The 3rd Covid Pandemic lockdown came rather suddenly and feels harder than the others.
At times over this pandemic, I've written down what I thought and felt, in part to help me understand and deal with it, but also as a record for my future, so I don't forget what happened. With this latest lockdown, I do so again.
We have 7 and 9 year old children, being home-schooled with schools once again shut. My wife is teaching from home via Zoom, we stay at home, with no contact with anyone else outside our bubble except Tesco deliveries, and occasional necessary chemist visits.
This 3rd lockdown has been harder than the first, for several reasons.
Firstly, being Winter (currently Jan 2021) we can't get in the garden or go for as many walks - it has been wet and cold, with shorter daylight hours. We're going for some walks etc., but lack the exercise and sunshine we had in the 1st Lockdown, which is a drawback.
Secondly, home schooling is different. School is using Google Classrooms for 9am and 3pm meetups, and work is set, with daily deadlines. This is better for our children - some education, video contact with friends/teachers and a set routine is better for their education and well being compared to the first lockdown when the school hadn't time to set this all up.
But is harder for parents, and this involves me more. In the 1st lockdown, we had a 'school day' and they worked, but we had as parents flexibility and could do more. Now we can't, we are stuck in school deadlines daily.
Thirdly, the Gastroparesis I've had for 30 years has been at a lower point than usual (dietary condition). It is winter, I lack the exercise I need, and a splinter stuck in my finger hasn't helped, limiting food options. I must eat 6 small meals a day, equally spaced, but finding time to fit this in some days is hard.
Tree sap rising in January is an allergy trigger for me every year, leading to Hayfever like symptoms (I'm not alone in this). Medication helps but does not cure. Ironic trudging through mud, ice and snow with Hayfever like symptoms!
I start the day tired (like many other parents do too I suspect!). With constant interruptions during the day (sometimes every few sentences I write), I constantly lose track of what I'm doing and get little done. There is little evening time to do much either, and to be honest in winter, haven't the energy either.
I won't complain, and remain positive, however - some have it much much worse, at least we're at home and relatively safe for now. Having younger children or babies would have been much harder.
'You've got it made' you may say. But, she is teaching her classes via Zoom, from our living room, sharing the same table as us. When she teaches, we whisper to each other, we haven't space to work elsewhere.
At other times she is planning her lessons & marking, making lessons Zoom compatible, and doing admin. Whilst she'd like time to teach our children more, in reality, she teaches other people's children most the time.
This leaves more for me. But I'm not a teacher. Whilst I try my best, and have a scientific background, how do I explain why 5x3 is the same as 3x5 to our 7 year old? Or 3x5x2=6x5?
They started enthusiastically, but not unreasonably they're getting tired and it is harder work for them, and us, to get motivated. Distractions easily occur.
With reduced human contact, our children have fewer role models, and like it or not, we may be their role model. Our role as parent multiples - parent, teacher, friend. We might even be their hero.
This time, our well being has been more important. Our children have school deadlines, and work is marked, which is necessary for our children's education. However, it puts pressure on our children. The video meetups at 9am and 3pm are great - they see their teachers and friends. However, nothing could replace the face to face interaction they, and we, need. Real life social interaction can give us the affirmation and positive feedback we like/need. So it will only be a necessary second-best option.
Asking our children how they feel has been important, also setting a 1 hour limit on each piece of work, helping our 7-year-old type things in, and limiting screen time by breaking up day have helped. It is still tiring for them though.
Doing 11+ tuition outside school hours too - 2 hours extra screen time Wednesday afternoon, plus extra homework. This adds up to many hours screen time each Wednesday.
Getting enough sleep has been a problem for all us at times. Perhaps a symptom of all that is happening.
Providing alternative stimulation (positive things to do), when breaking up the day, has been important. Our children suggested a kitchen table Art and Games Club, which proved useful, providing something different to do and look forward to, and encouragement to get work done first. Children still do Cubs and Beavers virtually, plus school music lessons, all on Zoom, which they look forward to.
On long days (e.g. Wednesdays), breaking up the time with education & relaxing TV programme helps too - David Attenborough's nature programmes are popular (currently watching Perfect Planet). We can't ask more of our children than they can reasonably do - their well being is important too. Nor can we be too hard on them.
Laughter is important too - finding funny stories from the past for example, and our ongoing Crisp Elf and Dad's Secret Passages Around House etc.
Walking has been beneficial - just a short walk gets us out of the house, even in the rain - we want more walks but haven't time for them. We get the chance to talk about things - today's walk took us on an old pushchair route when the children were very young - they enjoyed hearing stories about when they were babies.
Sitting around all day, we all need exercise and movement to avoid muscular pain, which several of us get sitting down at computers many hours a day.
As parents we all need the patience of a saint sometimes - being stuck at home getting along well as a family is important, being busier and the short day light hours, we're more tired but we need peace too.
With some rare health conditions, am happy to be isolating at present - living at end of London Tube network, the virus is rampant and I don't want it. But I don't want the uncertainty too, I'm getting little done - how long will we be here? How long will our back pain last (sitting too much with less exercise), when will I see people face to face again?
I see the government have difficult choices and disparate parental needs - needs to work & educate, but to stay safe too.
In the January, I understand that two keyworker groups at our children's school have isolated due to Covid cases. Last term, there were no cases, and no isolations. The school does a good job with its bubbles, but can't control outside influences. Mixing in schools doesn't sound that safe just now, and until it is safer, I don't want us back there, as hard as that may be.
Everyone else's needs are outlined above, but what about me? What about my needs?
In reality, everyone else's needs are greater just now - the bits of freelance work I do in printmaking takes a back step again - whilst we try to find time for me, I can stop, no one else can. Someone wants a type cabinet for letterpress, I'd like to make it, but when? Once everyone else's needs have been taken care of, I have little time or energy to do this though, and shorter daily light hours is harder for us all.
Sounds harsh? It is, but I'm not the only parent doing this, we're all in it together with our challenges.
But I am looking after myself and staying positive (writing this helps). I always enjoy reading, currently on another Thomas Hardy novel (Jude the Obscure, previously enjoyed Far From the Maddening Crowd), am enjoying exploring his novels, have some other books in the pipeline.
Getting back into it, some small watercolour landscapes
Have been enjoying some watercolour painting too - a few simple landscapes - necessary for a break for me. As chairman of a local art group (Amersham Art Group), we met last March, nearly a year ago, not expecting our monthly meetings would stop for so long. We all enjoy going along to paint, but socialise too, not having these kinds of social contact is hard for us all.
Christmas 1989 saw me in the USSR on a school trip - Leningrad (as was), Kiev (Ukraine) and Moscow, at a pivotal time in Eastern Europe and Soviet Politics. Only a few months had passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and whilst in Moscow, Romania’s Communist dictator, Nicolae Ceaucescu was murdered, starting the downfall of Russian States.
I took 3 reels of 35mm film (slides) on a manual focus Olympus OM20 SLR camera whilst there (some in -25 deg!). I still have the film. For some time, I've wanted to digitise this important record, and have recently started - below are some photos. I hope to put more up here in due course.
Tags: coronavirus corvid19 pandemic lock down lockdown
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