With lockdown measures being eased all over the world and a new sense of normality coming back to our lives, we have asked some of our trusted Bébé Voyage Ambassadors and Bébé Voyage team members what lessons they have learned about family life during the lockdown, what they will keep doing and what they would like to change for the future.
I think life after lockdown will be different. We mustn’t forget that even though lockdown will perhaps be over, the virus is not gone. And surely this will change the way we relate to each other in the long term. I live in a culture where touching, hugging, and kissing each other is very common. I think that will change; we will most probably start saying hello and goodbye by waving at each other at a distance! And yes, social distancing will also become more natural as we start doing it more often.
I think that is also going to have a big impact on the place where I live. Cafés and restaurants here are always packed with people. People usually like standing rather than sitting so when you walk into a café you have to literally squeeze yourself through all the people. Maximum capacities are changing by law, so this will definitely change people’s practices. I think that in the long run, all these things will start to feel more natural to everyone, eventually changing the culture.
I guess it’s a positive thing because it means more safety and health for everyone, but at the same time, it’s odd that something like this can change the way a culture works almost overnight. (Daniela Kemeny – Madrid Ambassador )
We took our last (and first as a family of 5!) vacation abroad to Mexico in late February and returned to Denver on March 6. I’m so grateful that we got the chance to leave the country, speak Spanish, eat all the food, and enjoy being in another country. Now that I see a long future without international travel, I’m even more grateful.
Schools in Denver closed on March 13 and I remember looking at all the other moms during pick up and all of us thinking “see you in a few weeks!?” Of course, that is now a lifetime ago.
Life during lockdown has been both incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding. I have three boys aged 5.5, 4, and 2.5 years so everything is non-stop around here. That said, we are incredibly lucky to have a yard. We recently planted our vegetable garden and I’m turning our front yard carport (super American thing from the ’50s) into an outdoor classroom. I want my boys to be outside as much as possible. I recently bought a huge world map to hang in our basement playroom. For now, we reminisce about our travels together and notice the rare airplanes flying overhead.
At first, the lockdown was much more difficult because it was all so sudden. Now, I’m trying to embrace our new routines. We aren’t allowed to use playgrounds, so we’ve found good climbing trees at our local park. I’m learning to slow down. I try to remember that we have no place to be and that this is just a very brief season. I also truly believe that we’ll look back on these days and miss them. Truly, to have the opportunity to spend so much time with my kiddos while they are young is a gift. It’s not an easy gift, but it’s a gift all the same.
We have been doing lots of porch pickups and dropoffs throughout our neighborhood as neighbors have come together to share food and grocery trips to minimize everyone’s exposure. I’m so proud and grateful to live in our neighborhood. One thing that I want my boys to remember most about this time is that our family did everything we could to help others.
I think that ultimately the changes that our family has had to make have been incredibly wonderful, even if the adjustment period was difficult. (Carrie Davis – Denver Ambassador)
We have gotten a lot more accustomed to being together all the time and even though there were adjustments at first, we all seem to like each other MORE now. I’m actually surprised by this, but I think we will continue spending more time together after lockdown than we did before.
What I have learned about family life: I am not good at many things and I accept that. My husband’s skills are significantly different than mine. So we have learned to recognize when the other is getting frustrated about doing something that he or she does not do well and step in to help. While we miss our travel and friends and routines, the new routine of spending every day together has been good! We still like each other! I’ve also gotten more in tune with my daughter’s emotions and needs. I hope this time together helps us all work even better in the future.
What I will keep after lockdown ends:
- I will not obligate us to do anything we don’t want to do. Having no extra obligations right now is nice and I want to keep that going as much as possible.
- Family-centered activities: watching movies, playing in the backyard, going for family walks, doing household chores together.
- Being more careful about large gatherings of people.
- Choosing which risks we take more thoughtfully.
What I will change after lockdown:
- Finding a few safe friends for my daughter to spend time with. Isolation with only adults for 2 months has been hard on her as she is 5-years-old and an only child.
(Sasha Robinson – Charlotte Ambassador)
After the lockdown, we will make the most of every opportunity to play with friends. That is the thing we have missed the most. We have ample space here in Ireland to play and be outside, so we are very lucky. We have also been so fortunate that my husband’s company has decided it’s best for everyone if they work from home full time. So no more commuting for him, which will hugely improve his, and our, quality of life.
(Flora – Ireland Ambassador)
During the lockdown, I have really reflected on the importance of being with my family. I really miss being able to see my parents and extended family in Ontario. I’ve always contemplated moving back, but now I’m thinking about that even more. Until it makes sense to move back, I want to visit them more often. I really regret not going to Ontario in late February or early March before everything shut down (even though I know the risk of catching COVID-19 might have been even higher then). (Kirsten Eeuwes – Editorial Assistant/Community Admin)
Life after lockdown:
- Being more aware of our surroundings and trying to avoid places that are overly crowded for now.
- Taking less unnecessary trips out and about. I used to go to the market a few times a week, now one parent goes and gets more for the week.
- Supporting more local stores. As our neighborhood stores suffer, we are trying not to rely on Amazon or big box stores as much as possible to help keep our community alive.
- Bringing more hand sanitizer/wipes for the whole family instead of just the kids.
- Continuing our walks to the beaches that we’ve started doing on the weekend mornings and evening family happy hours on the weekends, with the kids getting a special treat/snack as they play.
- Having more family time at home for at least the next year.
- Cooking at home more. William likes to cook and is finally home to help with it.
I think as a family we’ve learned to be more patient with each other. Having a toddler and a pre-teen at home is challenging without a pandemic, but when you get them all stuck in a house 24/7 it is chaos. We’ve figured it out for the most part, but it’s something we were forced to learn quickly. I think we, at least William and I, have learned to really appreciate things more, especially the little things we took for granted like the pool, beach, family friends, and friendly neighbors. When they are all taken away you really realize how important some of those things and relationships are. (Natalie Hunter – Community Manager)
I think family life after the lockdown will change for the positive. Before the lockdown, we were really concerned about making sure the kids were in sports and after-school activities. I never wanted them to miss out on anything. I realize now that it was a mistake. The thing they were missing out on was actually the most important thing: family time. Obviously, if they want to try something we will still let them, but I want to focus more on free time going towards the family, including our extended family who we are dying to see! This time (although stressful!) has also been amazing for us to slow down and remember what is really important. I’m actually really grateful for the reminder that it has given me. (Kelly Wright – Content and Membership Director)
After the lockdown is over, the main dynamic I am hoping will change is the work/life balance for my husband. He has loved being home with our daughter and being able to see more of her during the day (though sometimes a
little too much!) Honestly, it has been nice for me to have someone to take over, even if it’s just for five minutes when I am losing my mind/patience or have something pressing that needs to get done. His commute was never that bad, but it’s nice that he can put his computer away and be done for the day with five minutes until dinner is ready.
I’ve learned to make life work in a smaller space and the value of simple pleasures. One example is when things that you want aren’t available and accepting that and making do without it. I’ve been jumping up and down when my husband is able to find my favorite Greek yogurt at the supermarket! Normally that would just be a thing I would get without thinking. I’d like to get more structure in my and my daughter’s day. I often find myself not getting things done because I am planning with her or doing essential household things and while these are important, I’d love to grab even one hour of dedicated work time. And we have too much stuff in our apartment! I’d like to reorganize and declutter all of that since we have been spending more time in our apartment. (Liz McEachern Hall – Associate Editor)
The lockdown has certainly transformed our family life, unexpectedly for the better. We were used to having family time restricted to weekends as my husband works in an office all week and gets home just in time for bedtime and I juggle my work and raising our little girl from Monday to Friday. Now we get to be together a lot (sometimes too much) and it’s great. A and M have bonded on a whole new level and it’s nice for me to have someone to help out when I reach the end of my tether.
Working from home and being able to decide our working hours has given us precious moments to enjoy an unexpectedly sunny day or a quiet movie afternoon. These are the things I would like to keep and carry on once the lockdown ends. My husband is already discussing how to increase his working from home hours instead of commuting back to an office.
We have come to miss our friends and families, although as ex-pats we are used to not seeing them as often as we’d like. We are struggling with the idea of not knowing when we will be able to meet them again. Hopefully soon, as Zoom and FaceTime are no substitute for real hugs and kisses. We are very social people (well, A and I are….my husband is quite the introvert but in the end always joins in) so the first thing we will do once the lockdown is over and it’s safe to travel again will be to go home and see our extended families. This time without rushing our stay but instead taking our time to savor each moment. (Marta Conte – Editor At Large)
[Related Article: Life After Lockdown – Part 1]
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