Isn’t it crazy how suddenly everything you are used to, your routine, lifestyle, is all thrown out of the window in the space of a few days. When the dreaded C word, which seems to be taking over everyone’s lives, was announced, all sorts of questions arose.
Would we even be able to see Lily? Would she need to stay are her mums while we worked or vice versa? Would we continue the 50/50 routine which we had all gotten used to over the last four years?
I remember sitting in my office at work and imagining how it would all be – just for a couple of weeks I had assumed. Oh, how wrong I was! Now more than eight weeks into lockdown and I think I am finally coming to terms with the fact this isn’t a short term thing.
This is the ‘new norm’.
Reading so many stories from other step families, I know I have been lucky, we all have. None of us are ill, our families and friends are safe, and we are still able to see Lily just as much as we did before, maybe more, despite a change to our home pattern.
I do feel for those families who haven’t been able to see their step children though – my heart really goes out to them! Looking on groups there are so many families who haven’t seen their children/step-children in weeks, if not months. Thank goodness for technology and being able to keep in touch!
The biggest change for us is when we are having Lily. We have moved from our usual Monday-Wednesday and alternate weekends, to five days on, five days off, and suddenly it feels like the Christmas holidays, I’m unsure what day it is and when my alarm for the school run will be waking me up again.
We decided that five days on five days off was the safest way around this virus, without Lily missing either of her homes too much – although pretty sure it’s our dog she misses more than anything!
And then there’s the homeschooling! I thought I was quite an intelligent person, I had good grades at school, maths and English were my best subjects… and then I tried working out questions in the Collins books for 7-9 year olds! It’s difficult to teach a child when you’re sat scratching your head yourself.
There have been positives though. I overheard someone today on Chris’s work Zoom call say ‘We are cherishing this time. It is quality time we will never get back again’ – and it really stuck with me. How true it is.
I have never spent so much time with Chris and Lily. Seeing Chris solidly for more than eight weeks has actually been incredible. There have been tough times, which come with spending every living second with a person, to the point that if they crunch their food one more time I may explode, but I have still enjoyed every minute.
The person I think this has been hardest for is Lily. Chris and I spend our weekdays still working full time, on calls to friends, the odd gin over FaceTime with the girls (that’s me, Chris plays games and wears a hat the wrong way round – trying to hide from the fact he is 30 in a few months.)
But what about Lily? Yes she can video chat with her friends, she can shout over the fence to our next door neighbour’s little boy. But some of my best childhood memories are playing with friends, visiting grandparents, sleepovers, all the things that are almost impossible to replicate for a child who has suddenly been torn away from that life.
And we are trying to do things with her, as I type she is helping her dad build a tent in the garden for an overnight camp out (while I am snuggled in my warm bed making the most of lying like a star fish). But how do you compensate for months of childhood memories she won’t be able to get back anytime soon?
By making more.
I am a massive advocate of this. It’s something I push. I grew up with parents who worked a lot, to the point that the only full day off they really had was Christmas, but do I remember the times where they were working and I had to occupy myself? (note – I wasn’t left as a child, my parents owned a market garden so worked from home)
I remember the trips out as a family. The days my parents gave up their afternoon to spend time with me and my little brother. The family board games (and arguments over who won).
Now is the time to make amazing moments with your children/step-children! Because that’s what they’ll remember from this.
Coronavirus 2020 … the year of quality time, making memories and smiling through the hard times.