After 17 weeks of staying home and safe, gradually going out a bit more, and reflecting every week on our ups and downs I’ve learned loads about what keeps our family ticking.
Home learning has taught me at least 10 things, doubtless many more.
I wanted to look back and reflect on our family’s experiences:
In week 1, we established a routine that was pretty steady through out the following 16 weeks and beyond into the summer holidays. I ambitiously tried to diarise all the little activities each day. The highlights included some inventive I spy, starting Lego building challenges, and large boy’s first of many video chats with his friends.
Week 2, featured an epic meltdown from large boy as he ran out of books – this has become an adorable and entirely predictable reaction. I managed to keep running and himself and I indulged in the awful Tiger King. It was himself’s birthday, so a chocolate fudge cake treat with Lindor balls on top was very appropriate. I wrote my first ever tiny story: What a Noise! (though I didn’t show it to anyone for a while).
In week 3, the boys and himself were on holiday from school and work while I laboured on. All their plans for fun days out were cancelled, so instead they played at science in the garden and set up one of their amazing Scalextric tracks upstairs. Small boy experienced his first full fry up and declared an undying love of fried eggs. Easter chocolates and some lucky encounters with friends rounded out the week.
In week 4, we lamented our cancelled holiday to Whitby, no fossil hunting for us. At least we were off work so I had some lovely runs, the boys painted rocks and chalked the front drive, we made wild garlic pesto, had some long walks, scrumptious dinners, plenty of cuddles and then planned the full on return to serious home learning and working.
In week 5, it was time to knuckle down and get on with the reality of lockdown life in earnest. My faithfully laid planned fell flat on the second day and the timetable I’d drawn got completely rearranged around meetings. We muddled through as much school work as we could and then made up for the missed bits on Friday – another theme to be repeated every week. On the Saturday, I pushed for a longer run (got annoyed with other exercising people) and then did lots of gardening – choices I still regret three months later as my left knee continues to bother me as a result.
In week 6, I finally gave up trying to keep track of everything we did. Instead, I switched to celebrating the successes of each day while acknowledging the difficult moments and moving on. Small boy and I finally found a way for him to make RWI a positive experience, and large boy revelled in some extra maths. We enjoyed a long walk and my knee showed that there was hope of recovery. I suffered from some major mummy guilt and we painfully cancelled our summer holiday.
In week 7, large boy enjoyed writing to his great-grandma and made his own breakfast, small boy had a reading breakthrough and we all enjoyed the beautiful weather over a long bank holiday weekend. I considered the anniversary of my sister’s birth and how amazing my mum really is. The beginning of our saga with bubbled paint on the en suite ceiling began and an attempted bike ride turned into just about the most stressful experience of lockdown so far.
In week 8, the boys enjoyed home made ice lollies, a Zoom birthday party, I hit 200 WordPress followers, and I spent a lunchtime defending a hedgehog from next door’s dogs. My work was stressy again and large boy suffered some melancholy – possibly in rebellion over Indian takeaway. Oh and himself almost poisoned us all with the spiciest steak known to man. I imagined what we would do when lockdown was lifted.
In week 9, I had to check how to spell “nineth” and it still doesn’t look right. We started a local rock snake in some woods near our house, its since grown to over 350 rocks! I discovered the joys of the breakfast martini, large boy wrote about Boudicca and small boy enjoyed jigsaws. Book addiction withdrawal was averted for large boy, I was subjected to monologues from my boss, and small boy punched his brother. I enjoyed some cherries and purloined some William Carlos Williams.
Week 10, was half term so himself was off work entertaining the boys while I soldiered on. I took some lovely photos of the boys on the Bank Holiday, got loads of work done and luxuriated in himself doing lots of cooking.
We had some great countryside adventures. I very nearly cut large boy’s Google account off from the world but was rescued by a lovely support lady. As we had the option to send small boy back to school, we thought that over and decided what to do.
In week 11, himself had to (dum dum duuuum) go into work. It seemed very strange but the boys worked really well, large boy lost a tooth, and we discovered Oxford Owl online reading books for small boy. We made mountains of banana muffins, and my evil knee refused to walk down hills. The things I was missing felt rather heavy.
In week 12, himself’s sneaky ridiculous Ebay scalextic purchase arrived. Large boy and I continued reading The Secret Garden, what bliss to share a book together. We did some kitchen science, had some beautiful walks, and a lesson in the washing machine. I had a bit of a hard, emotional week and everyone was a rather grumpy. I treated the grumpiness with cocktails.
In week 13, we had our first every video chat with my 95 year old grandma, utter joy. We had loads of fun catching up on school work, baking cakes and making fruit cocktails. I got a mention in Bill’s podcast and then passed the 1000 Twitter follower milestone. On the flip side we suffered Zoom torture and got almost-lost on a rather long walk. We also took some quite time to acknowledge the year since boy3 should have been born.
In week 14, it was small boy’s fifth birthday. We had a wonderful day out at Chester Zoo and I reflected on what a marvellous little boy he’s turned into. Lots of other little things happened, but none as important as that.
In week 15, large boy and I finished The Secret Garden. Himself and I had a date night with some delicious food and a movie. At the weekend we ventured out to Delamere with the boy’s on their bikes and didn’t run over any small dogs at all. We found broken glass on our usual woodland walk which is really worrying. Small boy made a nature art picture of a snapperwack. We got loads of house work done too, so dull but then the house felt much nicer.
In week 16, we went to the library! The sheer pleasure of being surround by so many books was brilliant. Large boy and I started reading War Horse, tentatively. Better than either of those was the change in Scottish rules meaning we’d be able to go to see himself’s parents over the summer holidays. It felts like things were getting much closer to “normal” with those things and a return to rugby training for large boy. In the spirit of which we finally decided to try and fix the bubbled paint on the bathroom ceiling that we’d noticed in week 7! I looked forward to the end of home learning, sceptical whether boy on holiday from school in the house while working would be better.
In week 17, large boy finally reached his 3 million word reading target (set all on his own, nothing official), school let us collect their workbooks and we had a lovely time looking through their work. I gave up on home learning and treated myself to a haircut, such decadence! Work was rather demanding and himself poked small boy in the eye with a toothbrush.
And with that, I finally drew my diary to a close. Writing down each day the highs and lows was a great way of approaching the experience of being so limited in what we could do.
… and that’s that with the review
Are we over and done with lockdown for 2020? for the 2020s? Who knows.
What I do know is that whatever this virus or another, global politics, British politics, the economy or anything else can throw at us – we’ll cope. It’ll be hard, frustrating, gin-inducing and tear-filled at times. But we’ll get through it and there will be moments of joy and happy memories along the way.
Next up: back to school, how long will the say there and how stressful is it going to be for us all? Better get writing…