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During lockdown we did things as a family that we’ve never done before. It was quite strange that this happened really. It was like the enforced lack of freedom caused us to be more imaginative and adventurous at home.
A second lockdown is currently a sad reality for many people, and a worrying probability for many more. Throughout the world, including most recently three counties here in Ireland, people are entering lockdown for a second time due to the Covid-19 pandemic. How will we cope again? The first time around was a bit of a novelty but a second lockdown doesn’t carry any of that attraction. Although entering lockdown for another time is more distressing in many ways, examining how we managed the first time could be the key to how we cope with the next one.
There were many aspects to lockdown that I struggled with but I also found many positives during that time.
Research has shown that people in parts of Ireland shaved up to 93 hours off their commuting time in the 81 days between the end of Mach and the end of July. Because we no longer had long commuting times, it increased the amount of time we spent at home together as a family. Athol started working from home, or to be more accurate, from the caravan in our driveway. This meant he could just roll out of his bed a couple of minutes before 9am and still be in the office on time. Strictly speaking, if he had slept in the caravan too, he needn’t have rolled anywhere.
Our work-life balance definitely improved in this time as we took up new activities we prefer to driving through traffic! Some of those activities are things we normally do and we just did more of them (like baking and gardening), however, we also did a whole bunch of things we had never done before.
Here is a list of some of the new activities we enjoyed as a family during lockdown earlier this year.
15 new activities our family took up during lockdown:
1. Formed a family band
The internet was awash with family music sensations over this period, we were not one of them. However, we explored our musical talents a bit further and managed to actually record a song together for one of our online church meetings. It was one of our proudest lockdown moments. Nate, Eva and Rebecca played different instruments which included the keyboard, electric guitar, ukulele and violin while Athol, Fia and I were on vocals. The practice took hours of disagreement but the 3 minutes and 30 seconds of recording in the end was all worth it.
2. Exercised together – for a bit
At the beginning of lockdown we started out excercising together as a family with great enthusiasm, we walked around our neighbourhood and through the woods near our home. We got the bicycles sorted out so that we all had one that more or less worked so that we could go on bike rides. I think we managed two trips on the bikes all together and eventually we took up more individual cycling and walking routines. Over time our group enthusiasm just petered out and we didn’t manage to maintain a ‘nightly family walk’ as many other families seemed to do, according to social media.
3. Foraged for Food
Ok this sounds worse than it actually is. We did buy food. But at one stage we researched and foraged for edible plants among the weeds that grow in joyous profusion around the edges of our garden! It was fun but weeds don’t taste as nice as lettuce. We spent a of of time in the garden, remember how perfect the weather was for it? We planted broad beans, tomato and flower seeds and managed to keep them growing and watered, even after the hosepipe ban was introduced.
4. Home schooled
Yes all parents did this! And in the process we all realised how much we love teachers and how admirable normal homeschooling parents are. When we lived in South Africa and before we had kids, I decided I would like to be one of those homeschooling mommas. But then we moved to Ireland, had four children and lived in a village with a lovely school and I realised that I am not cut out for that job. I’d be happy to teach other people’s children, just not my own!
5. Held a Home Sports Week
One of the highlights of the home school season for Fia was the Home Sports Week when there was no actual schooling. She was allocated a team and each day she could choose three different sporting activities off a list the school had provided. We all participated and shared our photos or videos in the Facebook group which were good fun to watch, we loved seeing her teacher complete her own obstacle course.
6. Flew our Stunt Kite
We have had this kite in the shed for a few years but it only became visible suddenly in April. One very windy evening we took it down to our local GAA pitch and managed to get it wheeling and dipping in the sky. I didn’t realise that stunt kites can fly so fast and be quite scary, Athol chased the kids with it back and forth the field a few times.
7. Lit a campfire and made smores
Another thing that we have had for ages but rediscovered was an old rusted brazier that the previous owners left behind. The kids normally use this for playing with but we converted it into a mini fire pit for making campfires. We dug a suitable hole in the garden and pulled up our chairs, hauled out some marshmallows, biscuits and chocolate and made an unhealthy amount of icky-sticky smores.
8. The kids wrote ‘old fashioned’ letters and cards
This is something we would have done as children but not something ours are as familiar with. Suddenly they were keen to send postcards and letters to their friends. It was a great source of excitement spotting the little red flag pointing upwards on our post box in the mornings, knowing that the postman had been. Suddenly that physical contact with our friends needed to be replaced by receiving a physical letter or card in the post.
9. Hosted an 18th birthday party on Zoom
Eva sadly couldn’t celebrate her 18th birthday with a big party with all her friends, she had to make do with a family Zoom gathering and quiz. We have put the party on hold and hope to have one later in the year, if we are not in lockdown again.
10. Attended online church
This was strange in the beginning but on the other hand it was quite nice being able to listen to the sermon in our pyjamas. It was also great that we could see and chat to all of our friends online, we were grateful this technology existed so that this was possible.
11. Knitted Myself a Scarf
I discovered during this time how therapeutic it can be knitting row upon row of neat orderly lines in order to create scarves. Who doesn’t need a little bit of therapy right now? When all the world around us seems to have spun out of control, knitting was one small area I could get to grips with.
12. Enrolled our entire extended family in a daily challenge
This was one of the highlights of lockdown as far as I am concerned. We managed to get all of my family and their partners/spouses and older kids as well as Athol’s family and theirs into one WhatsApp group for a daily word challenge. The results at times were hilarious and ironically, never have we all chatted to one another so much as then.
13. Painted a kitchen counter bright blue
Rebecca did this, I said she could, but it might not win any design awards. The counter did need to be replaced and it did look good once painted but it’s not the ideal paint (garden furniture paint) for the job so will ultimately need to be redone.
14. Played board games outside in our pyjamas
Just because we could and the weather was nice. This might make it seem like we have a harmonious family, we don’t. We also spent more than our fair share bickering and watching Netflix. Oh yes, and for a bit of balance, we subscribed to Disney+ too. (See our favourite board games here).
15. Managed that I only cook once or twice a week
I organised the four kids to each cook one dinner a week and Athol was happy to barbecue once and sometimes twice on the weekends, which meant that there were only one or two evenings left when I had to cook dinner. It felt a bit like a holiday to be honest. This practice seems to have fallen away a bit lately, not sure why, so I’m delighted this post has jogged my memory. Cooking isn’t a new activity for the kids, but a regular schedule was now possible because of all the extra time they had. Education at home was much more about practical activities in the end.
The things we struggled with
Of course, there are many aspects of this time that we struggled with. We all missed our friends very much – there were times when I was so excited to go to the local supermarket so that I could spot people I knew across the aisles.
We found it hard to stay motivated with the home schooling and especially in the month when the older three had broken up for the summer holidays while Fia still had a month of school left. Eventually we decided to call it quits and practice the ‘unschooling’ method instead.
It was also really hard not being able to go to the beach, nor to any of our local parks or attractions beyond our designated boundary, or to not travel anywhere in fact.
I struggled to balance working on my blog with the homeschooling and having the whole family at home all the time. It certainly was a huge adjustment for all of us. If we have to go back into lockdown ourselves, I know these will be our biggest challenges we will need to deal with as a family.
On the other hand, if we do find ourselves all stuck back at home during the next few months, I am intrigued to see what this crazy bunch will come up with next!
If you spent lockdown as a family group, did you do anything you had never done before? What did you find the most challenging?