This is what early lockdown looked like for us (picture shared with permission).
My older children only saw their father through the living room window for the first two months of lockdown. He visited them despite not being able to come in, brought them gifts to cheer them up and on one occasion ordered a takeaway for us all.
The kids and I ate at the dinner table and he had his outside the house, so that we could have ‘dinner together’ via video call. He’s been present, consistent and shown up and loved our boys, while staying within the boundaries of lockdown rules.
Every family has had to make their own decisions about how to move children between homes at this time. I’ve supported many mums to figure out the family law guidelines and apply them to their own formal or informal arrangements.
Every parent I have spoken to has wanted to keep their children and loved ones safe. Every parent has wanted to see their child. Not every parent has been able to achieve that during lockdown, I know it has been brutally hard on some.
We came to our own decision because the older boys Dad is a frontline NHS worker, which made seeing each other high risk when we were sick. We got sick just before lockdown, when information was sparse and testing non-existent. Like so many others, we were making the best decisions we could day to day, hoping we got it as right as we could.
Did we get it right? I don't know.
All I can say today is that these lockdown months have been a pea-souper of stress and worry for us to wade through. As a family we did the very best we could to keep everyone safe, everyone cared for and everyone connected. Perhaps we could have done things differently, or better.
If you’re looking back and thinking the same thing, give yourselves grace.
None of us know how to parent in a pandemic, let alone parent across multiple households. None of us knew then or know now what the right thing is or was to do.
We are in the same storm, but sailing very different ships, I’ve heard say. That’s a truism I can get behind.
I can say with absolute certainty that my kids Dads and I are loving parents. I can also say with confidence that we did what we were asked to do, what many other families have had to do, and it has impacted us all emotionally, physically and spiritually on many levels.
It’s hard to describe how it felt, and still feels right now.
Lockdown may be easing soon, but the worry is not. Childcare for some parents will be opening back up, for me it is not yet. Some furloughed workers are being asked to go back to work, without the networks they need to be able to do so. Others continue to work from home as best we can, adapting, learning, sometimes failing then trying again.
The storm continues to lash at our windows - many still must batten down the hatches and simply try to hold course a while longer.
If you are feeling battered by the hard choices you have had to make, you’re not alone.
If your co-parenting relationship has been strengthened by this, I applaud you, sometimes a crisis brings people together and that’s to be celebrated if it has happened for you.
If however, that fragile relationship has been placed under unimaginable stress by the pandemic, I see you. A lot of families will be picking gently through the wreckage of lost trust, deep hurts and missed connections right now. If you don’t know the story of another family as they make plans to come out of lockdown please, be kind.
Their story is not your story.
My story is not yours either, but I am here and willing to listen if you want to share yours with me. Reach out, share, talk about it. Your story matters, you matter.
It has been a frightening, emotionally raw and fragile time.
It’s not over yet, but here in this place of uncertainty, there is still grace, hope and love.
Go gently, and remember you are a human being who is living through extraordinary times. Your presence is enough, your courage may falter and you undoubtedly need more sleep and exercise and TLC than you have been getting so far.
Rest. Smile. Breathe.
Another week of crazy is done.
Let’s welcome the next.
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