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A year of lockdowns: The impact on family life

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What impact has a year of lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions had on your family? The first anniversary of this madness has made me reflective and I’m not too sure what to make of the impact.

Helen and Izzy, posing following a walk and cycle ride we went on last year. After a year of lockdowns, I would probably struggle to get both kids to do this now.

It’s been a real mixed bag of positives and negatives. The irony is that I was quite dismissive when the first lockdown was introduced. Compared to France, where police officers were often posted at the end of each street, the British version of lockdown seemed very liberal. After a year of lockdowns, however, I am not at all dismissive and the past three months have been the toughest.

Over the past year, six months have been spent in a kind of house arrest. As a family, we’re tired of it. In particular I notice my children are fatigued. It pulled at my heart-strings when Izzy, my youngest daughter, told me she wanted a time machine so she could travel into the future so Coronavirus wasn’t a problem any more.

Geeing up the kids to get them out the house so we can visit the one local visitor attraction that has remained open (because it’s essentially a large, outdoor garden) is proving quite a challenge. Three months ago, they were as excited as Mrs Adams and I at the thought of a change of scenery.

Not so any more. It’s the same thing time after time and they’re quite understandably bored of the repetition.

The best of intentions

We went into the first lockdown with the best of intentions. Helen, Izzy and I did the Joe Wicks PE thing. Even Mrs Adams, someone who isn’t in danger of joining a gym any time soon, joined in from time to time.

The four of us went for daily walks, often very long walks. I read to the children every day and there were frequent Zoom calls with relatives.

I think for most families, the novelty of the Zoom call has worn off. They’ve become very rare for us. The walks, yes they happen but as that’s been the only form of entertainment outside the home for months, I can’t honestly tell you anyone, even Mrs Adams and I, do them with huge enthusiasm.  

I also can’t read to the kids every day because they won’t agree on a book they both like. After so long in each other’s company, I think they’re both trying to assert some independence.

That said, Izzy has developed a massive passion for reading. She’ll happily take herself off and read for ages, but she doesn’t want to be read to by an adult any more.

It has been a trying time

For us as a family, there have been a couple of additional complications. During lockdown number one I frequently took the kids cycling and they loved it. We all loved it. It was such good fun cycling on roads that were largely empty.

Unfortunately, my fitness regime during that first lockdown was a bit too aggressive. I injured my knee by overusing a rowing machine and while it’s much better now, I am still in recovery. Cycling is off the menu for the foreseeable future so that’s an activity we can no longer do.

Also, in a spectacular example of shocking timing, our garden was dug-up in December (it’s a long story, but we had no control over when this work was carried out). New turf was laid-down in early-January but you can’t set foot on a newly-turfed lawn for months. We’re only now taking our first tentative steps on it, so we’ve had to stay at home for three months with no garden to play in (I feel guilty writing that as I know we’re lucky to have any green space of our own. Quite how anyone living in a tower block manages I don’t know).

A year of lockdowns hasn’t all been bad

As I say, it hasn’t all been bad. I have been pleasantly surprised at how well Helen and Izzy have got on with each other. They have developed their own games and will spend ages playing with each other.

Mrs Adams and I have got on enormously well, despite spending much of every day in the same home office (a home office that increasingly resembles a recycling centre it’s so messy but hey, we see through the mess). In fact, we’ve got on enormously well as a family.

I’ve also encouraged Helen and Izzy to develop some practical skills. Helen is at ease using a washing machine and tumble dryer. They’ve even got better at tidying their own bedrooms. Thanks to remote learning, both have developed really good online etiquette and online learning skills.

The return of the Rule of Six

The constant “what shall we do now?” when we’re all at home and there is little to do is draining. There’s also the guilt I feel when I can’t think of anything creative to do with the kids. I know my kids need more stimulation outside of the home. I know I need to see friends and family again.

I look back on last summer. Despite all the restrictions in place, we had a great time, all of it within the ‘rule of six.’ We saw friends and family and undertook some limited travel within the UK. I’m glad to see the Rule of Six is back in England and I hope it stays.

I can live without foreign travel, late nights in Central London and music festivals. What I long for, seriously long for, is to be able to see friends and family again. To be able to take my kids to a library, a museum or to a sporting event. For them to be able to have a small number of friends round or to have a small birthday party.

It really isn’t the big things I’ve missed over the past year. I’ve learned that it’s the small things that are most important and I hope, before too long, we’ll be able to experience simple pleasures with the those closest to us once again.

2 thoughts on “A year of lockdowns: The impact on family life”

  1. It certainly been a trying year for sure.

    We’re very similar to you and your family John. Luckily we’ve got on well, kids have learned a lot of life skills.

    It’s great to read you’ve all come through the year (so far) as one family unit!

    Keep Safe.

    1. And what trying year it has been! I just hope other families have faired as well as yours and mine because, all things considered, it’s been tough but it could have been so much worse. I feel we are lucky that none of us have actually caught COVID (while other family members have had it). Here’s looking to a better 2022!

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