Corona diaries – Easter holidays

It’s six weeks now since our lockdown started, with the children home with us for five of those. I must confess, it feels like forever, and the easy days when we dashed about the city seem like a lifetime ago. The longer it lasts, the more I hate it. Matt and I are in a constant struggle to squeeze in work around childcare, trying to keep the kitchen stocked, the house in some semblance of order and the children happy. And a lot of the time if feels like we’re failing at it all. We’ve had a particularly tough week with both children rebelling against our attempts at home schooling, constantly bickering and regularly telling Matt and I how much they hate us! And I don’t blame them – they are missing their friends and their teachers, and I’m sure it’s no fun being constantly told to wait a minute while we finish work calls and emails.

But it hasn’t been all bad – and looking back at the photos I took during the school Easter holidays, there were definitely plenty of smiles and fun moments. We had been due to be in San Francisco for the break, so the prospect of instead spending two weeks in our house was alarming. But the weather dramatically improved which lifted everyone’s moods and we soon found ourselves busy with more baking – including our first meringues, more cakes and attempting to cook egg stars in toast!

We cracked open some of the kits the children had accumulated in the playroom, with Alex attempting his first Airfix construction (a spitfire) and Sophie made salt crystals in her safety specs!

On Easter Sunday, Matt and I constructed an overly complicated Easter Egg hunt for the kids (which took most of the previous evening to set up) with rhyming clues and chocolate eggs hidden all over the house and garden. They loved it, and it whiled away half an hour!

Over the Easter weekend, we tried our first family bike ride. Heading off early so it wasn’t too busy, we cycled through some local parks enjoying being out in the fresh air under clear blue skies.

We cycled up to our local woods for a wander and it was almost possible to forget about Covid-19 for an hour as we played hide and seek.

The kids climbed trees, and we attempted a truly dreadful selfie – Matt and I looking a little haggard (and I’m desperately in need of the hairdressers to reopen so I can address the grey hair!).

Matt and I both ended up having to work for much of the Easter break, so our sanity was maintained by two brilliant local groups arranging virtual holiday clubs for the children. Alex and Sophie often attend the wonderful Nimble Arts creative holiday club during school vacation, and we were thrilled to learn they were attempting an online version. Every day at 10am, the children were sent details of missions they had to complete. It was all very relaxed, we could do as much or as little of the suggested activities as we wanted. They used an online platform so we could upload what the children wanted to share, and they received messages back and scores they tallied during the fortnight.

Every day had a totally different theme and the children couldn’t wait to log on to find out what the plan was. One day we were Romans, learning how to speak in latin and then we were in Hollywood learning about silent movies. I’ve pasted in some of the pictures and videos we created. I rarely upload videos here – but these crack me up and I know I’ll have a good chuckle at them in a few years!

Alex and Sophie made sock puppet aliens:

And then created a news station and filmed a bulletin about their aliens attacking the city – Sophie sounds so posh here!

They invented a jetpack and controller on day:

And Alex recorded an explanation of how his controller worked:

On a day with a pirate theme, they practiced balancing aboard ship:

Sophie asked to make a video about a pose she does at gymnastics:

And they designed pirate treasure maps and birthday cards:

Alex created an amazing map which he carefully labelled:

Here he is taking you on a tour of his dangerous route to find treasure:

As someone who isn’t brilliant at craft activities with the kids, I just loved the holiday camp – it was so helpful having ideas and prompts to help structure the long holiday days, and Alex and Sophie were so motivated by the feedback.

In the second week of the holidays, we also took part in a Stagecoach online holiday club. In the pre-lockdown days, Alex spent every Saturday morning at Stagecoach theatre school so was thrilled to have a chance to join his teachers and friends. Over a week, they ran a Matilda workshop – sending us singing and dancing workshop videos, and meeting up on Zoom every afternoon for an hour of drama and script work.

On the Friday afternoon, they gathered to run through the script and songs together. Alex and Sophie loved it. They played different characters in each scene, with Alex getting to be Bruce (his favourite character in the show) and Mr Wormwood, and Sophie delighted to play Matilda for one section.

Here they are singing ‘Naughty’ for their singing teacher – an apt song for the cheeky pair!

Around all these brilliant online activities, we’ve been making the most of our daily state sanctioned exercise. I’m managing to run a couple of times a week and Matt’s been heading out on his bike regularly. Alex has been asking to join him, so the pair of them keep heading off for afternoon rides up to Crystal Palace – a pretty decent hill climb covering about 15km. Alex is so proud to be joining his daddy for a proper ride!

Meanwhile, Sophie and I do plenty of walking. She was delighted to see this lovely sign on a local road.

I’ve enjoyed looking back at these photos – a nice reminder that there will be at least a few happy memories from this time! Here’s hoping we find some more fun in the next few weeks until the lockdown starts to lift.

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