Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Lockdown life

Nine weeks in.  It kind of feels like it's gone quickly, and it kind of feels like we have been doing this forever.  The sheer repetitiveness is probably one of the hardest things.  Having said that, we generally seem to have plenty of stuff to do.  Here are some of the highlights.



Physical

The trampoline features A LOT.  The boys can do front flips, back flips, any-way-around flips...


I just bounce.  Gently.

Also cycling along the canal towpath, hitting tennis balls around at the local playing field, and - for me - exercise DVDs.  I might even have tummy muscles by the end of all this!  We've occasionally jumped on the bandwagon and joined in with Joe Wicks, but the poor guy always looks like he's making such hard work of it. He's had a wrist injury the whole time.

Educational

A recent survey found that middle-class children were doing 6 hours of school work per day, while lower-income kids did 4.5 hours.  From which I conclude that either most parents are stretching the truth, or our family is the dregs of society.  I can cajole the boys into 2 hours if I try really hard, and it usually means that the next day they want a day off, "because we did so much work yesterday, Mum".


We've managed to keep a few things ticking along, though.  They both have online Maths and English websites to do activities on.  Toby did a display poster about Bentley cars and Theo did toy car addition and subtraction (play to their interests, why not?)  Occasionally I get creative and we do things with food colourings and paint.








The boys' music lessons have continued online - Theo has a live video link for guitar, which works well.  Toby's group keyboard lesson is done via recorded video, which he hasn't found quite so interesting, plus my electric piano doesn't have as many sounds as the music centre's keyboards!  But they've had more time and energy to practice than when they had to fit it around school.  And I don't have to drive to town in rush hour traffic.  Definite bonus.

I've also decided that Lego is officially educational, since that's their other main activity.  Since it involves design skills, following instructions, sharing and cooperation, and (when they decide to pool their resources to buy a new set) money management, it's not too much of a stretch, I feel.  They recently spent a full three hours sorting the entire collection into individual colours.  Why do they never concentrate that long on school work?



Social

Well, obviously social is a bit more of a challenge - I'm counting myself fortunate to be an introvert right now.  And even I could do with seeing a few more people!  However.  We're Skyping family regularly, and the boys have managed a few video calls with friends, or chats from the pavement as we've been cycling past their house.

Our church has embraced Zoom with gusto, so I've been joining in the weekly "coffee mornings" and Sunday services.  Zoom has also made it possible for our book club to keep chatting (occasionally we even talk about books!) and I've been trying out a few new things, such as the Derby Happy Cafe and the amazing Sustainable(ish) online conference, which covers pretty much everything environmental you ever need to know.



Offline, our street had a socially distanced street party for the VE Day bank holiday, which probably wouldn't have happened if we hadn't all been stuck here.  Usually our street is the kind where we barely see our neighbours from one week to the next.  It was perfect weather, we shared some food and talked across the road, and the house with the best sound system played music, and Toby declared, "I want to stay until everyone goes inside" - which turned out to be, finally, about 10:30 at night.

Spiritual

We celebrated Easter with our traditional Palm Sundaes, Simnel cake, and, um, chocolate for breakfast (all very spiritual, don't you know?)  We also did a couple of Easter egg hunts.  I really enjoyed the Radio 4 Easter Day service, and having discovered that, have continued listening to the Sunday service they broadcast.




Family "church" has been variable in frequency and quality, but we have tried a bit.  The Reflectionary website is good - we prayed prayers based around a slice of bread, and will have a go at clouds in a bottle for Ascension.  BRF is posting regular Messy Church at Home activities too - I think we could manage paint splatter flames for Pentecost.  And the boys loved this gratitude scavenger hunt from Simple Acres Blog!


For myself, the extra time gained by not having to dash out the door in the morning has meant I'm actually managing daily prayer for the first time in years.  A friend recommended the Lectio 365 app, and I've found listening to something rather than reading surprisingly helpful. It forces me to slow down and concentrate, rather than dashing through it.

Mental

Gardening is proven to improve mental health, I believe, and fortunately the lockdown happened at just the right time to start planting vegetables.  Watching seeds turn into little plants all by themselves made me feel like everything can't be totally wrong in the world.  The CDs are for bird scaring; they seem to have worked on the pigeons, but that's just given the sparrows the chance to peck at the plants instead!


We've also had some beautiful flowers in the rest of the garden.  Graham's favourites are the peonies.



Baking, apparently, is also stress relieving, which is why it's almost impossible to get hold of flour.  I've had fun experimenting with a few different recipes like beetroot brownies (4 tbsp flour!).   Theo wanted to make strawberry cake, and we celebrated Graham's birthday with a coconut cake.  The boys decided that it needed to be decorated with a tropical island, so Toby made a palm tree.




We also celebrated Graham's birthday with a delicious takeaway curry.  The boys declared it to be "the best meal ever!".  Considering neither of them would even touch curry six months ago, that's got to be good.  Graham and I are quickly adding Indian restaurants to the list of places we can eat as a family (previously limited to pizza, carveries and McDonalds).  When we can eat out, of course.


Finally, here's a funky photo of Toby and Theo that they created themselves.  At times like these, you have to keep counting your blessings, and these two are certainly high up on my list!