can keep this at bay as much as we possibly can, and keep as many people as possible well and healthy. These are huge and unprecedented days, and all this is so very disconcerting; but all we can do is our best to stay as safe for ourselves and each other as we can and follow all the advice as it updates and changes with all the new research that is being worked on so tirelessly, until those amazing people who can achieve it can find a way to conquer this.

In the meantime, we adjust to life as it is for the time being. Since our own household isolation ended yesterday, I’ve been able to return to the farm to check on Charmer after the longest time away from him I’ve had in years, which I’m so thankful for; although of course keeping it to the absolute minimum, just what’s essential to keep him well and looked-after. I’m very grateful to the others at the farm who kindly looked after him while I couldn’t, and to our yard owners who have put so much in place to ensure we can have a small isolated slot each day to care for our horses without risking crossing paths with each other – and also that there are plans in place for if we do find ourselves unable to visit.

Being on maternity leave has meant life is very different for me than it would have been otherwise, as I would have been working more than ever in what is currently the most impossible time of crisis in the world of home care – a challenging one to keep staffed and running efficiently and safely for all our vulnerable clients at the best of times. As it stands, I can’t do anything to help at the moment, just days away from giving birth, other than hope and pray for the safety and health of my colleagues and clients – and all who are out there working in so many different fields to keep others as safe as they possibly can.

My days are being spent at home looking after my two-year-old, where I’m very grateful to be able to be; and every day I’m more amazed by her perspective on all this and how she is adapting to such completely different routines and taking it all in her stride. For our new little one, due to join us this very week, this will be such a strange time to be born. All is well with the baby, which is wonderful, but I did have to go for a check up at the weekend, after a couple of concerns and having missed a couple of regular ante-natal checks due to being in isolation; and it was a strange experience being taken into the hospital “red zone”, face mask on, to be seen. When I got in there, though, the midwife was beyond kind, caring and reassuring; all staff just doing the most wonderful job imaginable even at such an overwhelming time for them all.

Everything around us is just so unknown just now, and it’s good to have a little outlet here, to gather thoughts and to read and write in the midst of it all. I will write more soon – for one thing with possibly the biggest list of books I’ve ever read in one month before, which I’ve found to be the most wonderful escape in an unsettling time; and also with how we’re keeping busy, especially the little one, in these strange days, as we hole up, take care and wait for our newest addition to join us. In the meantime, hope everyone is well, stay safe, and take care all. xx