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Now noone has said that lockdown will be properly ending anytime soon. Coronavirus certainly isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future. But it’s clear that as a country we are starting to take steps towards opening everything back up. And I’m finding myself having mixed feelings about it. In fact, I’m actually feeling really anxious about lockdown ending.
Longing for a bit of normality
It’s been, what, eight or something weeks of lockdown now?! I’ve actually lost count, and in a way, I can’t believe it’s been that long!!! I mean, that’s crazy isn’t it?! Longer than the school summer holidays. And just think how ready most of us usually feel after that time for getting a bit of normality and routine back.
But the fact is, even after lockdown, things are going to be far from normal. For a long time. It’s actually quite difficult to imagine things ever being quite how they were before all this started. I mean, imagine being stood right next to someone in a shop. Or crammed in like sardines with a hundred strangers on the rush-hour commute. (Not that I’ve ever really done that but you get my point!)
Taking one day at a time
Anyway, there’s not much point in thinking too far ahead into the future really, as it is just so impossible to picture how things will be. All through this pandemic so far, I’ve tried hard to just take one day at a time.
At the beginning, the thought of months at home stretching ahead of me was quite frankly terrifying! Then we found ourselves actually quite enjoying staying at home. Of course the novelty of home learning and so on did wear off and there have been a lot of moments when it’s all just felt very intense and relentless. (Especially the amount of whinging from the twiglets when you’re subjected to it all day!)
But with everything going on, it’s been very comforting staying as safe as possible in our little family bubble. The worst thing has been missing close family – ie my mum and sister, who we would usually see at least a couple of times a week.
Moving towards the end of lockdown
So now that announcements have been made signalling the beginning of the end of lockdown, it’s left me feeling very unsettled and anxious. It hasn’t helped of course, that the advice seems to be a bit ambiguous and open to interpretation.
To me it all feels a bit soon to be thinking about spending prolonged amounts of time hanging out in parks or having socially distanced meet-ups with people from other households. Maybe it’s just me but I’d like to see the numbers quite a bit lower really before thinking about any of this.
I do recognise by the way, that I’m in a privileged position to say that. Lockdown for me hasn’t been really tough like it has for some people. I’m lucky enough to live in a home where I feel safe with a lovely husband and children. We have a garden so we’ve been easily able to spend lots of time outdoors when the weather’s been nice. I know there must be a lot of people longing for lockdown to end for all sorts of reasons.
Feeling anxious about going out more
I’m feeling uneasy thinking about going out more. At the moment, we only go out for a walk once every few days and the other half goes to the supermarket once a week. And that’s pretty much it really! I already feel more nervous even about the husband going shopping. As it seems like a lot of people have already become way too relaxed about social distancing – ie not even bothering.
I do try to keep it in perspective. At the start of it all, I wasn’t really too worried about us as a family getting the virus. And I know that the vast majority of people just get it mildly. But as time’s gone on, I’ve become more nervous about it, having seen the death rate going up and up. I think I’m more worried about us getting it and spreading it to more vulnerable people though really.
But the thought of going to a garden centre or going to hang out in the sun for hours outside feels scary to me! I hate the thought of my mum meeting a friend and sitting on a park bench (even at a distance). All it would take would be one infected person to cough in their hand then touch the bench, and it could be spread to loads of others. It just all feels too early, with the numbers still as high as they are.
And now that we can drive to anywhere we like in the country, what happens when everyone piles down to the beaches on hot days and social distancing is impossible? I can’t imagine it being policed enough to keep it safe. And if people have driven for 3 hours to get there, they’re not just going to turn back!
I think we as a family will just carry on as we are for now to be honest. I don’t really feel the need to change anything we’re doing yet.
Feeling anxious about schools returning
One of the biggest worries for me and lots of other parents of course is about schools going back. It sounds like this could well be beginning in just a few weeks. The twiglets are in Reception so would be among the first pupils to return to school. At the moment I feel absolutely torn as to whether I would send them in or not. There are quite a few reasons why I feel particularly anxious about this.
How the frick can social distancing work in primary schools?!
First of all, I can’t envisage how social distancing could work logistically in most primary schools. Even with classes of 15, there’s no way pupils could be 2 metres apart from each other. Not in any classroom I’ve ever taught in anyway!
And what happens when one needs the toilet? Will there be enough spare adults on hand to accompany kids and ensure they keep their distance in the corridors? Will they be policing handwashing every time a kid goes? H for one is a bloody nightmare and will only wash his hands thoroughly for 20 seconds if someone is basically standing over him!
Also, to me it just seems utterly bonkers to send Reception kids back first. The youngest children with the least understanding of social distancing, who are, let’s face it, quite frankly gross and prone to licking each other. I mean, whyyyy?!
I get that the early years are important in laying foundations for future learning, getting the basics of reading and writing etc. But in other countries, children don’t even start school until 7 so it can’t be that detrimental surely?
To be fair, the twigs do understand the idea of social distancing pretty well. When we’re out on a walk, they’ll dutifully move out of the way if anyone comes towards us. But often only with reminders. Left to their own devices, and especially if they were to see friends, I’m quite sure the notion would go right out the window!
And why shouldn’t it?? That brings me on to my next point…
How will it affect kids’ mental health?
I really worry about the mental health of our kids if they have to go school but practise social distancing. For one thing, it just seems so sad to me. Socialisation is such an important part of school life, especially in Reception. One of the main reasons I would want them to go back to school would be to see their friends. But if they can’t hug them or be close to them or even really play properly, is there actually any point?? And they may well not end up even being with them anyway, as they will be taught in smaller groups.
I feel like Reception children would surely have to be taught in a different way too. No way could they be moving freely around the room doing independent activities. Particularly not all the messy activities they’d have been used to. It would have to be a much more bums-on-seats way of learning wouldn’t it?
And I just keep imagining how awful it would be if one of the twigs hurt themselves and was upset, but noone was allowed to come near enough to comfort them. The thought of that just breaks my heart. As a teacher, I couldn’t imagine being able to maintain social distancing in that situation, and maybe they won’t. But teachers have to protect themselves and think of their own families too don’t they? Otherwise they’re just being put at massive risk. And imagine how terrifying and impersonal for the kids if teachers end up wearing masks and so on. Argh minefield!
Could returning to school delay seeing other family?
I also worry that if the twigs have been in school, mixing with other kids and exposed to goodness knows what, it might make me extremely nervous to see my mum when that time comes. She’s not clinically extremely vulnerable, but she is 70 and at risk due to a couple of factors.
Obviously we’re all desperate to see her and spend time with her again. But equally she’s my only parent now after my dad passed away, and the twigs’ only grandparent, and I’m paranoid about keeping her safe and protecting her. It would be so horrible to have to delay seeing her further because of any extra risk the twigs could pose to her, having been at school.
What if you don’t send your kids back to school?
I’ve spoken to quite a few mums who have already stated categorically that their children will not be going back in June. The fact is, I’m a stay-at-home mum for four days. Goodness knows what will happen on my one teaching day (not one of the year groups going back first). But my point was that for four days at least, the twigs could easily stay home with me. So you almost feel like is there any point risking it?
Equally though, I was so devastated when we first thought their Reception year was over and they wouldn’t be going back until September. I was so sad they wouldn’t see their friends or teachers again, so it would be hard to deprive them of that opportunity. But then, if it’s going to involve social distancing and just be a really weird, potentially not very nice experience for them, is it worth it anyway??
Basically, I’m going round in circles in my head! I should just try not to worry about it until we know more definite information. But it’s hard though!
So what now?
Maybe in the next few days or weeks, things will become clearer as we get more information. Or maybe after all the bellends having parties recently, there’ll end up being a second wave and schools won’t go back before September after all. Who knows? I guess we just have to continue doing our best to take one day at at time. I must admit, I’m finding it harder now that we are beginning to move out of lockdown.
It feels like our safe little bubble is slowly beginning to burst.
How are you feeling about it all? Are you happy about the idea of schools going back soon? Or do you find yourself, like me, feeling anxious about lockdown ending?
Stay safe and thanks for reading this brain splurge! Til next time,
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