There was so much that I planned to do today. None of it happened. I’ve literally only been able to tick one thing off my to do list and that was just the recurring one to tell me to do a load of laundry so no one runs out of clean underwear!
I’ve spent over three hours of today in the car, but then again that can be quite typical for me. My kids’ school is 30 minutes away (that’s what happens when you get divorced and can’t afford to stay living in the same place) so the morning and afternoon school runs make up two hours of that.
The extra trip was because my son’s school was short of staff and being a governor there means that I have a DBS clearance, so was able to stand in for one of the MSAs (Midday Supervisory Assistants – or “dinner ladies” in old terminology!) that are currently at home either self-isolating or social-distancing. There were three governors in the lunch hall and on the playground today. Tomorrow we’re expecting four or five of us helping out. I got the outdoor duty and actually I rather enjoyed being forced to spend an hour outside with the drizzly rain hitting my face. I suppose this whole scenario makes you focus a bit on what things in life you don’t really appreciate until you realise that they might be taken away from you.
When I wasn’t at school or driving between school and home I managed to fit in a quick supermarket trip looking for nappies. We’re struggling to find any size 5 one for our daughter. Everywhere is sold out. We’ve even got neighbours on our new WhatsApp group looking for us. These are neighbours whose names I didn’t even know a week ago and now they’re trying to help us buy nappies. This is all so weird.
One thing I’m glad I’ve done is make that contact with all our neighbours. I used a template I found online to put notes through all their doors. It felt a strange thing to do and I was a bit nervous that no one would respond, but we’ve now got about 10 of us on WhatsApp and I’ve spoken to four others on the telephone (notably they all called me from a landline!) that are very grateful of the contact. Two of them live alone and don’t know how they are going to get food if they can’t go out to the shops. One of them is also registered disabled ad said he has no support. I feel awful thinking that they could have had no one to help them. It’s also nice thinking that we have a bit of back up should we need it at any point over the next few months. That’s a bit of a relief.
My trip to the supermarket didn’t bring any nappies. Nor did I find much else. No milk. No fresh meat. No biscuits. So much for limiting what people buy so everyone can buy something. This was just at 2pm. What about people who are at work all day and can only get there in the evening?
Today has not all been doom and gloom though. I’ve had some lovely chats with neighbours, my knitting group, fellow school governors and other friends online. Even some old work colleagues that I hadn’t spoken to in years. Funny what a situation like this makes people do.
One of my dear knitting group has also been incredibly generous by giving my kids an xbox 360 that her family no longer needed. They’d ordered a new Playstation 4 to help them through the isolation period so she kindly offered their old console to my kids. Complete with a pile of games and various other controllers, guitars and even a drum kit! It was like Christmas had come early. My husband went over to pick it up and is connecting it up to our TV as I type.
I had planned to make a start on preparation for our period of home education today, but that’s one of the tasks that fell off the end of my to do list. My son’s school have published various blog posts about how parents can support their children’s learning at home and there are links a plenty for online resources. My daughter’s school has also sent home various suggestions and I’m expecting some workbooks to be coming home with her tomorrow. More work is to be published online over the coming weeks. I’ve got some ideas in my head already for things I can do with them both, but I need to actually write some of them down before I forget. There are also so many links that have been shared with me, but again I need the time to sort through them all and work out which are most worth doing and when to deploy them on the kids.
The thing about school closing that has hit me hardest is possibly the realisation that tomorrow is probably my son’s last ever day at his Infant School. I’m just mentally not ready. I get a lump in my throat just typing those words. It’s mot supposed to happen so soon. He’s supposed to have another term and a bit before I’m attending a leavers’ assembly and all that sort of thing. Now none of it may happen. I don’t think he’s fully realised yet, but I certainly have. And I don’t like the feeling at all.
I totally understand the move to shut schools. And the one to keep them open for vulnerable children and those whose parents are key workers. But the lack of information about it all, and the practicalities of everyone (teachers, head teachers, parents and the public in general) finding out at the same time means there are so many questions that haven’t been answered yet. Over 24 hours on from the announcement and they haven’t even managed to publish a list of what the definition of a key worker is. How on earth are schools supposed to be ready to open on Monday when they don’t even know which children to expect through the gate? Let alone how many.
The final bit of today that made me smile was when we got home from the school run I realised I needed to pop to the post box with something. The kids asked if they could bring their scooters and amazingly once we got to the post box they asked if we could turn it into a scoot around the local streets. They had a blast wizzing down hills and chasing each other. Simple pleasures, but ones which I fear they may have to miss out on for a while. Seeing how much they enjoyed it though made me resolve to get out every single day that we can. Even just scooting around local streets shouldn’t be taken for granted any more.
It’s been such a busy day that I haven’t seen as much of the news as I have on previous days. Maybe that’s a good thing. The bits I have caught have only made me realise just how big and bad everything is. The Bank of England have cut interest rates yet again. Down to just 0.1%. If that’s not a sign of the effect on the economy then I don’t know what is. If our high streets weren’t struggling enough before this, things are even worse now. The impact on so many other industries is also huge. Entertainment, hospitality, travel. The supermarkets are doing OK with everyone panic buying. I’ve seen three of them advertising for new staff in the last 24 hours. Good news, but not enough to make up for all the losses that I keep hearing about. Everything is going to look so different when this is all over.
For now though I need to go and distract myself with something before bed. We’ve spotted that every series of Spooks seems to have suddenly appeared on iPlayer. Time to go and focus on imaginary terrorists and MI5 rather than the real life drama happening all around us.