How has lockdown been for you? Maybe you’ve hated it. Maybe you’ve loved it. Maybe you’re just itching to get back to normality, whatever that will now look like.
For our little family of three, 5pm on Monday 16th March was when our lockdown started. Boris announced on the TV that if anyone in your household had been showing symptoms of Covid-19, then the rest of the household must self-isolate for 14 days. The Saturday before, Zak had a temperature of 40ºC and just hadn’t been himself, so he was already in self-isolation. We put it down to teething, but in times like this, it’s better to be cautious. So we locked ourselves away, and a week before the rest of the country went into lockdown, we began to get used to this new way of living: lockdown with a toddler.
Let me make this point right from the outset: I realise that we are in quite a privileged position. We have a garden to play in, we don’t need to go a laundrette to wash our clothes and we are able to fork out for fruit and veg deliveries etc. We are also privileged to have been able to make use of the furlough scheme, meaning that we haven’t had to juggle our childcare responsibilities with trying to work full-time from home.
I know that this hasn’t been the lockdown experience that everyone has had.
For our lockdown experience, though, I am thankful. It has been a relatively positive time for us as a family and I know that when this is all over, we will look back on our time in lockdown with happy memories. So here are five reasons that I am thankful for lockdown with a toddler at home…
1. Family time
I hope we’re never in this situation again. If you’d asked me in 2019 under which circumstances we’d get to spend a few months at home as a family, I don’t think I could ever have imagined living through a global health pandemic that has seen us basically confined to our house for several months. However, I’m so thankful that we’ve had this time together. Even though I’ve had to work from home throughout our time in lockdown, I have absolutely loved spending so much time with Zak and Laura. We’ve been able to watch Zak grow and develop in so many different ways. His speech has come on leaps and bounds, and his understanding of how things in our house work has improved so much. He’s become really interested in drawing and making marks, and his sense of humour has really blossomed over the past few months.
We have also been able to do things that we normally couldn’t. Zak normally has his three main meals at his fantastic nursery, where he goes five days per week. But lockdown has meant that we can have meals together every day. It has been so nice to have breakfast together each morning before I disappear into my study to work. I don’t think I’ll ever take this for granted again.
2. The biggest spring clean ever
I don’t know about you, but our house has never been so sorted! We’ve chucked so much stuff out and tidied shelves that we haven’t seen for several years. We even went to the extent of buying a new hoover! (It’s a Shark one and it’s amazing!)
Having said that, when you’ve got a 2-year-old zooming around the house (in the traditional sense, rather than holding video-conferences with his toddler friends), things don’t stay tidy for too long. As an example, the other day, just when we thought we had finally been able to separate and tidy the In The Night Garden figures away from the dinosaurs, Iggle Piggle jumped on a T-Rex and beckoned Upsy Daisy to come and join him on his new Ninky Nonk (this is a language I wasn’t able to speak two years ago!). There are some battles we will never win, and tidying toys in a global lockdown situation is one of them!
3. Discovering local gems
If one positive thing has come out of this, I hope that local, independent businesses see a rise in custom and that people continue to use them. Local shops, restaurants and other businesses close to where we live have really risen to the occasion and have started doing all sorts of delivery services and special offers. This has been really useful for us, as we have a toddler that has been eating us out of house and home! Some businesses have really gone over and above the call of duty. Take our butcher for instance: the butcher we have used for the past 5 years (Northumbrian Heritage Meats in Low Fell) wasn’t able to offer a delivery service, but when he heard that we were self-isolating, he dropped off an order for us on his way home. We have always tried to use local businesses (admittedly not enough – a regular outing to Costco is one of my guilty pleasures and Amazon Prime is just too convenient sometimes), but we have really upped our game over the past couple of months. We’re thankful for the flexibility that our local businesses have shown us, so we will be continuing to use them when lockdown is fully lifted.
I’m a generally ineffective blogger, so I haven’t really taken pictures of things that we have ordered from local businesses, but for anyone in the North East, Sam over at North East Family Fun has shared her experiences in her blog post ‘North East Food Box Delivery Services : Reviews & Recommendations.’
4. Taking back commuting time
Before lockdown, I quite enjoyed my commute. Half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening is just the right amount of time to spend catching up on podcasts, planning the day ahead or reflecting on the day that has just happened. This became time that I gained when I began working from home.
As I’ve said above, this has helped us to have more meals together and it has also freed up time to do other things that I generally don’t have time for when I’m at work. For the past four years, I’ve had a ukulele sitting in my study that has been gathering a rather impressive amount of dust. I never set out to learn how to play the ukulele during lockdown, it just sort of happened. Anyway, after a couple of months of practising, I’ve learned quite a bit and I’ve even posted some videos on YouTube for my class at school to sing along with! (Notice no hyperlink there – I’m not sharing these performances just yet!) What I didn’t expect was how much Zak would enjoy practising with me every day. He loves it when I get the ukulele out and dances along to his own rhythm, which is just as well because I usually have to stop abruptly several times in the middle of a song when I play the wrong chord! He’s vaguely interested in playing it too, so I think we might need to add one to his Christmas list.
5. Saving money – maybe?
There have been so many memes flying about on Facebook about this one! When we started lockdown, we thought we were going to save so much money because there would be no nursery fees to pay, our petrol bill would be next to nothing and we wouldn’t be going to shops on a whim for unnecessary purchases.
Well. This didn’t quite materialise.
You see, I’ve become a bit of a hippy during lockdown and have discovered the joy of diffusing essential oils. Don’t roll your eyes like that – hear me out! Since we were going to be spending so long in the house, we realised that we had better make it smell nice, given that we’re getting through quite a few toddler nappies at the moment. I went to school with Steph from My Little Duke, who has a Neal’s Yard business and I’ve bought some bits and bobs from her in the past. Over the past year or so, I’ve been watching her Instagram Stories about essential oils and I’d bought a couple of different things to help us with getting Zak to sleep. What I hadn’t realised was just how much I would enjoy blending different oils together to make our house smell really good. Long story short, I’ve spent a good bit on essential oils over the past couple of months and whilst we haven’t been able to save as much as we had hoped, our house smells amazing. I think this discovery deserves a blog post of its own, don’t you? I’ll save my evangelising for another time!