Lockdown Week 1

Wednesday 1 April 2020

It's been such a long time since I last posted that I'm not even going to begin to try and catch up with all the things I haven't blogged about since then!

As I've said so often, the main reason I keep my blog is so that I can look back and remember what life was like when the boys were growing up. Lately I've been doing more 'micro blogging' and keeping my record of our daily lives (and my bakes and crafting) over on my Instagram account, which is much quicker than finding time to sit down and write out a blog post.

But I do miss writing and sharing on here, and the fact that I can write more here. At such a unique time in history as this it seemed like a perfect time to get me kick started into writing proper blog posts again!

As a super quick update the ages of the boys are now: James 20, Calum 17, David 14, Ally 10 and Fraser 6. In January James started working for a media company who work for BBC Alba in Stornoway and so moved up to live with my parents. We miss him around here a lot, but he is so good at video calling to keep in touch and will call us most nights to chat to his brothers. The other boys are at the following stages of school: Calum S6, David S3, Ally P6 and Fraser P1.

I'm counting the first week of official Covid-19 Lockdown as being from Sunday 22nd - Saturday 28th March. Actually I had stopped sending the younger boys to school half way through the week before that, when the government recommended that people, particularly those who were classed as vulnerable, use public transport as little as possible. Given that Ally's asthma seems to flare up at the littlest thing anyway, and that our journey to school consists of a train journey followed by a bus journey, and then the same in reverse to get home again, I took the decision that I had to limit his (and our) exposure to public transport and the germ cities that they are at the best of times!

Calum, however, insisted that he still went into school for that last week as it looked increasingly likely that his would be his last week of school ever. He was very conscientious about washing his hands though, and would even put his clothes from that day straight into the wash and go for a shower as soon as he came home from school. His last day of school was on Friday 19th March and we have since found out that all of the SQA exams are cancelled so he doesn't have much work to do now either, although he still has to finish his composition for Advanced Higher Music. 

He had planned to take a year out before going to University in 2021, which is still his plan. He has two unconditional offers, although one of them is subject to an audition. I'll be roping him in to help with the younger boys' schooling some more so that he doesn't spend these weeks on Netflix and the Xbox!

So our official lockdown started off with Mother's Day. I got some lovely hand drawn cards, pictured are Ally's, Fraser's and James'. James also thought that I would like to try a new craft while we are confined to our houses and so bought me the cute needle felting kit.

We always have waffles and pancakes these days for Sunday breakfast. Fraser prefers waffles and Calum prefers pancakes and so we have both. Fraser got so tired of waiting for the teenagers to get out of bed and start making the breakfast that he and Ally started weighing out the ingredients themselves! When Calum heard that they had started without him he soon made his way downstairs to help though!

With their dad's assistance they all made a roast chicken dinner for Sunday lunch.

And David made Nigella's Quick Chocolate Mousse, which is one of my favourite puddings.

I was well looked after by this little waiter who kept coming to ask me if there was anything else I needed.

All in all it was a lovely Mother's Day. James had hoped to be able to come down and spend the weekend with us but with the restrictions changing daily because of Covid-19 we all decided he was better off staying in Stornoway. At that time there were no cases in the Outer Hebrides either and we didn't want to risk him being a carrier when he went back.

Our first official week of home schooling went very well. We followed the topics sent home from the school as well as adding in some of our own things. I'm well aware that Ally and Fraser have totally different learning styles and so have been adapting things to suit them.

On the last day of school the boys' cousin fell at nursery and broke her wrist so one of the first pieces of work Ally and Fraser did was to make her cards, which we had to pop in the post since we won't be able to see them until all of this is over.

On the Tuesday it was my husband Andy's birthday. Since James wasn't able to be with us we video called him just before we sang Happy Birthday so that he could join in. Calum held his phone up when we took the traditional birthday group photo so that James could still be in that too!

We're trying to make this a fun and happy time for the boys, rather than an anxious and scary time. The threat of the virus is very real, and we wanted them to know of all the suitable precautions, and yet we didn't want them to be overwhelmed by it. Rather we are looking at this as a positive time for our family and always looking for the positives in each day and week rather than the negative. 

What better century to be confined to our houses than this one? The boys have loved not having to get up as early as usual for school, but they have also missed their friends. The older boys obviously have their phones and social media as a way to keep in touch with their friends but we've also made sure that Ally and Fraser both had time to video chat with their close friends too. Watching Fraser chat to his two best friends (who are identical twins that he still can't tell apart!) is very cute!

We have been fortunate to have managed to get slots for our groceries to be delivered online so far. Because I always do our weekly shop online I have always booked a few weeks ahead and have deliveries booked up to the 9th April. The supermarkets are rightly prioritising elderly and at risk customers first for delivery slots, but as I pay for a delivery saver pass that means that we get the next priority after them. So fingers crossed we can still get our things delivered as the lockdown continues.

Of course, just because something has been ordered doesn't mean that it will arrive in the shopping! I've never seen such a long list of 'sorry we didn't have's on my printout as I had the week before the lockdown officially started!

As well as that, there are now restrictions on how many of each item you can buy. I totally understand why this has been done, but it does make things a little harder for larger families like ours. I have managed to get around it for some things, like for example soya milk. Three cartons of soya milk won't last more than three days in our house with so many of us being dairy free, but I found that if I buy more than one different brand then I can get more than three. It does cost more though, as the reason I buy the own brand soya milk is because the branded stuff is twice the price!

Still, we have been managing to still get treats. Ally and Fraser enjoy their 'Butterbeer' for a quick midweek treat after dinner - dairy free ice cream covered in cream soda.

If we focus on our official school work in the mornings then it means we can be free to play for most of the afternoon, which is a delight for Ally and Fraser. I'm thankful that since the lockdown started there has been a vast improvement in the weather. The first two and a bit months of 2020 have been non stop wind and rain. The last two weeks have been dry almost every day.

Every afternoon you can find Ally and Fraser down at the bottom part of the garden, lost in their own world of adventure.

Sometimes they even persuade me to bring them some hot chocolate too!

I do feel for people who live alone during these times. Lockdown has been enjoyable for us so far because we have our health and we have each other. There is always someone to help out with something, or to play with, and in our busy lives it has been amazing to slow down and spend all day every day with each other.

My husband, Andy, is a manager for Safe Families for Children, a charity who help families in crisis. He has been working 10/12 hour days from home since the lockdown started, as his team find ways to help our society's most vulnerable families and children at a time when all other means of support has been stopped. Because of the work that he does I am very aware of how blessed we are, and how difficult these days are for so many.