Lockdown lessons – courtesy of three kids five and under!

Etta and Artie branson draw face masks designs for The Skill Mill
Image from Holly Branson
Holly Branson
Holly Branson's writing
Published on 31 August 2020

Watching tens of thousands of little ones returning to school in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over the last two weeks has brought a lot of mixed feelings for me. Watching their excited little faces – nothing beats the massive smile of six-year-olds when they know they are going to finally see their friends again - is as heartbreaking as it is heartwarming.

For a whole generation of the really young ones this new normal will form their first real, vivid memories. Now that’s a bizarre thought. If just eight months ago you had of told me that Covid-19, coronavirus, “staying in our bubble”, social distancing and, requests for a constant stream of hand sanitiser would drip off Etta and Artie’s tongues just as naturally as “are we nearly there yet, mummy?” like millions of others, I would never have believed you.

Image from Holly Branson
Image from Holly Branson

For kids in their first year of school experiencing education has been interesting to say the very least. They had no sooner settled in, performed in their ‘winter festival’ performances and got to know their teachers a little better (and in the case of Etta and Artie fell in love with them a little deeper) when the routine they had come to rely on was whipped away.

Getting supplies ready for their return to school this week, it’s been incredible to see how resilient young kids can be. Explaining to two five-year-olds that its now ok to leave our sides and venture into the world again has been a lot easier than I would have imagined for them… but not quite so easy for me!

Like many millions of parents, Freddie’s and my new normal over the last five months has been working and schooling from home. At times, I’ll admit, the never-ending juggle of having Etta, Artie and Lola constantly with us was more than a little tiring (and during working hours a tad frustrating!) but being able to sit down and have every meal together every day has been surprisingly amazing. I know that in the coming months I’ll miss that.

Freddie Andrewes hugging his young son Artie
Image from Holly Branson

The last 16 weeks have been strange, unsettling, frightening at times, but they have also been wonderful in so many ways and I’m sad that it’s time to drop them at the school gates again. I guess I’m suffering from a case of parental “first day of school blues” all over again. I sat down last night and attempted to shake it off by writing down some the wonderful things that the kids have taught me – both about them and myself - through these strangest of times. 

As a carer or parent, if you can set aside a little time with a cuppa or a glass of something cold and, scribble down the positive, funny or exceptional lessons your kids have taught you over the last few months – I highly recommend it! I found myself laughing, squirming at some of the schooling ‘fails’ and the memories of the endless five-year-old ‘SHOWS’ we had to sit through!  Before long the fog of their impending return to school and the world (without us!) started to lift and I started to feel excited about their next chapter and what they’ll learn navigating this new normal.

Holly Branson's children playing doctors
Image from Holly Branson

Lockdown lessons – courtesy of three kids five and under!

  1. A schedule is KING – the most important lesson they taught me! It took me a few weeks to get it sorted – several missed work calls, a few pyjama days, extra screen time and lots of treats they would normally never get – and I finally nailed it – ish!

  2. The importance of not beating yourself up when the schedule goes out the window! Refer to my optimism in tip 1… A few zoom calls with my girlfriends and I realised I wasn’t the only one whose schedule often went out the window and to learn to go with the flow more. I actually think this lesson will be useful in my day job as well!

  3. Five-year-olds have the attention span of a gnat. Unless you make learning fun, colourful, visually stimulating you lose them right out of the gate!  Read: all teachers are heroes!

  4. Kids are bright, curious, inquisitive, relentless and funny! They can also completely ignore everything you say and throw epic tantrums at the drop of a hat! I realised that’s totally normal and they soon come round – it doesn’t mean you’re a total failure as a parent.

  5. I learned to get creative with lessons when I discovered they really loved ‘life skills’ - laundry, baking, learning about emotions, even housekeeping and cleaning kept them amused for the longest time. Something I intend to keep up!

  6. With my 18-month-old Lola - I loved getting to witness so many of her ‘firsts’. She is such an amazing little character - always laughing and getting up to mischief with her older siblings. Not being in the office has meant I got to experience the first time she sang, formed full sentences (well almost!) and went from crawling to running full pelt! I love my job and I love going to the office but there is something truly magic about experiencing your child achieve a new milestone.

  7. Young kids are surprisingly strong, adaptable, resilient, optimistic, determined, sharp and intelligent. Their approach to life is simple – they ask only for protection, sustenance, warmth, laughter, stimulation, love, and lots of hugs and kisses – material things mean little to them but the time you spend, just with them, means everything.

Etta and Artie Branson cleaning a window at their home in London
Image from Holly Branson

I know all experiences are different (and some families have really struggled), but staying with the positive I loved reading the results of a recent survey by Johnson's Baby.  Out of all the parents they surveyed they found 74% felt a stronger bond with their kids due to lockdown. 67% got to experience at least one ‘first’ – crawling, walking, talking, first bike ride (we did these ones!) – which they never would have done while in the office. 64% of parents felt more confident in their parenting abilities – so great. And my absolute favourite stat in their survey: 88% of Dad's said they got to experience a lot more with their children and enjoyed it!

If you feel like sharing any of your positive (and hopefully magical) experiences with your kids, family (or friends!) during the last 5 months I love to hear them and will share them on my Instagram Stories. We all need a little positive news and a smile or two!