Lockdown has given me an insight into my family in a way I never imagined. It’s taken me
over 40 years to find out what makes me tick and what upsets me and yet my two young
girls are well on the way to understanding this about themselves and each other, during this period.
From the simple, “I miss my friends, Grandparents, cousins but not school”, to “I miss my
school and friends but not the rushing around and not having time and I definitely don’t
like history”. It’s been eye-opening to watch these developments unfold and overhear
their conversations. “What’s the point in looking back? our life is now and in the future”,
was one such conversation starter.
The experiences and learnings from this time are likely to be taught in schools in the
future in the same way the Bubonic plague is taught now. And it’s really given me pause
for thought I have always been an advocate for real life education so when lockdown occurred, I
realised this was our chance to put this belief into effect. What has been so unforeseen
has been the learning we have all experienced.
My eldest (a tween) spent the first three to four weeks of lockdown in between her school work organising her room, helping me cook , learning how to keep on top of the washing as well as perfecting her back handspring and exploring music production through an online course based in Calgary, Canada. (It’s amazing how small the world can be at times).
My youngest struggling more with the emotional regulation side of life; started becoming more interested in nature and we suddenly discovered the abundance of wildlife living very near to us, from massive spiders venturing out of the long-time hiding places in the house to the frogs and foxes frequenting our garden at all times of the day.
Being here pretty much 24/7 has meant that we have seen and appreciated more of what has always been there but because of our busy lives or a usually empty house may not have been apparent. The Grandparents have noticed this interest and this has been our connection lifeline, with one set of Grandparents nurturing 11 caterpillars to butterflies, documenting the journey through videos and updates on Whatsapp and text, whilst the other set giving tours of the ever blossoming plants in their greenhouse.
The enforced proximity - not without it’s challenges for sure - has also meant that every
conversation, every interaction with each other at the moment in our household is under a
microscope with two curious, growing girls watching and listening to everything we say to
friends, family, neighbours, clients....etc We are finding more time to discuss with them
the wider world and with that comes an understanding of empathy. Not everybody sees
everything in the same way, and actually that’s what makes life exciting and challenging
by the same measure. Ensuring our children understand that not everybody is in the same
boat is really helpful to making sense of life. Discussions with cousins where Mum is an
NHS worker and so are not having the same level of supervision, to friends without gardens
so cannot go out as much, to delivering food to elderly neighbours who daren’t go out due
All these are life lessons on understanding how different situations can impact on how you
see and what you are able to do in life at any one moment of time and sometimes offering
solutions. Problem solving is also part of life and thinking up acts of kindness can help
development in so many ways. My youngest has made her bed every day now.. She has learned what’s important to everyday living as well as helping me with the online shopping list (and not just adding the sweets – although that has obviously been a highlight) and now understands how much things cost. A real moment!
I’m not saying it hasn’t been a challenge, it really has. It’s taught us a lot about ourselves
and our values, beliefs and has really showed what’s important to each of us. It’s been a
rollercoaster of behaviour and emotions for all of us. From excitement to disappointment,
to frustration to happiness to fear in a matter of seconds at times and highlighted how we
all have different needs and ways of dealing with it.
There have been arguments, screaming matches. Too much screen time. Days of lows and the
feeling of not coping, from us all. Hours where we haven’t spoken. The all too familiar
feeling of guilt, lack of control. Not knowing where to look, what to do next, how we can
feel better, even make it better.
But ultimately what’s come out of this interruption in life as we knew it, for me, is
confirming that life skills are just as important as what we learn in a classroom, if not
more. If you think about it, what we are preparing our kids for is life as independent
adults. Our children, whatever age, are mini adults in the making. This means not just
the everyday tasks, of self-care (both physical and emotional) cooking and cleaning but
everything else that goes with it. Who you are as a person, your mindset, how you treat
others, what you miss in life, what you enjoy, what lights you up, even who lights you up.
This is a real challenge but also an opportunity for our children and ourselves to explore
life outside of what is considered normal and find out what is important to us all. As
Martin Luther King once said “Intelligence plus character. That is the goal of true
education.” I couldn’t agree more.
Rhian Morallee: Co-Founder of Pursuit of Growth- which offers 21st century learning to
bridge the gap between education and the work place.