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.
Lockdown has really solidified our lifestyle choices to homeschool and live a minimalist-leaning, nomadic life. We have had to be stationary and spend most of our time away from the van during this time. However, I can see the benefits of our lifestyle in how our children have handled the pandemic and our lockdown. They have shown a great amount of resilience. They have adapted easily, communicated their needs and concerns, and taken the ever-changing rules and information in stride. We are excited to get back out and cautiously explore once it is safe. (Tiana Kubik – Nomad Ambassador)
It is interesting to think about family life after lockdown. Kazakhstan was one of the early locations to shut down. We have spent over 8 weeks in quarantine and only in the last few days have we been able to walk around campus, with masks and gloves, between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. The precautions have seemed to help to keep the number of cases down. And this is where the concern comes in for life after lockdown. Many people are still feeling cautious and more questions arise daily:
- What decisions will families make for their children in returning to school?
- What will the school day look like? Will there be staggered classes? Will there still be recess?
- If it feels too risky to have children back in traditional schooling, what other options are available to parents?
For us in Kazakhstan, life after quarantine will be different than before. We’re fortunate that our jobs are still intact but travel for work and family trips has already been canceled for the UK, Spain, Uzbekistan, and the US. We’re looking into options for homeschooling into the fall if needed, or in developing a co-operative school for the kids. While definitely stressful, we’re trying to focus on unforeseen opportunities and helping others who are struggling during this time. (Anna CohenMiller – Kazakhstan Ambassador)
I’ve been thinking a lot about this. This is how our family life has changed and will change for the foreseeable future regardless of the level of opening we’re in:
One of the biggest changes that my family has seen is just slowing down. I’m the kind of parent that likes to get my kid out and doing things almost every day we’re home together. Part of it is because I get a little bored at home and I always thought it was more fun to be out in the world. Plus I’m an extrovert and being around people gives me energy. So we were often at the zoo, OMSI (our local science museum), coffee shops, or parks all around the city. I miss those adventures a lot; however, slowing down has had a really positive effect both for me mentally and for our family life. I feel a bit less stressed than being on the go all the time. It’s also more my husband’s pace who’s a bit of a homebody. And it’s made us have to be more creative about how we spend our days in our neighborhoods. I realize I don’t get as bored as I thought I would and we’re just generally spending more quality time with each other. I feel more mindful of how we spend our days and what kinds of activities we’re doing together. It feels a bit like when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi around 15 years ago where I didn’t have the same distractions and diversions in rural Malawi as I did back in the US. I had no choice but to slow down and I eventually got used to it. Hopefully, I will be more mindful, trying to stay off my phone and being outside as much as we can when the weather is consistently better.
I foresee this as our new normal because even as places start opening up, it’s not likely that we’ll be going to eat in coffee shops or restaurants with our 3-year-old. And we have to be careful not to go to some places that are super crowded. So I think this is going to be our way of life until it’s healthier to get out and do things.
(Elizabeth Doer – Contributing Editor)
So one thing that the lockdown has taught us is to live a bit more “à notre rythme” as the French say. I’ve fallen into my natural beat which is staying up a little later and sleeping a little later, and it’s been nice living like that and not feeling pressured by society to live differently. I hope we all have learned to slow down and that this carries through post-COVID-19 (whenever that will be!)
Another thing: I have always loved my children, but I love them even more now. Spending this much time with them has been tiring, but also an incredibly bonding experience. My kids are at the age where they are just starting to be able to be slightly independent (3 and 6). Watching them play creatively together has been a joy.
In terms of my extended family, I miss them! As soon as possible, we will reunite with my family in the US and as soon as it’s safe to travel to France, where my grandparents and much of my extended family lives, I’ll be there.
COVID-19 is teaching me to be more present with those I love. (Juliet Perrachon – Founder Bébé Voyage)
I think the pandemic will change the dynamic of our family life and how we choose to spend family and social time for a long time. I also think it will absolutely affect how and when we travel.
We’ve become very used to weekends being just our family and as introverts (at least my husband and I) it hasn’t bothered us. I think our kids miss the picnics, playdates, parties, barbecues, etc. more than us, but they’ve grown used to it just being us. I think that even when restrictions are lifted we will maintain this type of weekend life. It’s sort of a return to what’s at the heart or core of family: time together. I think we’ve all developed an appreciation for taking time to play, whether it’s a competitive game or race, a made-up pretend game or just silly “I spy” or “what am I?” verbal games. We’ve found such simple ways to pass the hours and enjoy being together. I’ve resisted the mentality of the “let the kids watch tv; it will be ok – you’re doing the best you can; give yourself a break” dialogue and I’ve really forced us to get creative. That’s not to say we don’t have days where I allow more tv – whether it’s for them or for me – but generally unless someone clearly needs a mental time out, I believe it’s in all of our best interests to either get outside and play or get creative. I think this will carry forward when things begin to normalize, especially since I don’t believe we will begin dining out or really socializing normally for some time.
We’ve done so many silly things like building a castle out of cardboard for the girls to play in, having an at-home spa, camping indoors, etc. and I will continue to seek out ways to be creative with our family time and our environment to keep things exciting and fun.
Beyond that, I don’t know what travel will look like for us. We have to move at some point in the next few months. It’s a big move: 16-hour flight and moving the contents of a 6,000 sq ft home across an ocean. We need to find a new house, buy cars, find schools; it’s a lot and we cannot avoid it. But beyond that, as ready as I am to travel again, I’m not sure I will be able to do it easily without significant anxiety which for me which greatly impacts the excitement and enjoyment. I don’t foresee us traveling by air (other than our move) until there is a proven vaccine. There are too many unknowns and it’s too difficult to control with children. Once we do decide to travel, I imagine we will take more precautions than ever before as it pertains to cleanliness and sanitization of everything we touch. It definitely changes the dynamic.
The first place we will go to is the bush. We will get in one last safari before we leave Africa. We will soak up every last bit of African sunrise and sunset while silently stalking animals in their habitat and watching our children witness some of the most magical things they may ever see.
All told, it’s hard to know exactly how family life will change. I imagine many of our new habits as it pertains to shopping and takeout and sanitization and bringing things into the home will persist for quite some time. Wearing a mask, especially while traveling, will also persist. I was already the mom who had extra hand sanitizer available, but I think the habits surrounding hand washing and sanitizing will definitely persist. (Jessica Randi – Instagram Manager)
Oh, family life will most definitely be even more savored. We miss our extended family so much, especially me living an ocean away from my parents. We are now lucky enough to have my in-laws stay with us for the next several weeks and are so happy about it! My daughter laughed and smiled for HOURS upon seeing them in person again. FaceTime just doesn’t do it. Family and health have always been as important as it is now, it’s simply even more clear during the current circumstances.
(Katie Donnelly – Paris Ambassador)
One of the silver linings of our lockdown experience has been the opportunity for my sons to develop a closer relationship. Prior to this, my 4-year-old attended preschool 3 days a week while his little brother was home with me. While being together all day, every day, obviously results in the occasional squabbles, for the most part, they have really bonded over their shared activities and routines. We cherish watching them develop their own little games and ways of communicating with each other and we can’t wait to see their relationship continue to evolve as they get older! (Amy Orzel – Managing Editor)
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