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Light in Lockdown: Managing family at home

If you’d have told me a couple of months ago that I’d spend the spring holed up at home, with my two loud children, anxiety-disordered dog, and my semi-work-obsessed other half, all day every day, I’d have hot-footed it for the hills before you could say ‘Don’t forget the gin!’

Keeping sane during lockdown

The only thing keeping me sane back then in ‘normal’ times was the hours of peace I had to work from home when everyone else had left the house. With a daughter who never stops singing show tunes and a son who needs a constant keeping-an-eye-on because of his unpredictable special needs, there is never a quiet moment in our house unless they are out of it.  The thought of them being in it, 24/7, for weeks on end, with no allowable means of escape, was terrifying to say the least.

Fast-forward a few frantic, full-on, noisy months and there’s a strange feeling gnawing away at me that feels a lot like wistfulness. A sand-timer-running-out-sadness for what will surely soon be gone.  And I know I am not alone. Speaking to friends reeling from the same Covid curveball, some can’t wait for a return to business-as-normal, but many – or even most – are like me and happy to linger in this unexpected life.

For some reason – I’m still not sure why – the stress of juggling work, home schooling and being a cook, cleaner and counsellor rolled into one has been more than balanced out by the loveliness of our having our family together for more than just a few snatched moments between other activities. In place of our children’s friends, footballs groups, dance classes and drama workshops, there’s just us. And for now at least it seems that’s all they need.

We’ve played epic Snakes and Ladders, beaten each other at Boggle, sent relatives hand-made, heartfelt cards, and chatted aimlessly during our daily walk around our local streets. My son’s finally got the hang of riding his bike, and I let my daughter dye her gorgeous hair green. We’ve spotted birds, hung out with herons, named wild flowers. She’s sung – a lot. He’s created merry hell – frequently. But somehow we’re surviving with a smile.

Managing the return to normal

Finding light in lockdown does not mean making light of all that’s happened. The pain and horror of this awful, invisible virus have been the constant backdrop to these strange days.  For me, initial panic has settled to a kind of low level anxiety, blurred with sadness at the still-growing death toll and the poor families left bereaved.

I very much hope, with my head, that it will all be over soon. But my heart will lurch just a little when the kids finally head back to school and the craziness of their after-school clubs, my partner's commute, and demands from my own diary kick in again.

So back in March, I didn’t run for the hills – mainly because I wasn’t allowed. I stayed home like I was told, and started seeing my own little world in a whole new way.  We’ve been given weird window of time to work out what’s important in life and it turns out that a quiet house isn’t high on that list.

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