We have all done our first week of social isolation in the UK and it has been surreal, to say the least! The weather has been beautiful, with the sun shining, and the air cold and crisp, enticing us all out into the garden regularly. It feels as if spring is just around the corner and it makes the realisation, that we are all in lockdown and that this thing called 'Covid-19' is real - even more surreal.
A quick look at the news reveals that according to the BBC, by Thursday 26th March there 'were 11,658 cases and 578 deaths. And the numbers are still on the increase. 'But deputy chief medical officer for England Dr Jenny Harries did offer some positive news. According to the BBC (www.bbc.co.uk) she said the coronavirus outbreak was "starting to move in the right direction". Other countries who have been on a steep curve, have seen the number of new cases rise by a third every day, the UK trajectory is nowhere near that steep. Five days ago 1,000 new cases were reported. On Thursday 2,000 were. That may seem alarming, but if we had been on a steep upwards path today's figures would have been twice as high. It suggests some of the early social distancing measures taken before the lockdown have maybe started to have an impact' (see https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52056534 for full report).
So, although we are still at the very start of the journey of social isolation, it looks like things are starting to very slowly work and that motivates me to keep going. This week has been a real roller-coaster for us all as a family.
To my surprise, the hardest thing has been to figure out how to share childcare with my other half - and both still feel we are getting work done and be kind to each other. The pressure that companies are feeling to make ends meet is very real and translates directly to employees being asked to help figure out ways to get through this crisis. This causes more mental pressure (and preoccupation even after you have logged off) than I thought it would. I wonder whether isolation away from colleagues adds to that too - as rather than being able to pop out for a team coffee or pint and diffuse some of the pressure cooker atmosphere, everybody is mulling things over alone, at least initially.
The second thing I have found is that I have had a glimpse into how hard home schooling really is - when the novelty wears off after the first few days, and the kids need to be coaxed, persuaded and supported to get things done. I have gone from getting hugely frustrated about how sloooowwwwly we are getting the work done - as so much time is spent negotiating rather than 'doing' - to feeling like I should re-focus on playing, connecting and reassuring my kids rather than pushing them too hard. There have been conflicting views on the internet too, as people figure out how to negotiate these unprecedented times - from some teachers warning that children can fall behind if they don't do any work, to other teachers urging parents to focus on reassuring their children and allowing them to 'just be', to protect their mental health long term rather than stressing them out more. I have realised my son learns best in the morning and enjoys using online resources to get work done when he is tired. So, next week I am going to shift away from my routine and do as much of the set school work in the mornings as we can and then take a good long break together to recharge and connect and have fun - and see how we get on!
From talking to other parents this week, it feels like people are facing similar issues - of how to juggle kids' work with their own work and how much to be able to realistically get done. Plus letting go of the guilt when the expectations we set ourselves fall short of what is possible in reality.
How have you been getting on? I would love to hear your stories.