Coronavirus Diaries: Our First Month In Lockdown

Well that’s been a bit of a different month, eh? Since the UK was put into lockdown on 23rd March to attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus, we – like every other family in the country – have had to adapt to the new normal of working from home, homeschooling and being together 24/7.

Having barely touched the blog recently, I thought I’d steal a few hours today to write a bit of an update about our first month in lockdown. Why? Well, obviously you can ‘enjoy’ finding out about what we’ve been up to, but really it’s so I can get a few hours alone time away from the rest of the family!

I jest. Although challenging at times, I’ve really enjoyed us all being together. Yes, it’s annoying that we can’t leave the house, that the kids can’t go to nursery / school and that the world is put on hold, but this is a small sacrifice for the greater good.

I don’t know how this pandemic will pan out, but if we make it through without illness (or worse) and are only required to be sensible, listen to Government advice and spend a lot of time together as a family, then that’s an overwhelming win in my eyes.

When other people are dealing with death or required to put themselves at risk, I’m thankful that we can all be safely together. Sure, the kids can be annoying, but so can I! The important thing is that we’ve had the opportunity to hang out as a family and *sorry, I’m going to make myself vom* make memories that we otherwise wouldn’t have done in a ‘normal’ world.

Anyhoo, here’s what we’ve been up to during our first month in lockdown:

Homeschooling

The lockdown has obviously seen schools and nurseries close until further notice, which means that the kid’s education is solely in my unprepared hands!

‘Beetle’ only started nursery part-time at the beginning of March, so it’s a shame for him that he’s had to stop going just as he was getting used to it. However, he doesn’t really seem impacted or affected –  he’s just at home, like he has been most of his life, but has the added benefit of his big Sis and Mummy being around rather than just me!

Thankfully, his nursery made the decision to suspend all nursery fees. I really wasn’t expecting this to happen and fully envisaged that we’d have to pay some, if not all, of the roughly £550 a month it costs to send him to a private nursery.

The reality is that due to work (see below) we’d be unable to pay these fees so would have had to cancel his place, with the likelihood being that we’d then be unable to get him back into that nursery once lockdown ends. So, thanks to the nursery’s kind decision, we’ve not had to make any difficult decisions.

L is in Year 1 and the closing down of her school has obviously had an impact on her. Due to her age, going to school is all she can remember and being forced to not see friends and teachers is a big ask for any five year old. However, on the whole, she’s doing really well. She obviously misses school and everything that comes with it, but I think she’s in a good place.

One of the biggest changes – for her and me – is homeschooling. L’s teacher has been setting a couple of daily tasks online which link into the wider curriculum. The school has said that there’s no expectation to complete it all and it’s there to aid parents, which does take off some of the pressure.

Our First Month In Lockdown L counting with money

However, we’ve found a bit of structure to be useful and have been completing everything that is assigned for her. Luckily, L likes to learn and is really engaged with the tasks, which have included counting with coins, labelling continents, writing a story, talking about plants and learning about bats. I’m not going to lie, I’ve learnt a lot too!

It’s not all been plain sailing though and it can be a challenge. I don’t have the most patience in the world and have found myself getting snappy with her at times if she’s not listening or can’t do something. I really don’t mean to and I obviously feel bad afterwards, but all I can say is that I’m trying my best in a tough situation.

It probably doesn’t help because (a) I’m looking after two kids at the same time, and (b) they’re both different ages. This ultimately means that my attention is being pulled in different directions and can lead to frustration if I’m, for instance, trying to explain schoolwork to L, but ‘Beetle’ is having a shit fit because he’s broken his train track.

Alongside the school work, she’s been completing activity books and magazines, watching the daily BBC Bitesize shows and using online learning resources such as PhonicsPlay, Purple Mash, Mathletics and Reading Eggs. This way, she can do additional learning on her own, which gives me time to do something with ‘Beetle’ – or hide in the bathroom.

Our First Month In Lockdown L doing phonics on laptop

I try not to speculate or believe rumours as to what will happen when it comes to schools and nurseries. However, in my head, I’ve pretty much ruled out all of this school year and am preparing for a September start.

They may start earlier, they might not – either way, there’s nothing I can do about it so need to just roll with the punches. L said the other day that I’m a good teacher and should get a proper job as a teacher, so I can’t be doing that bad, despite what it sometimes feels like!

Work

Like many, the uncertainty around coronavirus has hit us financially. As a self-employed blogger / writer, my work has basically dried up apart from the odd thing here and there as brands and PR’s restrict their own marketing spend. I should be eligible for the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, so that’ll definitely help us out when that kicks off in May / June.

Back in February – and unrelated to coronavirus – the Missus’ work had a restructure which resulted in her being told that her job no longer existed and that she was going to be made redundant unless she found another role internally.

This obviously was pretty shitty news, but coupled with my lack of income and a stagnant external job market due to the pandemic uncertainty, it left us pretty worried about what the future would hold. Luckily, the Missus managed to secure another internal role late in the day, so all is good now, but it was a pretty stressful time not helped by coronavirus.

During this time, and to try to keep our options open, I updated my CV, dipped my toe back into the job market and applied for a couple of things. I managed to get an interview for a role that I felt would suit me perfectly, but, understandably, recruitment was put on hold just as I was waiting to hear the outcome.

So, despite all this uncertainty and the different options we were presented with, things actually remain the same for us. The Missus has changed roles and is working from home, but it’s with the same company and her wage remains unchanged. I’m doing the occasional bit here and there, but my inbox is pretty empty, and without school and nursery, my time is basically taken up with the kids.

Other Activities

When we’re not homeschooling or working, we’re trying to find other ways to entertain the kids. When you’re doing it every day for an undefined period of time, finding ways to fill 12 hours is pretty tough! It’s fantastic being at home with the children, but a small part of me does wish lockdown had happened 10 years ago – just imagine being in lockdown without little ones!

As you’d expect, our days are filled with an assortment of toys and games. From cars to trains to Duplo to animals to Playmobil to jigsaws, they’re pretty good kids when it comes to playing with things and, more importantly, playing together. I’ve even cracked open the dreaded crafty stuff *gulps* a few times for paint, Kinetic Sand and Play-doh.

Our First Month In Lockdown children playing in house

TV is a big entertainer too. I try to limit when it’s on, but I don’t really care about excessive screentime bla bla bla. I’m more than happy that they’re doing plenty of other stuff and they regularly watch educational shows, so TV is just something else to add to the mix. Like many others, we dipped into the world of Disney+ so are reaping the rewards of that subscription service alongside Netflix, Amazon Prime, NowTV and Virgin!

Our First Month In Lockdown children cuddling watching TV

If it’s not watching TV, then there’s multiple things on YouTube that L, in particular, enjoys. This includes Cosmic Kids Yoga, GoNoodle and Les Mills, which all have the benefit of helping to keep her active and tiring her out. Similarly, she’s been enjoying playing on the Wii which I found in the attic and setup a few weeks ago.

I’m just so thankful that we were able to get our building work finished at the start of the year. The additional space we have downstairs in the living room and play room has really transformed how we live and play as a family. I dread to think what lockdown would have been like without the extra space and ability to organise toys etc properly – I think we’d have all gone crazy by now without it!

Luckily, the weather has been nice over the last month which has been a bonus. That’s meant that there’s been plenty of opportunity to escape the four walls of the house and replace them with the two walls and two fences of the garden.

Our First Month In Lockdown selfie in garden chalk wall

Our garden isn’t particularly big, but it gives them space to kick a ball, throw a frisbee, go down the slide, draw with chalk on the walls and make dens in a tent. Again, I’m so pleased that we had it landscaped a few years ago, then finished it off with artificial grass last year, to make it a family-friendly space.

Talking about being outside, we’ve been making the most of our sanctioned daily exercise. We’ve followed the guidance, obvs, and not ventured too far from the house. Instead, it’s mainly involved walking the dog around our neighbourhood and venturing into the nearby woods.

The empty(er) roads, nice weather and lack of school also means that I’ve been able to teach L how to ride her bike without stabilisers. More practice is needed, particularly when it comes to turning, but she’s done a fab job of taking to life on two wheels and can start, stop and steer all by herself.

Our First Month In Lockdown L riding bike without stabilisers

Other News

I’m yet to give myself a quarantine haircut. However, as someone who owns his own clippers and has cut his own hair before, I reckon that time will soon be with us. I might do a “fourall over” for the rest of the family whilst I’m at it.

L lost her first tooth. Despite lockdown and social distancing being in place, the Tooth Fairy shunned all rules and broke into our house during the early hours to leave £1.

Our First Month In Lockdown missing tooth

L’s bedtime has been extended to 7.30pm / 8pm. As a result, we’ve started watching You’ve Been Framed and she loves it. She now wants me to film her ‘accidentally’ falling off her bike as she wants to spend the £250 prize money. If work continues to dry up, this is one of the main ways I plan to make money.

‘Beetle’ is coming along incredibly at the moment. He seems to have changed so much over the last month and his vocabulary is expanding each and every day. I imagine a key reason for this is because he idolises his Sister so much. Bless ’em.

We bought a bug hotel earlier in the year and I’ve become way too invested in the five solitary bees that have called it home. The Missus thinks I have a problem. I do too.

Our First Month In Lockdown L in garden

It’s tough being away from friends and family, particularly my Mum who is still coming to terms with life without my Dad after he sadly passed away last year. We’re doing regular video calls, but it’s a bit shit not being able to see those we’re closest too.

Lockdown has not been kind to the waistline. A lack of steps, boredom and Easter – which involved (a) stealing some of the kids’ eggs, and (b) discovering you can buy boxes of Creme Eggs online – has resulted in clothes becoming a little tight. I’m going for a run and doing online exercise classes, but it’s not been enough to fend off the excess calories so far.

Alone time is a premium, but in the occasional 10 minutes I find here and there, I’ve got really good at a footy game on my phone (Football Strike, FYI) and I’ve actually read two books!

My coffee and alcohol intake has increased dramatically. Understandably so.

Our First Month In Lockdown coffee and kids

 

So that’s our first month in lockdown. I may return with a second month update depending on what does, or doesn’t change. In the meantime, stay safe, stay indoors, keep your distance, wash your hands and, generally, don’t be a dick. Much love.