As cases of coronavirus begin to rise again I’m beginning to get a horrible feeling of déjà vu. I’m assuming nobody wants to go back to a full lockdown, and although we’re currently being assured that this won’t happen there are rumblings of a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown during half-term – anyone else having flashbacks at the thought of nowhere to go and kids to entertain for a couple of weeks?
This can’t help but create more anxiety in a year that has already been characterised by isolation, unpredictability and a lack of routine, and seen a corresponding rise in levels of depression and anxiety. Possibly this is the future – an ever-present threat of lockdown that rises and falls along with the case numbers. It makes it very hard to plan more than a few days ahead at any given time, which can be wearing, particularly for children.
Even when schools opened there was concerns regarding how children would adapt to being back, the changing ways of going to school and the new social structures involved. Social bubbles, constant handwashing, zoom classrooms and staggered openings were all new adaptations that parents and children had to learn to manoeuvre. Some may be great innovations that we keep, for instance online lessons might provide extra flexibility in the future. Others may have unintended consequences that won’t be apparent at first, for example it’s important for young children to be able to read facial cues but they can’t when someone wears a mask – what will a reduction in social cues mean for emotional development and socialisation over a long period of time?
I doubt that schools will close again, not unless something truly drastic happens, but that probably doesn’t stop the lingering anxiety for parents and children alike. I guess the best we can do is learn from earlier in the year, whatever worked then to get you through the hardest of times will work again. Whether that’s decamping to a local park to look at the leaves, zoom calls where we all pretend the other person is on mute (hilarious!) or escaping into another world altogether through reading.