Categories
Development and discovery Family lockdown

The Return to Not Quite Normal

When the letter to return to work arrived my heart sank, whilst many may have struggled with lockdown and restrictions, we have relished in the bonus time together with our little Munchkin. If you have had a hard time, I am sorry and don’t worry, for that I feel very guilty.

But with a 15 month old at the start of furlough, we got to spend so much precious extra time together. I was luckily furloughed on full pay and Natalie had a lot to do to support her children she teaches, but could do a lot at home with us as well.

However, this time came to an end when I returned to my normal place of work, even if not for my normal job. And thats where the lack of normality begins. My hours are different and the job is different. We have queued to arrive at work, and to leave at home time and my closest friends are still working from home. Though that said, its been good to form bonds and develop friendships with those I haven’t had chance to before.

For Munchkin, he has returned to nursery this week ending his dream 6 months with Daddy and then Mummy. We have done, and developed, so much over this time, but it will be great for him to be back with kids his age to play and build friendships with. This is now the start of the stark difference from the nice and relaxed, peaceful furlough time to the mad rush again from home to nursery to work and back.

We finally started walking

The alleviation of lockdown has meant it has also been nice to visit family again, without staying garden bound and feeling like we shouldn’t even use the bathroom. Although, we are still far from the times of hugs and proper contact. Luckily for the Nanny’s, the return to nursery also means the return to Nanny childcare days. That’ll be good for them and Munchkin both. I know for sure its been very hard not seeing him properly for so long.

So while everything is different, let’s enjoy this time before the inevitable ‘second spike’ we have been warned of, which could be on the horizon. Though, let’s hope it doesn’t happen. As much as I enjoyed furlough, I dont think the country can afford to do it again…

To all those still suffering from anything Covid related, me and Munchkin are sending socially distance digital hugs.

Thanks for reading,

Categories
Celebrating

Celebrating Largely Small during Lockdown

If you follow me or know me its no surprise I’ve hit the big 3 – 0. While I had always said I didn’t want something big for it I deep down did want to get drunk with my family and my friends on a dancefloor to ‘All of the Lights’. So actually I’d consider that I did want something rather big.

However, its lockdown, so none of that was possible of course. I was, however, fortunate at least that the lockdown had entered a new stage and small groups could congregate outside if they stayed 2 metres apart. But that still didn’t allow my secret dream of a drunken dance party.

So, I was unsure what was going to happen, especially as it was all kept hush. Natalie merely told me that there would be surprises throughout the weekend.

The surprises started Friday (with my birthday being on the Sunday) when a cake arrived. In particular, this was a Millie’s cookie cake which I had recently has a secret lockdown pining for). How did she know?

The surprises and activities then continued with cards handed to me throughout the weekend. We did some cake baking with Munchkin, I had a lovely back massage, we had a film night with prosecco and snacks, I had a fry up and a BBQ, there were lots of Munchkin snuggles and more…

On my actual birthday we went to my Nans. It was pouring on and off so was an ideal location as she had an outdoor car port. We arrived with our mats and toys for Munchkin, and sat on the floor between my family members on either side.

My sister had put together a playlist of my life, they collected a takeaway afternoon tea, we had a good natter and laughed at Munchkin’s booty dance to ‘Who let the dogs out’. Meanwhile we had gin prosecco (this is deadly). The visit was short, but it was perfect. I got to see my closest family, have some laughs, enjoy good food and music and they got to see Munchkin’s latest developments 😊.


I wouldn’t change a thing in the whole weekend, given the circumstances we are under. At least I got to see my family and get spoilt rotten, have an amazing weekend of surprises, get a little tipsy (though admittedly at home with just Natalie), and have a 30th to remember.

So while lockdown is still in force, it is possible to make these hard times pleasant. I can honestly say I had a brilliant birthday. Huge thanks to everyone involved.

Although… I do still want that drunk dance with all my family and friends when its all over.

Thanks for reading,

Categories
Family

Losing a Loved one in Lockdown

I started this blog thinking the hardest thing I would write about would be the hardest parts of parenting like the tantrums and sleepless nights but this is far harder than any of those.

This is exemplified by the fact I have put it off for weeks now. But I think now, the time is right. But the right time for no reason whatsoever.


My Grandad to me was always a trendsetter, a teacher, a father figure, a hero and the life of the party. He got me into new technology, inspired my passion for gaming (both board and computer types) and taught me skills, both practical and life lessons. He loved family, fuelling our gatherings with humour, taught us everything (from LEDs to croquet), inspiring weird and wonderful games such as ‘badminton over the fence’. It’s safe to he inspired me to become the man and Daddy to Munchkin I am today.

We knew his body was slowly shutting down, but by no means thought it was the end. He has dodged death many times before. On 20 March he went into hospital. Being amidst the Covid-19 outbreak, both me and my Sister decided we should not visit, the last thing we would want would be to bring Covid-19 to him (if we were to have it). Sadly, however, he peacefully lost his fight against heart failure the morning of 21 March.

There lies my first regret and the first issue with losing a loved one during a viral outbreak. I am wholeheartedly gutted and I’m am so sorry I couldn’t come to tell him I loved him or say goodbye even if it was the right decision to stay at home at the time.


We did have permission to visit the hospital and say goodbye in the morning. For this I was and still am so thankful that it was just before lockdown. I imagine this is the first hardship of losing someone since lockdown began. I’m so sorry to anyone who can’t.

On the afternoon of the 21st March the family met in the garden of my Nans at a social distance.

On the morning of the 23rd Me and Natalie decided it was time to self isolate. One loss in the family was enough for this outbreak and we needed to protect our Nan. I think this decision broke my Mums heart. Munchkin had helped everyone the day before and wasn’t ready to stop seeing him.

On the afternoon of March 23 the UK entered lockdown.

Lockdown meant the funeral was delayed and added complications and frustrations for my Mum, Auntie and Nan who were making arrangements. When the funeral would go ahead, I would expect to not have my wife or Munchkin as they topped the numbers permitted.


The day of the funeral arrived and only family were permitted at the crematorium as expected. However, when we left my Nans behind the hearse, neighbours and friends lined the streets instead to clap. There are no words to describe what that meant to us.

With only 10.5 of us (as Natalie and Munchkin were allowed to join us when the day came around) the funeral was different to a typical one with these small numbers, but I think the whole family would agree we gave him the best send off we could.

The Effect of the lockdown

Having never lost someone so close, I don’t know how this mourning malarkey should play out, however I’m certain its been delayed by lockdown. Having not done the normal things such as seeing our family, or going out for meals since, we have not been in the situations where we would be together but we wouldn’t have Grandad with us. Add to that the distraction of a full time Munchkin with me on furlough, I don’t think I’ve had the time to process it much at all.

The lockdown produces challenges and frustrations for every aspect of arrangement. From the funeral to sorting pensions and bills…

Thirdly, while she puts on a positive face, I cannot imagine what my Nan is going through. Now living alone but also staying at home and not seeing family. It is the worst.

Final word

Loss sucks, lockdown sucks and the collective crap of both of these is indescribable. For the many people that have lost someone during this madness, my heart goes out to you, as while this has been difficult for me, I’m hugely grateful I got to say goodbye in the hospital and we all got to attend the funeral. I imagine there have been much harder circumstances for thousands of families recently.

Regardless of those who have lost someone to Covid-19 or any other cause during lockdown. We mourn together.


You will have our love always –

Rest in peace Peter Harris Wakefield 1932 – 2020

Categories
Mental health Parent

Avoiding the Lockdown Lows

I recently wrote a post about staying sane with a one year old (you can read that here). I read it back and realised that while that was great for how to stay happy with all the dirty nappies and early mornings, it didn’t really focus on me, the adult.

So here five ways I have avoided the lockdown lows myself.

1. Streaming (what the internet was born for)

Disney plus came into exisitence bang on the right time, coinciding with the start of lockdown, saving us from boredom by letting us catch up on the latest releases we had missed but also reminincing with the golden oldies.

Other streaming services do exist however, so its important to mention while not dreaming about living at DisneyWorld, we’ve also been dying to save the big cats watching ‘Tiger King’, been is utter disbelief with ‘Suriving R Kelly’, and beyond furious with ‘The Trials of Gabriel Fenandez’.

2. Getting out

We have used our daily exercise hour to get some fresh air and vitamin D, whilst also giving Munchkin a change of scenery. This gives some goodness for all three of us.

3. Project house

Being furloughed has been a great kick to get all the house jobs done.

I finally got around to finish filling some holes in the house and kick started the garden ‘renovation’. Me and Natalie have no real garden experience yet we’ve (somehow managed to) put up a fence post and two panels and most recently prepared the soil by hand and laid some turf (we bought our house with a low-maintainence fully-slabbed child-unfriendly garden).

4. Had some ‘me time’

I thought ‘me time’ would come in the form of the xbox one, but then I discovered that you can play board games online. This was a revalation.

So nap times and the odd evening has become virtual board game times with my work crew, university mates and my Mum, Sister and Wife.

For this we have been using boardgamearena (Here’s the link), which for private play, requires one premium member at only £22.80 for the whole year or you can play other players worldwide for free.

5. Appreciation

I think what has really kept me chirpy is spending some time thinking about and appreciating the benefits of lockdown.

Whether that be being a key worker (woo to all of you) and feeling and seeing the value of your continued sacrifice, having reduced work hours (woo!), or working-from-home commitments (so you can do a day’s work in your PJ’s), or for me, spending time seeing the development of my Munchkin.

I hope you are all staying sane and safe in lockdown.

Thanks for reading,

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Categories
Development and discovery Sensory

‘Water’ Way to Light Up Your Day with Sensory Play at Home

With Covid-19 lockdown in full swing, me on furlough and Natalie, a teacher working the majority at home as a key worker, Munchkin is out of nursery and at home full time.

This meant we quickly set about making a routine and including the daily key element of sensory play. Here is a few things we have done in the first weeks. All of these used every day items we already possessed.

Bubble Float, Bubble Pop

Its a known fact that every child loves bubbles, and Munchkin was no different. The look of awe and amazement as he reached for the bubbles around him was worth every second of the clean up operation which followed!

Bottle Shaker Sounds

If there is one thing Munchkin loves, its making a lot of noise. He loves drumsticks and banging everything, his drums and setting off all his musical toys at once, and even using his utensils at meal times for impromptu musical routines.

So this one was simple. Take equal sized bottles and fill with different every day items to illustrate the different sounds they make. We used lentils, stones Munchkin collected from the garden and rice. You could see the interest of the different sounds and the joy of shaking and dropping them.

Splish Splash Water Play

With swimming on hold, it was important to give our Munchkin some time to splash about at home. So we filled the blow up duck he used to have his baths in, gave him some toys and away he went splashing about.

Wibble Wobble Jelly Play

Exactly what it says in the title. Jelly on a plate, wibbly and wobbly, with a few utensils, feeling it, bouncing it and tasting it. Good orange flavoured fun.

Make a Lentil Mess

We put some lentils in a bowl and let him go crazy. From the first unsure touch, to throwing them everywhere, it was a fun explosion of sensory fun.

Disco lights and lightning bolts

We set up a disco ball, a lightning plate, a rope light and a colouring changing stars on the ceiling toy and popped Munchkin in the middle. He loved touching the plate and making the lightning move, grasping onto the disco ball and wafting around the rope light.

Let’s cook

Finally, not fully a sensory exploration, but we gave Munchkin kitchen bits and some balls for a cooking experience. He’s had a saucepan ever since as his eyes immediately lit up and a smile filled his little face. He loved to play peek-a-boo with the colander!

It was easy to create sensory and discovery experiences from items already in our household. Hopefully this gives some inspiration for what you can do with your little ones in this tough time.

Thanks for reading,