With the nation on the cusp of the biggest relaxation of rules since lockdown began and with my eldest into her second week of school, it seemed a good time to reflect on the last three months.
Dear Sofia, Maria and Gabriella,
What a very strange time we’ve been living through since March 23rd. Who could have imagined what was to come when we saw the New Year in with lots of friends and family just 12 weeks before?
Not going to school (and the arrival of homeschooling), not seeing family and friends, not visiting lots of interesting places or doing our favourite activities and not going to cafés and restaurants has all been rather odd and rather disappointing. However, it hasn’t been all bad.
We’ve been in our own little bubble with daddy and I both working from home. We eat lunch (often whilst watching Bargain Hunt or Blackadder!) and dinner together every day instead of just at weekends, which is lovely. Daddy gets to see you before bed every night; before, that hardly ever happened.
During lockdown we have been out walking together so much more. We’ve found so many great spots and routes right on our doorstep where we’ve discovered friendly horses, outdoor apparatus; lots of birds, butterflies and wildlife, and even slushy vendors! There’ve been swings that have popped up from nowhere and puzzle trails that have been laid by a thoughtful local resident. I think we have figured out every footpath and short cut there is in Banstead. Who could forget the Town and Down trail that was meant to be 5.5 miles but ended up being eight!? We’ve even joined a tennis club as a family despite the fact I’ve never played before.
We had fabulous weather pretty much the whole of April and May – the sunniest spring on record in fact. It’s meant that we’ve enjoyed the garden to the full. We’ve all helped with making it look nice by weeding, planting flowers and vegetables and painting the fence. The sprinkler, archery, netball, badminton, tree climbing and hideouts; it’s been our haven. I can’t remember a spring where we’ve been able to spend so much time outside and have so many BBQs and picnics; we even managed to get a few deliveries from the ice-cream man to our house. The VE Day 75th anniversary was an absolute scorcher and I know you all loved having a ‘party’ and picnic in the front garden.
There’s been plenty of indoor activity too: board games, poker, baking, lots of films, The Shows Must Go On (Phantom of the Opera had you all mesmerised); quizzes and Zoom, FaceTime and House party calls to friends have been regular events.
Jack the cat came to us at the very end of April and he’s been a fantastic addition to our family and brought so much lockdown cheer. It’s clear to see how much love you have for him.
I think this time has made us all appreciate what we do have a lot more. We’ve been enjoying spending more time together and doing simpler activities; we’ve realised just how lucky we are to have a lovely outdoor space to spend time in at the weekend or to have a break in during the homeschool week. We’re not constantly rushing around to this club, that playdate or that meeting and that’s been great.
Things we took for granted before have suddenly taken on a special significance. When Nonno was finally able to come and visit it was a major event, as it was when Adam and Lauren visited. When cafés and restaurants started opening for takeaway and delivery, we were so excited. Walking up to the high street and getting a milkshake was the best thing ever as was getting a home delivery from Five Guys and Fego (one being the Father’s Day breakfast!).
I have been truly amazed at how well you have all coped and your fantastic resilience. There have been very few moans about the situation and it’s been so heart-warming to see you all get on better than ever and work together. You have all shown so much kindness and consideration to each other and there’s been hardly any fighting or arguing. I think without having your school friends to see you’ve really appreciated the friendship you have with each other.
Sofia, I feel you’ve really matured in the last 13 weeks; helping around the house without being asked, doing things independently like jumping in the shower, sorting laundry, making dad and me cups of tea and coffee and even making breakfast for everyone at the weekends.
After I learnt to stop meddling, you were a dream with homeschooling. You’ve known exactly what you’ve needed to do and just wanted to get on with it, so much so your MO was to march through it all (diligently) so you could have Thursday afternoon and Friday off. It wasn’t all Neflix in your spare time though, you also helped your sisters with their home learning; frontal adverbials stick in my mind. You’ve been a great big sister.
Your daily dance routines, making care packages for friends and then going on a long trek to do doorstep deliveries, making smoothies, music, spas… these are some of the things I’ll remember.
You started back at school on June 22nd and despite it being a very different place to the one you left in March you’ve got back into your stride immediately.
Maria and Gabby, your already strong bond has strengthened even more. I’ve been so thankful that you have each other as natural playmates. Although you were envious of Sofia going back to school it hasn’t been nearly as bad as it could have been as you’ve been able to homeschool and play together as best friends.
It’s fair to say that homeschool isn’t your favourite thing ever and I sometimes get a little stressed doing my work and helping you both, but you have been fantastic. It was great when we had breakthroughs with things, particularly in maths. I do feel like we’ve all learnt lots.
You have been so understanding about not seeing your friends despite the disappointment. When you’ve had the occasional distanced doorstep visit it has meant so much to you. You’ve both been so inventive with your play; secret hideouts and lookouts in the garden have been your thing. Gabby, you have become obsessed with gymnastics and you literally cartwheel around the house and garden at any opportunity. You’ve perfected the backbend, bridge and kickover, and are amazing on the monkey bars! Maria, for you it’s all been about climbing trees, you even have your favourite ‘climbing trees.’ Your first question whenever we go for a walk is: “Will there be trees to climb?” You’re also the instigator of the dens and hideouts.
As July 4th approaches, we can hopefully look forward to a bit more ‘normal’ returning. We’ve all learnt a lot about the true value of family and friendship and what really matters, which we must not forget.
I’m very proud of you all.