The past 12 months has seen so much tragedy but the Coronavirus has also afforded a special time that families may never experience again. It could be argued that people have stepped back in time and forced to keep within a bubble have discovered family pastimes enjoyed by previous generations. Normally people are so busy that they feel they are on a conveyer belt racing round all the activities and commitments of a busy family with little time to think. The mornings are a rush of getting everyone out of the house to school and work with packed lunches, homework, sports kit and any extras for the day. The evenings are spent making sure all is ready for tomorrow to ease the morning mayhem.
During this latest lockdown families have found more indoor pursuits. Last March the weather was unseasonably pleasant and whilst the only activity permitted was a thirty minute walk families found time to tend to the exterior of their home and garden whether that was painting or cleaning. This winter with long dark nights and cold wet weather it has not been possible to be outside so much. Families have watched films long forgotten and caught up on box sets that are suitable for all to watch. Many have enjoyed jigsaws and board games sometimes across platforms that allow friends to interact. There have been online quizzes and even parties where groups enter “rooms”. There has been a rise in people learning to knit and sew. Board games have been around since civilisation began; backgammon sets were found amongst the treasures of the Mary Rose, for example. Chess has been played for centuries but following the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit” there has been a resurgence in interest. It is not just modern games that are enjoyed.
Even with home schooling and work there is more time in the day with less spent commuting. This affords people the opportunity to cook recipes from scratch, perhaps involving all members of the household and even cooking with others via a social media platform. There is time to join a yoga class online or follow a fitness guru workout. Siblings are forced to interact with each other in the absence of anyone else and have found they have more in common than they thought before.
A new respect has emerged for teachers as parents have found it much more difficult than they thought explaining topics in mathematics and science, for example. However, as a result of home schooling and discussions around the themes studied I know of families who have found time to debate their fictional party guest list or have a balloon debate on who is the more useful between various historical figures. Everyone is more aware of politics and roles in Government.
With the roll-out of the vaccine and hope of a brighter future a return to the near-normal we once enjoyed is on the horizon. This crisis has made many reflect on their lives and priorities and there are aspects of lockdown that many will want to keep.
Headmistress of Portsmouth High School