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Will it make us or break us?

It was announced on Wednesday 18th of March that, when the Schools closed their gates on Friday 20th of March they would stay that way. Nobody knew what was going to happen and how long it would last for.

People had already started to panic buy before this and of all things; toilet roll was at the top of the list. Shops were running out of essentials and people were finding it extremely difficult to just buy a usual weekly shop (myself included).

It angered me! Why did people feel the need to bulk buy? There were people unable to even just buy their normal weekly shopping! The online delivery services were completely booked up and still are!

My youngest daughter is highly allergic to several ingredients, things that you find in most foods such as onions, wheat and soya among other things that are a little easier to avoid. I struggled to find things she could eat and all I focused on for those two days (the days between the announcement of the schools closing and the day they did) was making sure she had what she needed; I of course still only brought what was needed for a week – although I did buy one extra loaf of bread for her, to freeze. Once I had managed to get what was needed, I felt better knowing she would not go without.

As I thought about the idea of being stuck at home with my two children and my partner, I realised something… I was not going to schedule my children to do school work all day; our children were going through the same emotional stress as we were, they were just as confused, unknowing, and uncertain as us! Yes, I would encourage them to do some work, nonetheless, I was not going to schedule every minute of every day, bombarding them with things to do.

I could see the silver lining in the situation. An opportunity! The opportunity to use this unexpected time together to build our relationships, bond and become stronger and closer as a family.

It has now been 27 days since the day the school gates closed to every child apart from the children of key workers. Still, we are unsure of when they will reopen them. At first, I stuck to not following a schedule regarding both of my children doing schoolwork but after a week or so I notice a schedule was beginning to form which made us all decide a schedule would be better (I was surprised my daughters wanted this). So, I used a schedule that had been uploaded on my youngest daughter’s school website and altered it to fit us. We tested the schedule out for the last few days before Easter break and it went very well although, I will be making a few adjustments for after the break that could improve it including some suggestions from my children (we decided Easter break will still be a break from school).

In the beginning, I followed the news and kept up-to-date with all the announcements, but after a few days, I decided it was pointless to follow every little thing that was being said as it did not change much as there was rarely any new information given. I check it from time-to-time but I choose to not become absorbed by it.

GCSE, A-levels, and other exams have been cancelled! The grades will be given based on our teachers’ predictions among other things such as mock exams, coursework, attainment, etc. Quickly I realised I would be unable to get any coursework work completed while the children were up and decided to do it in the morning before they woke up and, in the evening when they were in bed. I always wake up early anyway (usually between 6 am and 7 am, I have no idea why it is not by choice) and the children do not get up usually until at least 8 am. This worked well for us; I could complete my assignments; then for the whole day my children had my full attention and I could focus on helping them with schoolwork and spend time with them: watching films, playing games, planting seeds in the garden, going for short walks, exercising with Joe Wicks on YouTube, playing with my eldest daughter’s pet Degus, creating a new home for my youngest daughter’s pet turtles and so much more. It has worked extremely well for us. It has made this time enjoyable.

I do not personally know what the supermarkets are like now as my partner is the one that goes shopping because he is the only one that has a car and can drive in our household. This is difficult for me, usually, I am the one that does the weekly shop.

“I do not need to take a list; I know what we need,” he tells me.

He has told me the shops are not as empty as they were and people have to queue outside of them and when one person comes out, one can go in. Usually, he manages to get enough food for the week.

He still works in the evenings as a delivery driver, however, he is at home all day (other than when we need essentials) because he has decided to stop doing his self-employed job as a tree surgeon unless the work is an emergency. It has been nice as usually we hardly ever see each other due to him working most days and evenings and me being busy at college and work placement. We have, as a family, been able to reconnect and spend more time together.

I can gratefully say ‘I am still sane’ because of my incredible family.

Luckily with all of today’s technology, we have been able to keep connected with my extended family and close friends. Video calling, messaging and keeping them updated on social media of what we are doing. My children have read books, talked, and played games with family using WhatsApp and other applications that allow video calling.

Today I officially completed my last assignment for my Early Years Diploma! Of course, there are a few bits I have been unable to complete due to not being able to finish my work placement (hopefully I will eventually be able to) but in all, I have completed all of my written coursework and most of my work placement criteria was complete before the schools closed.

I do not mean to give the impression that every day has been like living on a rainbow, not a cloud in the sky; it has not! There have been ups and downs but, luckily for me and my family, mainly ups. I have, at times, lacked motivation; felt drained due to being busy from 6 am to 11 pm when I finally let my head hit that pillow; and we have had some arguments. I have also missed going to college and work placement and seeing my friends and colleagues. Hopefully, I will see you all soon.

However, even with the good and the bad, I have enjoyed this time; we have been able to stop and be together and get to know each other again. We are closer than ever! Although I can still find myself frustrated at times.

It is not over! The future is still uncertain…