March 23, 2020 is a day most of us in the UK will never forget. The unthinkable and the unimaginable happened to us all. Our world stopped. Everyone glued to their televisions unable to comprehend what was happening around them. Some scared, some down right frightened and others skeptical with their own conspiracy theories. No matter how you felt about that day and about the announcement made by the Prime Minster, it was a national UK lockdown for us all here.
The UK lockdown has strict rules to adhere to with penalty fees or worse if we didn’t abide by. It meant we couldn’t leave our homes for anything except essential food and/or medicine. We were allowed outside once a day for a walk in our own neighborhood within a 5 mile radius, on our own. No households could mix. No contact with anyone, not even our parents, or grandparents.
We had to quickly become teachers to our children, work from home without office setups whilst caring for our babies and homeschooling. We instantly had to become the best multi-taskers that ever lived because no where in history has anyone had to accomplish so much in a day as we were forced to do, during lockdown.
There is no sugar coating it that it was a struggle for everyone, in all different ways.
Keyworkers were separated from their families for chunks at a time. Parents that had jobs that they couldn’t homeschool their children were stuck with having to either risk sending them to school, if they could or plugging them into electronics to entertain them to get through the day. I have no judgment, there are a million other scenarios of how we all survived those months of the first lockdown. Everyone just did the best they could.
I personally took the first lockdown one day at a time. There was too much unknown and it was scary to try to predict what the future held for my family. Having two homeschoolers, a baby and a full time job and hubby that was locked in a loft office in meetings all day, was not easy. And I know I didn’t even have it as bad as others.
We were grateful to have a back yard/garden to play in when it was nice out when others in apartments didn’t. We were grateful that we had enough space in the house that everyone could claim their own corner when they needed peace when others did. The list goes on of how grateful in those terrifying moments I felt for the little things in life we did have. It’s those things we took for granted when life was normal that got us through it.
Then in the summer of 2020, it seemed that life could start getting back to normal. We got hopeful. Shops started to open up and take-away food could be bought. School was closed till September but we felt a little relief that we could walk outside with one other person outside our household. It seemed a big deal after months of being locked in our homes, alone.
But then we went into a tier system of lockdowns.
We won the bad luck lottery and happen to live in the worse part of the country for cases of covid-19 and therefore had to stay in the highest tier of lockdown. Schools opened in September but the life that resumed was anything but normal.
This is when I started feeling the struggle of lockdown life. This is when I noticed it affecting my children more. They didn’t really get what was going on at ages 6 and 8 years old. The first lockdown where Mommy taught them their lessons and the weather was scorching outside so they could play in the paddling pool almost just seemed like a weird holiday they had taken. But as winter set in and lockdown came upon Daddy’s birthday in January 2021 it took it’s toll on all of us.
Having missed all our holidays and celebrated all our birthdays in lockdown, we were desperate to see light at the end of the tunnel. The kids spoke to their friends on Facetime but they started really needing that human interaction. I had to tell them, they would be homeschooling again and wouldn’t see their friends again for who knows how long for lockdown number three.
The third lockdown seemed to be the most emotional one.
It wasn’t new to us. It was winter. We were all sick of the same four walls and not having outside influences in our lives. Whilst I like to think we all handled it as positive as we could, I knew deep down it still was leaving it’s mark on each one of us.
Probably the only person in our family of five to take a blessing from a year in lockdown was the baby. He had a year of complete attention from at least one family member at all times. Baby O had someone to play with all day, everyday. He bonded with his siblings like never before. Normally, they were at school all day and instead he had them at his beck and call. He flourished with this love and attention. And I am so grateful that I had this extra time with him where he would have been at nursery part of the time while I worked.
But selfishly, I missed the year of baby and toddler classes he could have experienced. Those classes where I could have met other moms with babies his age to make friends with. Where he could have played with other kids his own age. He has one year before school starts so I am hoping to rectify this when things start opening up for him. I want and need to make up for lost play dates with others.
All three of my children coped differently in the UK lockdown.
My older two children experienced very different lockdown journeys than each other. My eldest son was good with technology, joining all his classmates on various sites to communicate and play games with regularly. It kept him feeling connected and a bit of normality with friendly camaraderie.
However, my middle daughter didn’t like speaking on the Facetime. She didn’t like not seeing her friends in front of her to play with. I think she felt more lonely in those months with that lost connection. She was 6 years old when covid started. She didn’t understand as much as her older brother did. I remember her asking me, “why won’t you let us play with our friends and leave the house now Mommy?” It broke my heart that she thought I would purposely do this to her. Even after explaining, I don’t think it was clear in the beginning, to her.
It took until the third lockdown for her to open up about how she was feeling and start talking on Facetime with her friends because we didn’t know how long this was going to last. It really changed her spirits after that. regrettably, I should have pushed it further in the beginning. I was so glad she still loved her piano lessons online and all the baking and crafting we did to keep her occupied helped too.
As parents, we had to keep things entertaining, upbeat, and happy for the kids at all times and for each other. It wasn’t always easy to do.
I know hubby and I felt pretty much the same during our year of UK lockdown. It was a bit like groundhogs day everyday. He had his to do lists and I had mine and were were on separate sides of the house most days. There was pure boredom. It was lonely. It was filled with worry of the unknown, having a high risk child was also always on our minds. We were in a state of shock of what our lives had become but tried to stay motivated with both our own businesses to run and positive for each other as much as for the kids.
Both feeling it was much harder to be in lockdown in the winter than it was the spring/summer. We tried our best to get the kids out walking every day for fresh air and a change of scenery. It would only lighten our moods for a little bit but that weird feeling in the pit of my stomach always came back.
When will the UK lockdown end?
I think like most of the world, we had exhausted all our Netflix and Amazon Prime TV series whilst eating and drinking far more than we would have ever done at home. Our healthy habits of the gym and only treating ourselves on the weekend quickly became something in the past. We grew new habits, bad habits that will take a while to break.
Obviously, bad habits or bad living makes you feel more sluggish and ill tempered. The less we did the more tired we felt. It was a bit of a catch 22 on the energy levels. I look back at my calendar and wonder how did I ever do so much with the kids, work and activities with a baby all in one day. How will I ever get back to that with no energy and lack of motivation now?
I definitely was more efficient when I was busy and tied to a routine and a schedule.
It has been like living through a scary movie and pinching yourself only to find your not sleeping and you don’t know when the movie will end. You don’t want to take anything for granted or wish these precious years of the kids being young away but you want life to speed up so you can see the light again.
Having experienced such a harsh UK lockdown for so long, whilst being an expat, definitely has affected me more than my hubby. He has his mom in his bubble. My mom was all alone in another country so far from me. I worried about her. I was homesick for my home and my family. She had just lost my dad and her mother the year before. The miles between us ached in my very bones. I was desperate to have her be with us or us be with her.
My siblings are all over the United States and some didn’t really even have a lockdown. I was jealous of their freedom but also scared for their safety. It was a mix of emotions checking on everyone each week. A few of my family members started getting covid and I won’t lie it panicked me to my very core. Even now months after surviving covid they still feel it and a tiny piece of me worries about it.
We aren’t even at the end of UK lockdown yet. One year on and we have a national plan to slowly come out of UK lockdown but the reality is, no one really knows. Will face masks and social distancing become a normal thing in our everyday life? I really do wonder.
Will we always have to talk through plastic windows in the shops and elbow tap a hello instead of a handshake?
The main thing is, it’s been a tough, rollercoaster year for us all. It will go down in history books and there will be movies and TV shows about covid-19 and the world pandemic, no doubt. Each country experienced something different and each person experienced something different.
I just pray we survive it. We need to remember what we have learned during the hard times and cherish the extra good times we got with our families. I hope it somehow unites more people, having all experienced some form of lockdown and covid-19 challenges. I want people to not judge each other and not make it out that others don’t have anything to complain about. We all have something to complain about in the last year, that is one thing I am certain. Everyone deserves to be heard. Everyone deserves to be hugged and appreciated.
The little things we used to take for granted need to be always at the forefront of our minds now.
Covid-19 may have uprooted, killed, taken away a lot from the human race but let’s not let it take our humanity. Please have more compassion, love, understanding, and patience for all those around you and beyond. May we all get through this together, united as one world.