Family time during lockdown

Family time during lockdown

I am sure I am not alone in feeling the strangeness, the uncertainty or the challenges the lockdown period has so far presented to us all. It almost feels like we are living in a time outside of time, a limbo period with no clear end in sight, and a time where we rely on technology like never before to connect us to our friends, family and colleagues. In our small family units, we have limited physical contact with the outside world. We deeply miss our normal lives and perhaps feel we will never again take for granted what we once did. Those everyday interactions we usually have with other people, so suddenly taken away from us. Life is far simpler, quieter and less busy now. And yet we are all surviving and perhaps some of us are even thriving.

For every cloud has a silver lining; The sun has shined almost continuously on my children and I, spring has sprung and is blossoming, we are immersed in our local landscape for the first time since my children were toddlers and we are appreciating the beauty of nature very close to home with fresh eyes, observing the wild flowers and the buds unfurling and seeing the bluebells and wood anemones turn from tiny splashes of colour through to magnificent carpets covering the woodland floor. This is only possible because we are able to stop, pause, see, enjoy and return again and again to the same local beauty spots.

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We have been given the gift of time, rare in our modern world where we usually hit the fast-forward button on a daily basis in order to get everything done. For me this involves taxying my children from one place to the next, to school or to their next scheduled activity, or to playdates and parties and special outings, all blurring into one. Now I can reflect and pause and really begin to appreciate nature around us. And perhaps most importantly, to truly appreciate my son and daughter, and my other loved ones.

So during the past five weeks of lockdown, we have walked endlessly in our local woods and fields, splashed in streams and made dams, identified wild flowers and made spring flower cards, scootered around our village, lit small camp fires and cooked supper on them on cool spring evenings, been on Easter egg hunts and watched films together, played board games and read together, written and told stories, baked and cooked and eaten in the garden and painted, crafted and drawn, observed ducklings hatching and swans, moorhens and mallards busy making their nests, preparing for their own new broods. I have got to grips with Zoom and Google classroom in order to enable my children to learn at home. And we are all learning together.

I have included in this post a number of photos, a flavour of this period. I also wanted to include the poem below, scribbled down one afternoon when out exploring the local woodland with my two children:

The pause button has been pressed
We are waiting, as if in slumber

Our lives reduced to the confines of our four walls, our immediate family, our garden and our local

woodland.
Yet there is beauty in simplicity
And in silence.
We grow used to a new routine,

Even as the days stretch out before us uncertain and so long,

We reach out and touch the world

Through the internet.

It is expansive and wondrous, this modern invention,

Enabling us to stay connected

To what is out there, waiting for our return.

One day we shall look back at this strange time of hibernation,
The words social isolation and distancing, Covid 19 and Corona only a memory then.
But they are ever present now, and their implications stand stark all around us.

My children draw rainbows, symbolizing hope, as we thank the universe for being healthy and alive:

We shall live through this crisis and walk stronger out the other side.

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Spring is one of my favourite times of year. I would love to share the beauty of nature at its youngest and most beautiful, emerging after such a wet winter, now so dry and bright and immensely green, with all the little ones I have grown to know and cherish at playgroup. To observe their playing in the woods, hear their laughter and join in their conversations and their singing. It is what I love the most about my job and why I have been working at GEPG now for six years.

We are all missing each other and so look forward to the day we can return to playgroup and meet each other in person again. Yet throughout this period, we must look on the bright side, we must stay safe and protect lives by staying at home. Paint rainbows with our children as a symbol of hope, knowing one day we shall again marvel at a real rainbow shining brightly in the sky, whilst splashing in puddles with a whole group of children, not just our own.

Caroline Greenwood

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