Life Lately - September 2020


Back to school 

The kids have been back to school for a few weeks now - Jack in Year 5, Heidi Year 7 and Harry Year 9. I didn't think the kids had really missed school that much but now that they are back and with their friends / kids their own age again, it has made the world of difference. They are no longer in each others pockets so the fighting has dramatically reduced and it is so lovely that they have their own little personality and lives back again rather than us all being one unit. I now have a huge appreciation of how important school is for my three (I know all kids are different) and really hope we never have to return to home learning again. I think I am unrealistic in this dream though. 

Heidi started a whole new school and has really taken it in her stride - she has made new friends really easily, more so than Harry did and I am super proud of her. 

Some of the new protocols have taken a bit of getting used to - for example H & H have to wear their PE kit to school on PE days. This resulted in Harry returning home to change 10 minutes after leaving the house one day as he realised he had PE. 

This year is the first year I have not had to do the school run after 12 long years. It has been wonderful and I do not miss it at all. I seem to have so much more time and love not having to rush around. 

Breaking the law if we see our parents 

The Rule Of Six was announced last week. This new law states that people can only meet up in groups of 6, both indoors and outdoors (with a few exemptions). I do understand why this rule was brought in - Police have complained it has been tough for them to disperse groups and the rule of six is easy to understand. Coronavirus is increasing again and we do need to get a handle on it. 

However, as a family of 5, this means we cannot all meet up with our parents. How ridiculous is it that I need to sit in the car when Steve takes the kids in to see his parents and vice versa. Even gardens are banned when previously, we have been told that sitting 2m+ apart outdoors is a low risk activity. It makes no logical sense to me as if Steve has COVID 19, I will also have COVID 19 so what is the point? 

At the same time, restrictions have eased in indoor settings ( 6 people can meet indoors from up to 6 households now where as previously, only 2 households could meet indoors). Now I don't know about you, but I have yet to visit a pub/restaurant where everyone in a group sits 2m apart. How is it ok to meet up with 5 other households, indoors and less than 2m apart but not ok for two households to mix, more than 2m apart in a garden? It is just illogical and I really think the Gov has it wrong on this one. 

I do worry about Christmas and will be seething if families of four can see their parents but families of 5+ cannot. Talk about discrimination! It just isn't fair. 

Last DIY project of the year 

We have almost finished our last DIY project of the year - the boys bedroom. Harry and Jack share a room and have had bunk beds since Jack was 2. Now they are a bit older, we have switched to two single beds which suits them much better. 

We are short of space so I have went with Divan beds with underbed storage. Their room should be finished next week - I will share some photos then and might share a blog with tips I have picked up for siblings who share a room too. 

A trip to A&E  

We had an unexpected trip to A&E last week. Heidi fell off her bike and ended up with a very wonky finger she couldn't move. I was frustrated with the NHS at the time, as the process for seeing someone out of hours seemed very long-winded, un-necessary and was not the best use of NHS resources. For a possible broken finger, Heidi ended up going through two telephone assessments with two different doctors via 111, was physically assessed by an out of hours doctor at Wansbeck Hospital, was triaged by a Nurse Practitioner at A&E, had an X-Ray at A&E, was treated by a nurse in A&E and then followed up with an appointment with a Consultant in his clinic at Cramlington Hospital. 

I am super grateful Heidi was seen and treated by so many experts but I was exasperated by the hoops we had to jump through (mainly due to 111). She is ok now - it is not broken. 

BTW, when we were in A&E, someone walked in with a high temp and cough saying this was a last resort. Please don't do this! The admissions nurse was not happy. 

Harry turns 14 

I cannot believe Harry turned 14 this week. Where does the time go? It was a low key affair - we visited Fat Hippo for his favourite burger and mostly stayed at home watching back-to-back Star Wars. 

Harry is into Batman at the minute so asked the original 1960s Batman series on DVD, I used to watch this in the 80s so I am looking forward to the trip down memory lane. He is saving for a VR headset and has over £300 so far (after a year of saving) so I hope he manages to buy one soon. 

Catching up with friends 

Before local lockdown came in, I wanted to make the effort to catch up with friends as who knows when we might see each other again. It was lovely spending the week having socially distanced coffees at my house and really made me grateful for what lovely friends I have. I couldn't catch up with everyone which makes me sad. It is tough not knowing when you can next meet up. 

Starting Christmas shopping early 

I have started my Christmas shopping early this year. My income is not stable and who knows if I will earn anything in November and December with everything that is going on. I normally earn a fair bit advertising Christmas and Halloween events so I am already expecting a reduced income as most are not going ahead. 

I have made a list of gifts and each time an invoice is paid, I have ticked something from the list. I have made a good start so far and it has taken the pressure off. I am trying hard to shop local where I can this year and will be writing a post this week or next featuring local businesses you can buy from online. 

We are now in local lockdown 

Cases of COVID 19 in the NE are reaching a worrying level now and something does need to be done. Personally, I think the issue lies in testing and tracing. If we had tests that were back within a few hours and a proper contact tracing system that worked, we would mostly be able to get on with life with social distancing / face coverings / hand hygiene. However, this is just not going to happen. Trying to get tested in the NE is a joke, track and trace is failing (contacting someone 6 days after someone they had contact with test positive feels like too long - I know someone this has happened to) and I fear there is going to be so much disruption in the coming months. Mostly due to a testing / tracing system which is not up to scratch but also, because the public is just not willing to comply. 

I do not blame the public - we have had so many mixed messages. A few weeks ago, it was our civic duty to eat out to help out, now we are being blamed for socialising too much. We were told COVID19 does not spread in schools and that schools are secure, yet all of our local schools have had cases and it has only been a few weeks and finally (and the most annoying for me), the Gov has been encouraging those who can easily work from home to get back to the office. Whhhhhhyyyy? 

The local lockdown rules are beyond ridiculous to me and I honestly think some of them will do more harm than good. Closing the pubs at 10pm is only going to lead to more house parties behind closed doors. I am pretty sure an after-hours drunked house party is a place COVID19 will love to spread. 

Most of the local pubs round here have said they will still accept tables with mixed households as this is just guidance rather than law. I get where they are coming from - they need bums on seats and to get cash in the till after an extremely tough year but like I said above, groups do not social distance and sit 2m apart from each other around a table so this new Government rule is just pointless. 

Heidi is such a sociable child and has gone through a lot of change this year. The new guidance states she can sit next to her friend all day in class, play football with her friend in PE and sit next to her for lunch. There is no social distancing in schools by the way. Yet she cannot walk home with this same friend or go out skateboarding together after school? I think the Gov have it completely wrong again here. If two children are already in a bubble together, sit right next to each other in an enclosed indoor space and spend a full day together indoors, why can they not walk home together and go to the skate park together?

Again, outdoor exercise is allowed if you are part of an orgainised team and pay for it and we have been told that outdoor transmission is super low. I am therefore letting Heidi still play out for an hour or so after school with the children she spends all day with. There is no increased risk at doing this and I really feel it is important for Heidi's wellbeing.  We have rules - no going in someone's house or garden, keep within your year group bubble and in a group less than 6 (so we keep within the law). Every child is different - Harry and Jack are not bothered about going out with their friends so it is less of an issue for them. But a couple of hours skateboarding with one friend who Heidi sits next to in class is definitely fine by me for the time being (my feelings on this might change over time). 

Another stupid rule is that informal childcare is not allowed now. When businesses are open and key workers are unable to go to work, this is a ridiculous idea. First of all, who can find paid childcare at such short notice, often for unsociable hours. Parents do not just want to leave their kids with anyone either - you do not just leave your child with the first childminder you meet and there is a settling in process too. Suddenly, if the whole region needs childcare, there is not going to be enough to go around. 

Who is going to pay for this? Money is tight for many and childcare cannot suddenly be added to a family budget. Even Boris has said he will struggle to pay a nanny (eye roll). 

Finally, what is the logic behind this? Childminders and after school clubs may have COVID policies in place but I can guarantee, children in their care will not be socially distancing as it is impossible. How is it safer for a child to mix with children from up to 30 other households in a paid-for childcare setting than it is to mix with no other children (or their siblings) at grannies house. Not all grandparents are vulnerable and the rule applies to other family members / friends who have reciprocal arrangements in place too. Is it just because there is money involved? A clear case of economy above safety and common sense. 

Friends and relatives usually offer free childcare out of love and will go out of their way to keep the children in their care as safe as possible. 

Looking at all the rules and logistics, it feels like the Gov does not actually care about us at all. They just seem like they are looking like they are doing something without actually doing anything. I pray that testing and track and trace improves soon - it is the only way we can get out of this never-ending cycle. 

Oh and Counsellors / the Government try to tell us that this is not lockdown and if we do no abide, more severe measures will come into play. For myself (and many), not being able to see friends and family is the most severe measure of all. When it comes down to it, I do not mind if I cannot go to a restaurant or pub (as much as I like to support them) and if we go back to only being allowed out for exercise, for me, the most important thing in life is being able to see and support friends and family (even if it is at 2m apart and in a garden). Being denied this is the worst and for many, is lockdown.  

Trying to make the most out of autumn 

It is hard not to feel negative and down in the dumps with everything that is going on. It is disappointment after disappointment at the moment and I fear it will get worse. I really am going to try and embrace Autumn. I am going to work hard on my blog and have loads of ideas for posts, I have sime nice autumn walks planned and I am planning on making the kids Halloween hampers this year for half term featuring things we can use for Halloween at home - I will share them soon. We really need to try and cling onto the positives where we can. 

Snitching on our neighbours 

Priti Patel is a piece of work isn't she! Yes, I would maybe phone the police if there was a crazy rave going on in my street or someone was acting un-safely but snitching on my neighbours if their kids pop into their garden for a cuppa? No chance. Community is really important and we relied on each other during proper lockdown - our neighbours were the only people we had contact with and we all looked out for each other. If they need to see their kids/family, who am I to deny them that. If it is ok for Dominic Cummings - it is ok for us.  

Personal responsibility 

It is easy to blame the Government for their failings and I do blame them for their gross incompetence & mixed messages but we also need to take personal responsibility and pull together too. The main reason we need to stop the virus from spreading and growing out of control is to keep the vulnerable members of society safe and protected. We all need to do our bit and if you don't , then I am sorry but you are acting selfishly.  We are doing this to stop the NHS from becoming overwhelmed and to keep deaths as low as possible - if the NHS does start becoming overwhelmed due to too many COVID19 cases, it is always the vulnerable in our society who will suffer first. 

I think like many people, I am using my own common sense when it comes to the rules now and doing what I can to keep my own family & vulnerable members of society as safe as possible but also balancing this with the fact that we do need some kind of normality and to try and still enjoy / live our lives at the same time. 

Please wear a face covering if you can, social distance and keep washing your hands. These are the main things to remember! Goodness knows what October holds for us...... 


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