As a nation, we are in our fourth week of lockdown. It’s only when taken away from you, that you begin to realise what you have taken for granted. There’s always the obvious. I challenge anyone to not be nostalgic about being able to stroll in to a supermarket and blow twenty quid on frivolous items that don’t quite make a dinner. I defy anyone who says they don’t miss catching up with friends and loved ones face-to-face without trying to mentally judge what equates to two metres. I dispute those who are not craving to pass out of their postcode.
Surprisingly, I feel pretty well adjusted to this life of isolation currently. Much of this is down to what a little angel Harry has been all things considered. As a mum to a tornado of a toddler, I thought it would be far tougher containing him within the boundaries of the bubble we call home. It got me thinking about what he is missing and the impact it will have on him. My conclusion: minimal. Socially, I am confident he will just pick up where he left off with his little buddies but what he’s lost in playground antics, he’s made up for in being swamped in Mummy and Daddy time and cardboard box crafts.
When I think about what I yearn for, it’s the little inconsequential things. Not the big and obvious; the foibles and facets that make up our family life. I decided the best way to compile these was as our alternative A-Z of the things I miss…
ADVENTURES. So often we used to step out the door without a clear plan of where to go or what to do. Our magical mystery tours into the unknown will commence on release!
BUTTERFLIES. I adored my ‘freedom fridays’. That little snippet in my week of selfishness – that oasis of calm. But I miss that tug I used to feel by the end of the day. The butterflies that used to swell as I drove towards nursery, excited to see that precious face bounding towards me and the feel of love as he would throw himself into my outstretched arms. Those butterflies were everything.
CAR NAPS. How can you not crave that frisson of excitement; that ‘will he, won’t he wake’ buzz as you try to lift him from his car seat and in through the front door. I could always rely on a ‘once-round-the-forest-loop in the motor’ to send him off to the land of nod and to be fair it was far more preferable to our current strategy of walking a figure of eight for fifteen minutes on the patio.
DISASTROUS DAYTRIPS. The countless times where tantrums and tears have marred what, in my mind, was going to be the perfect day. I still don’t think I’ve recovered from the aquarium escapade (click here to read the full horror) but my lasting memory is not of the oceanic meltdown but of the hiccupy, warm cuddles as I soothed him to sleep on a freezing bench on the Southbank.
EMMA ADORATION. There’s a whole lot of love reserved for a special woman in Harry’s life. Aunty Emma is idolised by my off-spring – almost to the revered level of Duggee, Bing and those pesky Paw Patrol Pups. Not only is she the finest stylist this side of the equator, she is a non-stop pocket rocket of fabulousness. A FaceTime sesh is not the same as in-the-flesh fun-times. Although he does like to show off all his fanciest dance moves when we do catch her online. I miss his puppy-dog eyes and dirty little laugh when Emma is around.
FERAL BEHAVIOUR WITH FRIENDS. You’ll know when Harry and Spencer are together. You will hear the screams. Not of pain. Not of fear. Of fun. It’s fun to scream right? And run around like lunatics? And shout at everything? Good luck nursery when you get these two back together. And… screeeeeeaaaaaam!
GIFT SHOPS. I’d say 78% of the places we patronise in our freedom have an attached debt accumulator. Yes – a gift shop. Obliterating parent’s purses since the dawn of time. I almost miss the negotiations necessary to get out of there without nuclear meltdown. ‘No – you can’t have the £25 limited edition cuddly owl but I will settle for the £3.99 piece of plastic tat to add to our ever-growing tat collection.‘ If you’re savvy you can lure them out of there with promise of a snack but I recommend not taking a well-fed toddler in without a bank loan or selling a kidney.
HAIRCUTS. We’d just managed to get over the fear of the barber chair. It’d taken a chanted mantra for the entire walk to the hairdressers to persuade little man the scissors were safe and trimmers were for the cool kids. Thank goodness we went short on his last cut! As Harry slowly begins to resemble Cousin It from The Adams Family, I am beginning to contemplate a Youtube tutorial on how to sedate and trim a toddler’s hair. Joking about the sedation. But seriously – I can’t just let it keep growing! I’d take barber battles over Chewbacca any day! The 25mm clipper attachment is on order though – watch this space…
INAPPROPRIATE TOUCHING. Children should be inquisitive. Children should feel comfortable around adults. Children should not however grab boobs. I miss him being exploratory in the big wide world but maybe not having to apologise for a cheeky tweak to my friend. You weren’t even breast-fed child!
JUSTIFICATION. You should never negotiate with terrorists – particularly mini ones (I quote the great Rose McCarter-Field). However I miss the debates necessary when you are trying to exit soft play, starting with the rational reasons and resorting quickly to bribery. ‘I’ll give you all the crisps at home, now just get your shoes on and let’s get in the car!’ Justification is frankly futile but it was fun to try.
KIDSPACE. We have an annual membership. We have sold our soul to soft-play. But even I miss the unnatural, contortionist positions you have to get yourself in to. All of this is done at speed to keep up with Little Usain Bolt, ensuring his safety as he catapults himself across a rope bridge and down the tube slide designed for 4+. To be fair, it was the best workout I’d have all week.
LIBRARY. An oasis of calm. A wonderland of words. Until we rock up. I’d only have to do a book drop but I’d end up furiously stage-shushing my spawn as he would sprint down the aisles, filled with mirth and mischief. Usually I’d be scanning books with the Wrigglet under my arm wailing at the injustice of not playing chase and wanting ‘allllll the booooooks.’ Such precious moments!
MANNEQUINS. Shopping is found on my CV under ‘interests’. I think it’s a healthy pastime. All that maths calculating 20% off. All that exercise helping me achieve 10,000 steps on my fitbit. Those higher order thinking skills as you reason and debate with hubby as to why the purchase of another 15 tops from Primark was a necessary buy. Harry is not so much a fan but it was always fun to watch him in Zara as Mummy shopped and Daddy tried in vain to control him. Zara have their mannequins up close and personal, but also accessible to little people. When not trying to climb onto their plinth, my inquisitive toddler could be found looking up their skirts. A healthy interest in anatomy?
NOURISHMENT. Eating out with a toddler is always Russian Roulette. First you have to barter them down from an ice-lolly to something resembling their 5-a-day. Then you have to shell out for the juice – it’s organic so add on another £1.50 (I’d have settled for squash). You then present them with their lunch for them to refuse even a mouthful so rather than waste the money spent you end up hoovering up your lunch, their lunch and buying them a raspberry muffin which they cheerfully inhale. I miss someone else prepping the food they leave and I eat.
OBJECTING TO THE BUGGY. The buggy is currently used solely for the purpose of walking the patio in a figure of eight for five-ten minutes until he drops off. How I almost miss those days when we were out in public places and he decided the buggy was not the mode of transport he desired. The classic ‘back-arch, slide-down’ evasion moves were something worthy of Cirque Du Soleil. I would’ve scored his gymnastic moves ten but his dismount was a little sloppy.
PUB NIGHT. Thursday nights were ‘eat at the pub night‘. Admittedly, the bag of distractions was getting larger each week. Last visit we had Duggee’s clubhouse (with squirrels) duplo trains, selection of Thomas memorabilia and the iPad – but we made it through a burger, glass of wine and sausage and beans for the little man, unscathed. Having to now cook and prep food for three people, three times a day, every day – this is a gaping void in my life!
QUIET TIME. Once a week. Drop off the hurricane at nursery. Forbid the husband to work from home. Go for a run and then home to… complete silence. No one. Nothing. No demands. No niggles. Just luscious lone time. I crave this.
ROUNDABOUT INCIDENTS. We love our local playground. It’s been done up by fabulous fundraisers in the local community. But there’s a not a week goes by that Harry isn’t thrown from the roundabout or nearly hospitalised in one way or another. I could’ve paid off the mortgage sending in videos to “You’ve Been Framed” of him running in to the forehead height bar in the middle. The reverberating thwack still makes me wince. But he’s a trooper – each and every time he’s picked himself up and brushed himself down.
SHOPPING CENTRE RIDES. Why do they do it? Why do they place some kind of sports car or cheeky character outside of every necessary facility in a shopping centre. The times I’ve nearly burst my bladder trying to avoid the toilets for fear that he will spot the giant Bing Bunny £2-a-go ride situated outside. A puddle is preferable to the tantrum that will ensue when you try to extract him from the fun-mobile. And funnily enough they are always out-of-order when he asks for a go. Strange that…
TUBE JOURNEYS. I miss his absolute delight at every time we got on the tube. “Train.” Yep my lovely. We are on a train. “Train!” Yep, that’s a train going the other way. “Train!” Yep – that’s another train going the other way. “Station.” Yep, we’re stopping at a station. And another 14 till we reach our destination. And you will see another 54 trains going the other way. So shall we stop announcing each and every one before one of these commuters lynches us? And can you stop ramming your fingers in the ventilation grills – you’re likely to pick up the next big virus. Such fun!
UNDERESTIMATION. Never underestimate the power of being trapped in a queue with a toddler. You are captive. You cannot unleash them for fear of having to chase them and losing your place in the aforementioned queue. Whilst they remained tethered to their buggy, you will need to pull out all the stops. I almost miss the creativity necessary to survive the Post Office queue. Tickling. Singing. Counting everything in sight. Snacks. And then bribery – he’s never exited the Post Office without a new Thomas train – why do they put them so close to the queue rail? Oh… Gits!
VALERIE. Not the Winehouse number… the Patisserie version. Every weekend. It was our family tradition. I say was – they’d just been bailed out towards the end of last year so the chances of them surviving this pandemic are slim – unlike me after their cakes. I would like to take a quiet moment of reflection to thank them for their mille feuille. Harry had to have what Daddy has and I know he will sorely miss the sugar rush from his weekly slice of Black Forest Gateaux. Special times. Precious family moments. If there is a God, support them through these troublesome times so we can enjoy a flat white and chocolate carnage once again.
WOOLY HATS. We went in to this in what felt like the depths of winter. We will come out the other side, tanned and fabulous, in shorts and t-shirts. I love to accessorise and lord knows I love a double-bobble. I felt quite nostalgic packing them away for spring-summer.
XTREME-STUBBORNESS. I come up with all these ideas. I take him to places he’ll, in my mind, love. But let’s face it, mine is not the mind of a Duggee-doting two year old. If he doesn’t want to do something – he won’t. It makes me smile to recall the times he’s just walked off in what he believes is the direction of home muttering “enough now.” Stubbornness – now where did he get that trait…
YAWN. Never have you seen a woman walk so fast as when her child is ready for a nap and she’s not quite home. I miss the gamble of going out in the morning and risking losing that precious time to have a cuppa and catch up on some trash TV while he snoozes. There’s no fear of being to far from home currently.
ZERO-IN. You know that scene in Terminator – when you see through the T-800 zooms in on Sarah Connor. That’s much the same as a toddler and any ice-cream/train toy/CBeebies magazine… basically anything that requires mumma to get her purse out. I swear if I looked under his hairline I’d see a CyberDyne stamp. I miss his ability to search out and destroy my bank balance as I attempt save the world from an earth-shattering tantie. John Connor – you’ve got nothing on my strategic warfare.
Simple things, special to us – but things that I reflect on that make me smile, wince and weep all in one! I’ve no doubt that give it a year and I’ll be longing for the simplicity of lockdown life. I think there’s a lot we can take from it though. I can’t believe how much fun we’ve had within the walls of our own home. For the mum who always declared “I go stir-crazy if I stay in,” I am surprised at my surplus of sanity.
What are the little things you miss that are special to your family? Will you change your habits and haunts as a result of this and how you use your time?
Thanks for bearing with me. Writing in lockdown has proved somewhat of a challenge! I’ll try to keep it a little more regular but do feel free to give me a follow on facebook or instagram where I’m more prolific!