Day 15: March 2020 and the new normal

Happy Anniversary 11 Years card with a handpainted watercolour badger head

Six weeks ago to the day, I was out in Brighton with friends to celebrate my 40th birthday. We had cocktails and sang karaoke and it was a blast. It feels very surreal to see how things have changed in such a short time. March 2020 will be remembered in the UK as the month when everything went nuts. This is the new normal for the foreseeable future (as seen on Facebook, author unknown – my additions in bold):

  • Fuel prices dropped a record amount (now £1.08/litre)
  • Self-distancing measures on a rise.
  • Tape on the floors at food stores and others to help distance shoppers 2m (6ft) from each other.
  • Limited number of people inside stores, therefore lineups outside the store doors.
  • Non-essential stores and businesses mandated closed.
  • Parks, trails, entire cities locked up.
  • Entire sports seasons cancelled.
  • Concerts, tours, festivals, entertainment events – cancelled.
  • Weddings, family celebrations, holiday gatherings – cancelled.
  • Funerals limited to children/parents/spouses of deceased.
  • No other family or friends.
  • No masses, churches are closed.
  • Schools are all closed.
  • No gatherings permitted.
  • Don’t socialize with anyone outside of your home.
  • We are to distance from each other.
  • Shortage of masks, gowns, gloves for our front-line workers.
  • Shortage of respirators for the critically ill.
  • Panic buying sets in and we have no toilet paper, no disinfecting supplies, no paper towel, no laundry soap, no hand sanitizer. (and no pasta or flour!)
  • Shelves are bare.
  • Manufacturers, distilleries and other businesses switch their lines to help make visors, masks, hand sanitizer and PPE.
  • Government closes the border to all non essential travel and makes it mandatory to self isolate for 14 days when returning. (or is it 7 days? or not at all? The government changes its mind a lot and doesn’t quite follow the WHO guidance)
  • Fines are established for breaking the rules.
  • Fines for those price-gauging others.
  • Stadiums and recreation facilities open up for the overflow of Covid-19 patients.
  • Press conferences daily from the Prime Minister. (or one of his minions, because the PM’s earlier boastful hand-shaking didn’t end well)
  • Barely anyone in the street or on the roads. (apart from all the morons shopping for flowers, crowding the parks or having a fun time at Cheltenham.)
  • People wearing masks and gloves outside.
  • Essential service workers are terrified to go to work.
  • Medical workers are afraid to go home to their families.
  • Many people placed on furlough and unable to work with the government paying 80% of their wage.
  • Joe Wicks shows us how unfit we all are.
  • An overwhelming amount of homeschooling stuff online – where do you even start?
  • Volunteers come out the woodwork to support the community and deliver shopping to our most vulnerable.
  • Clapping for the NHS.
  • Zoom saves our sanity.
  • They say it started in Wuhan, China at a seafood market. Hundreds of thousands affected, dead, dying, critically ill.
  • Many recovered.
  • This is the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic, declared March 11th, 2020.
  • Why, you ask, do I write this status? One day it will show up in my memory feed, and it will be a yearly reminder that life is precious. To not take the things we dearly love for granted. We have so much! Be thankful. Be grateful. Be kind to each other – love one another – support everyone. 💜

Meanwhile at home

On a more personal note, today is Badgerman and I’s 11th wedding anniversary, which we are going to celebrate with one of our favourite’s celebration dinner Duck with Lentils, which is always way more delicious than expected followed by rhubarb crumble and a Mojito. A couple of weeks ago we suddenly remembered our anniversary was coming up and gave each other a wild look. I completely forgot to buy a card (not least because I’ve not left the house) and I was ill yesterday so I made him a watercolour badger this afternoon as a belated apology for not being organised and requesting ‘a knife’ as a present as this year is the steel anniversary.

We are all well as is our extended family. We started the Easter holidays early and the relaxed routine has helped everyone’s sanity.

Lockdown Recommendations

Cards Against Humanity have released a Family Edition and it is free to print at home. I can’t wait to try this with the kids, and we’re going to Zoom with friends for a big fat multi-player game. The more the merrier! I’ve not tried this yet but are a ‘Virtual Tabletop’ where you can play card games with friends live online. You can then have Zoom or Skype in the background so you can talk to each other. You can play Checkers, Match Up or Remote Insensitivity (otherwise knowns as the original Cards vs Humanity) and other games.

Tutorials: Our favourite creative arts tutorials are Rob Biddulph’s Draw With Rob and McArt Studio.

Musicals! I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the YouTube Channel The Shows Must Go On! will release a full-length musical every Friday for free (streaming for 48 hours) and Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat is on RIGHT NOW. For the record, I watched Joseph for the first time only a few months ago and I was DEEPLY puzzled – to put it mildly – at how this is a show that children are encouraged to watch. I mean, Donny Osmond’s hair, Mrs Potiphar’s weird sex dungeon need I say anymore? This is one weird show.

What’s keeping you sane in these testing times?


Day 7: anxiety

colourful hand-drawn unicorn

Today’s been a hard day. I miss normal life. I miss not being afraid. I miss people and talking and going out. Nothing particular has happened, I’ve just been tearful and lonely all day. I fought off the temptation to switch off, go back to bed and hide and I’ve just tried not to show it to the girls and be normal.

We had an ‘inset day’ of sorts. The girls started the day with a drawing tutorial and did some maths. They chatted to friends on Zoom and watched a lot of TV and YouTube videos. We didn’t do any PE, we didn’t bake any bread as I’d planned. I did some work and listened to an audio book.

colourful unicorn drawn by Lucie, called Glitter, likes rainbows, eats colour food pink, red, yellow, orange and pink

In the afternoon, as I was feeling particularly sorry for myself, a friend knocked at the door to deliver a thoughtful care package of French brioche and biscuits, which was lovely and kind and I’m feeling tearful again just thinking about it. We had a quick chat from a respectable distance and that’s the first chat I’ve had with someone not from my family in a week so that was nice. I’m an introvert and a pretty poor friend in general, not keeping in touch with people very well, and I felt grateful and overwhelmed. And now I’ve also tried a Welsh cake for the first time and enjoyed it, and I’m feeling tearful again because man, this is the longest day. I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow in better spirits. I don’t have any good words, and I am not going to give you any words of encouragement or put a brave face to it. Today’s been sad with a touch of sunshine. I am grateful for the sunshine, and I am sad and scared and grateful for friends.

Sending everyone hugs and kisses from my living room xxx

Covid-19 Diary Day 3 & 4 – no biscuits

Child rainbow drawing to cheer up duringCovid-19 using the colours red, pink yellow and black. It reads 'Beat the Bugs! Covid-19 is killing people! Be safe.
L’s ‘rainbow’

23/03/2020 Day 3

Dear Diary, no one should have to homeschool children whilst also trying to fit in 7.5 hours of work. It’s not humanly possible. And what’s worse? No biscuits in the house.

Are digestives biscuits? Or are they really dust, crushed and shaped into a biscuit to fool the unsuspected person? (I know they are, it’s a rhetorical question – for emphasis of my PAIN) I miss langues de chat and madeleines – hand on, that’s cak… whatever, I miss all the other food made with fat and sugar and all the good stuff. It is in times like these that I miss French biscuits. Instead I had to have a carrot. This working at home is making me psychologically hungry and I am a complete lightweight.

I wrote this late last night when I was tired and I think it shows a bit.

The kids were absolute stars. We started the day as planned. They made their beds and helped sort out a basket-full of washing just because it was on the schedule. I am learning things I never knew before but I think it’s just the novelty that’s making them do it and it probably won’t last a week.

At 9 am I set them up for the free daily PE lesson with Joe Wicks from The Body Coach TV with apparently the rest of the world (did he get like 600K visits or something, the man has struck exposure gold with this). I absconded to the office and about 20 minutes later one of them collapsed at the bottom of the stairs and huffed: ‘we are so tired we want to stop now it’s too hard!’. I came down to find that Joe Wicks himself was also out of breath. This is a kids’ PE session Joe, what are you doing? I must check it out properly to make sure he’s not on a mission to turn a whole generation of primary school kids into body builders in 12 weeks.

I can’t remember the rest of the day but I think things went OK. I already can’t remember how the day went. This does not bode well.

24/03/2020 Day 4

Dear Diary, Tuesday is my day off and Badgerman is not at work so we have been more available for the kids. We did the PE session as a family, which was the best and also the worst. I ran out of breath half-way through the warm-up, a sure sign that I need to keep going with it but god it nearly killed us all!

We followed this lesson plan (a whole week on Space) and adjusted it for a 6 year old and 8 year old and it made everything way easier. Badgerman borrowed maths materials from his school including two foldable desks and some small whiteboards so we are all set. The girls had their first Zoom with their friends (cue hysterical laughter, they were SO excited) and I can already tell it is going to really help them as not seeing their friends is going to be the most challenging bit yet.

Emilie’s 42-day drawing challenge we posted yesterday was a big hit on Facebook and she quite rightly felt really chuffed with the response. As one of her friends told her: “you’re almost famous!”.

Badgerman went to the shops and came back with most of the things we needed so I am delighted. We’re not buying anything we don’t immediately need, and I’m not sure if we needed to fumigate everything he brought back before putting them in the fridge-freezer. I washed my hands twice and cleaned the handles I touched afterwards. It’s so hard to know what is appropriate protection and what is overkill.

I’m going to try to switch off from social media for the rest of the day now and relax with a book. Tomorrow is another day.

Keep safe everyone, and for all our sakes please stay at home!

Day 1 and 2 – the beginning

mother's day card from 6 year old
‘Dear Mummy, Happy Mothers Day. I love you so much I love you two bits – Are we going out for dinner or lunch of breakfast. From marvellous, amazing and beautiful Lucie xxx

Yes I am going to be super creative and totally unique and keep an isolation diary so you can all see inside my tediously mundane life. One day we can all look back and observe the gradual unravelling of my consciousness into raving madness as it is ravaged by the relentless demands of bored hungry kids. You’re welcome, and see you on the other side.

Day 1 – yesterday 21 March 2020

It’s the weekend so we are doing nothing at all as per the usual. What bliss, let’s do it again tomorrow, and the day after, and the day af… Dear god what hell have we plunged into.

Let me start with a disclaimer: I myself can do nothing without a routine. Without routine, I will just plunge into an endless cycle of reading and tv bingeing occasionally interspersed by guilt. Without routine, I am aimless and utterly without self-discipline. I know this; I’m not proud of it, but it is what it is. The only thing that makes me actually bloody good at my job is the prospect of money (and also that I like helping people but let’s face it, money and the fear of getting sacked are really strong incentives). We are starting strong and I am going to RULE at this social distancing working from home with kids stuff.

I decided to switch off social media after lunch because it was driving me crazy and I settled on the sofa to read. Badgerman revelled in the fact that he might also get some reading done, unprecedented scenes people, this is unknown territory. He is shitting it though, I can tell. Uncertainty does not sit well with him at all, although of course I am guessing this because he is keeping it all very close to his chest. Being a maths’ teacher in secondary, he’s got to go in on Monday to support children of key workers, but it might be his only day in, and he will do remote teaching for all of his classes, with so far zero clue as to how it’s all going to work.

I sent the girls out to the garden to clean the trampoline and pick up broken twigs and branches leftover by the various storms we’ve had since before Christmas. It’s a bright sunny day, but freezing cold and windy and they are over the novelty of it in 10 minutes but would also like to do some planting. I defer for when it’s warmer and we don’t risk all our seeds getting blown away – soon please god let it be soon amen.

I’m working out a loose plan of action for Monday when I am supposed to do 7.5 hrs of work remotely with the girls roaming in the house far away from the office. Maybe something like this:

7.30 am – 8.30 am: get up / breakfast / brush teeth / hair / get dressed

8.30 am – 9 am: chores – make bed / tidy bedroom / laundry

9 am – 10 am: PE / yoga / trampoline – make this last as long as possible

9.30 – 10.30 am: reading / writing / maths – no electronics (I’m hoping the school will give me some clue so I can just assign them some exercises)

10.30 – 11.30 am: something creative: drawing, painting, building, baking, lego challenge / YouTube tutorials

By the way, E has made a 42-day drawing challenge – suitable for ages 4 + and all abilities. It’s fabulous and you can get it for free on my Facebook Page.

11.30 – 1 pm: TV / Lunch / do whatever you want

1 pm – 2 pm: stuff with electronics – research / project / Hit the Button / Times Tables Rock Stars / BBC Bitesize / Horrible Histories / Blue Planet type documentary

3 pm – 5 pm: gardening / walk to the countryside if we are still allowed / Zoom and emails with friends / daily journal / 1 family board game

5 pm – 6 pm: free time so probably Roblox and YouTube videos

6 – 8 pm: dinner and movie

8 – 9 pm: kids wind down/get ready for bedtime

9 pm: gin and tonic / wine / icecream

We can laugh together when it all crumbles to nothing in the next 48 hours.

Day 2 – Mother’s Day

My anxiety has been all over the place this last week. It’s fear pure and simple, and it crops up here and there and there isn’t really anything for it, for one thing it’s not irrational fear so what’re you gonna do? Tiredness has been particularly high so I stocked up on Floradix tablets (vitamins and iron) but I still found that by 6 pm my entire body was starting to seize up from sheer exhaustion. Don’t underestimate the power of stress to affect your body at every level. My main advice here is: don’t ignore your body. Listen to what it’s telling you and look after it.

I’ve booked myself into a free online social media marketing course, and I’m joining into a yoga class, a singing warm up group and an exercise class to musical theatre routines. If I don’t fit in some fun things to do for me, I am going to turn into Ms Trunchbull and things are going to get ugly, and let’s just say there are so very random things on offer online at the moment.

It’s a bright and sunny day again today, Spring is finally here. I was treated to loads of beautiful cards and bacon and egg muffins. The girls are out playing limbo hop. We are going to get through this.