This week sees the anniversary of the lockdown. In all honesty we knew it was coming, new rules had been coming into force in the weeks preceding to minimise social contact and schools had closed to all but key worker and vulnerable children. It was inevitable and was probably a bit of a relief to end all the speculation.
I think I had found the week before more disorientating when it was announced that schools were to close. My colleague and I listened to the schools statement in our office and I remember us both trying to work out what this meant for us all, both our school but also for our children. This was the week when I had my wobble, it was the only time I cried until I got my vaccination in January. I knew this school closure wasn’t for a few weeks and I knew it was likely that my son wouldn’t be returning to his lovely little primary school. His TA and I were both trying so hard not to cry in front of him on the penultimate pick up, six and a half years of daily handovers abruptly ending. That was the day when it all started to feel real, the last day was better, we all put on a brave face so that our children would feel that it was an exciting, new adventure. I was correct that our son didn’t return properly to school although he went back for a wonderful afternoon with all his classmates so they could say goodbye. Little did I know that the March 20th would be our daughter’s last day at her school. Home schooling showed us that some niggles and concerns we had about her well being and academic work were well founded and when offered the choice to transfer to a different secondary she jumped at the chance. She’s so happy at her new school and I do think that without the school closure it would have taken us longer to recognise the place she was in.
Mr S and I had to make some decisions at this time, as key workers we were entitled to school places for the children but neither of us wanted to send our children to school in such a strange and scary time, they needed us to be with them. We both requested and were granted flexible working, meaning that we condensed our working hours into fewer days onsite. I worked 3 days a week and Mr S 2 days a week, on non working days we did home schooling. Interestingly this is one aspect of lockdown which not only benefitted us at the time but led to a permanent change in my working hours. I now work 4 days in 3 but I am currently temporarily working fulltime in 4 days. Whilst it is early starts, it has improved life and I’ve definitely become a morning person now. Lockdown also led to lots of thinking and talking about the future. In August Mr S left his part time job and did what he had always hoped to do, retire at 55. This has made our life so much easier, especially with the further school’s closure in January. With Mr S at home and focusing on our home life, I have been able to accept a promotion at work and it feels like a new chapter of our family life is starting.
This lockdown year has really seen as thrive as a little unit of 4, it was the year when family was everything. I felt secure in my relationship prior to lockdown but it showed that even in the most challenging of times, we are strong and united. I always felt home life was safe and full of love and support and I will always be so grateful for this. We missed our parents in this year. I saw my parents at a country park midway between our homes in August when we met for a picnic and walk and spent a day with them in October. We have booked a cottage for a few nights in April when restrictions lift slightly so we can see them again. I have not seen my father in law this year, although Mr S has seen him in his garden twice. He has been so careful shielding, but again we look forward to seeing him outside in April by when both he and I will have had our second vaccinations. I have found myself being very cautious this year, I was terrified not of my health but passing the virus on at school where we have medically vulnerable children or to family members. It was a difficult conversation to have at Christmas that we wouldn’t be visiting family but in hindsight this was definitely the correct decision. Whilst we had two Covid outbreaks at work this year, the January outbreak was the more serious, with more cases and for the speed in which it spread. There was also a large number of cases in the community, in a matter of weeks our town went from suppressed to the highest category, scary times.
In January, we started the Covid testing at work, and in full PPE I helped with tests. PPE has become something quite normal now, I must wear a mask at all times at work at present, but on testing duty, I have surgical mask, shield, gloves and apron. On my first day as a tester. I had 8 positives, its an awful feeling when you see the result, concern for the staff member and their families and the hope that they will make a full recovery. Its also quite scary coming home and hoping that you don’t pass anything on to your family. I go straight to the downstairs shower room, shower and put all my clothes into a hot wash. This all makes it sound like I work in a medical institution, but the reality is I am Deputy Head in a special school and this all seems normal now.
In thinking about a post about lockdown, I inevitably started writing lists as its my way of organising my life. Below are a few Lockdown lists, its impossible to write a post about the whole year, its too much to take in and process but the lists hep me share key information.
Lockdown List 1: The things I’ll remember about Lockdown.
- The emotional clap for carers at 8pm on Thursday evenings and the town band who chose a song to play after from their gardens. All the neighbours were out in the gardens and the sound of the applause echoing around the bay was something quite special.
- The lockdown speech, suddenly it was real.
- Boris being admitted to Intensive Care. Regardless of politics, he was our PM and seriously ill, it was scarily real now.
- The Queen’s broadcast to the nation. The reassurance we didn’t know we needed.
- Captain Tom raising £33 million for the nhs. The 100 year old grandad we all fell in love with and mourned when he died from Covid.
- Rainbows everywhere. There’s something hopeful about every rainbow.
- 5pm government briefings. They became a feature of the day and on some days gave the grimmest statistics.
- The comfort of radio and podcasts and the voices which made us feel a little more connected.
- The cancellation of everything, there was nothing in diaries except food delivery bookings.
- Hot sunny days, from the first day of home schooling we had the most amazing weather in spring and summer, it made lockdown a little easier. January lockdown was really hard with the dark days and cold weather.
- Postbox bingo. This came from a running podcast I listen to and provided a focus to some of our daily walks as we tried to find the insignia of different monarchs on post boxes. It was surprisingly addictive and I always look at every post box I pass to this day.
- Tidying and sorting every nook and cranny in the house. My house has never been more organised and streamlined.
- The walks. Every single day …
- Appreciating nature. Our nearest outdoor space is either the beach or the country park and in both we could witness the changing seasons.
- The search for a Nintendo switch. To counter the cancelled holidays and lockdown birthdays we decided to buy the latest Ninetendo games console for the children. It became the must have item of early lockdown and was sold out everywhere. I did eventually track one down before the birthdays and I felt like a superhero!
- Sadness at the overgrown, locked children’s playground. There is something so melancholy and quiet about an unused children’s playground and it was so sad to see all the playgrounds locked, equipment covered up to stop little ones playing.
- Sanitiser and mask, the never leave home without accessories of the year. And the obligatory lockdown rucksack for all the practical items you need to carry. I miss handbags.
- The first Covid test. I’m such a dab hand at administering such tests now but my first test in May was a shock at its invasive nature. I have never got used to them.
- Family games. We have never played so many games, Monopoly, Cluedo, Quirkle, Uno, Monopoly Deal, Nope. We even had a games championship over the Christmas holidays, convincingly won by Little Man.
- Sense of community. I have never felt a part of my community as much as I have done during this year. Our neighbours have been amazing and I hope we have all supported each other. We clapped together, celebrated the little things and finished the year with a beautiful socially distanced carol concert from our gardens.
- Baking. There wasn’t much we didn’t bake last year, every little thing was celebrated with cake. I finally found the time to make fresh hot cross buns after threatening to do so for years (we’re sticking to the local bakers this year) A friend sent through a recipe and we made cakes and chatted via Zoom. Baking was everyone’s comfort.
- The relief and joy at my first Covid vaccination. Due to the Covid outbreak at work, Public Health England supported all our frontline staff to get vaccinations in January. The organisation all happened pretty quickly and on the day I helped at the clinic, a wonderful, joyful task. On the way home, alone for the first time all day, I found myself crying happy tears.
The changes in my life due to Covid and which are likely to continue.
- Flexible working. I work long days but prefer my new hours. The time between 7 – 8.30 when most others arrive is my most productive time of the day.
- Cash seems pretty much redundant now, contactless is the norm. I have had the same £20 note in my purse for months.
- A weekly food delivery. This was one of those things that I’ve been arguing for forever, but Mr S always liked going to the supermarket. Since the pandemic came he quickly converted and is chief food shopper with a superb booking system.
- Zoom meetings. Zoom and Teams are words that meant nothing to me in Feb 2020 and are now used daily. There are some things which will remain post lockdown and virtual meetings are a bonus. As a parent, the virtual parents evening was so much easier and relaxed.
- Health. The pressure of work in the pandemic got to me in May and I felt really poorly and decided to take positive action, cue a healthy diet, exercise and daily meditation. It was one of those life switch moments, over weight and unfit people were affected more by Covid so I lost a lot of weight, got the fittest I’ve been and feel so much better in myself.
- Accepting its okay to pause. There was always something to do in my life pre lockdown, now I recognise its okay to just be at home and be ourselves.
The things I miss so much in lockdown (not including being with family and friends as that’s a given) In no order of preference.
- Fresh flowers in my kitchen
- Pottering around town
- Cafe culture
- The cinema, theatre and live music.
- The buzz of a crowd
- Diving into a swimming pool and being submerged in the water
- Planning and looking forward to events
Its been the hardest and most emotional year and there is more lockdown to come, but I feel strangely content with life. Its been the worst of times and the best of times.