As a Grandmother with medical conditions living alone, like many others in my situation I have found Lockdown challenging in isolation. However, I have been quite determined that it was not going to defeat me. I have two married daughters, both Keyworkers and four Grandaughters, aged 9 to 15, and I love them dearly. However, I have almost no extended family as I am an only child, but have many good friends.
This pandemic has come swiftly and fiercely turning our world, the whole world, upside down bringing confusion, sorrow and panic in its wake and none of us were prepared with how to deal with it. I have often found myself thinking of how my parents must have felt living through the horror of WW2. I can connect with their difficult and low times and certainly we are now enduring ours but out of adversity, must come courage.
What helps me to cope in Lockdown? I have a structure to my day as this is essential for me. It helps handle the difficulties of living alone as I was widowed ten years ago. It moves the day along with a positive spin. During Lockdown, I have taken a walk in the morning if possible when it is quieter and the air is fresh. We have been blessed with some beautiful weather and there is always something to see on my route, trees in bloom, the birds gathering nesting material, someone to say hello to as we pass. I do Pilates to my favourite DVD. The radio is never off in the background during the day as I find the quiet in the house somehow disconcerting.
I love my garden and there is always something to do although I have had to be creative in obtaining the items I needed. Thank goodness for Amazon! I have been very fortunate to have a garden to enjoy during this time. A list of projects keeps me busy around the house though it is strange that the boring ones always slide to the bottom of my list and may never reach the top. It is lovely to tick them off as I go. I even clean the car, though I hardly ever drive it at present!
I often call or text a friend or family during the afternoon and my daughter who lives locally calls me late afternoon on her way home from work so I always look forward to that. She is very caring and sometimes pops by with a meal she has cooked. Evenings can be more difficult, although now I can have another walk. I am a keen cook and love trying new recipes, but often need to be creative as some products are difficult to get. I love to read and watch my favourite T.V. programmes, do quizzes and puzzles. Some study groups have moved to Zoom with interesting talks. The Internet is a blessing. Anything to keep me away from the biscuit tin as my willpower flags when I am low or tired and I do love chocolate. We must be kind to ourselves.
I have been overwhelmed by the kindness of neighbours, notes through the door offering to shop or help in any way but I am independent and have managed to obtain some sort of online shop once a fortnight, but I have been grateful for the items neighbours have obtained for me and for their kindness. I live in a small close and on Saturday afternoons when the weather is good, a few of us sit outside socially distanced and have a chat. Neighbours I had hardly met before of all ages have become friends. I also offer some support to those older than me nearby as a phone call can make such a difference as can sharing some of those hard-to-get items.
My eldest daughter and her husband live a distance away with their two daughters. She is a frontline Hospital Consultant and sadly I have not seen them since New Year. We speak weekly using WhatsApp as it is so much better to see their faces as we chat and the distance between us falls away for a while. We have Zoom quizzes occasionally on a Saturday where the whole family can take part. Nothing taxing, just good fun and it is lovely to see us all laughing and interacting and great to see all nine of us together. I must say a word about Fathers, as my two Sons-in-Law are working from home overseeing the children doing their schoolwork, which also means that their own work will carry on into the evening once the children are in bed. Well out of their comfort zone but they do a grand job.
Personally the most difficult part of being in Lockdown for me and for many of us Grandparents has been the lack of contact with Grandchildren. The inability to hug or have any physical contact leaves a deep and enduring hurt and their little voices on the phone sound so far away. Grandparents can feel very left out especially those who have previously had a great deal of contact or have shared raising their Grandchildren. I have friends who now read bedtime stories to their younger Grandchildren over the phone or on WhatsApp. Cooking the same meal together or baking over WhatsApp is another idea for older children. Swapping pictures they have made or ones you yourself have made is another idea and, of course, just chatting over the phone.
What of the Grandchildren themselves? This has been a frightening, worrying and confusing time for children everywhere at all ages. Grandparents can engage with their Grandchildren in a way no-one else can to reassure and dispel some of these worries. Children need structure and stability in order to feel secure and to develop. We will not fully understand the effects of this period of their lives until much further along this road. We are all still learning. For some children in more challenging situations this must be a difficult time and it is so good that schools have remained open and available for the children of Key Workers and the vulnerable in our society whilst providing some normality and structured learning for those still at Home, despite the challenges.
Well done to everyone involved in keeping Schools open. You are all heroes who continue to work bravely through this time and I am proud to count my daughter among them. We must all keep moving forward. There will be better times ahead.