This post is in conjunction with Boots UK. All thoughts are my own.
Today’s post is part of the #ParentYourWay campaign from Boots UK. Becoming a new parent is challenging for most people, but factor in a global pandemic and lockdown restrictions and you’ve got yourself the perfect breeding ground for increased loneliness and isolation. Repeated lockdowns have been hard on us all, but for new parents it’s been especially tough missing out on the opportunity to socialise, to get out of the house and to form friendships with other new parents.
I think back to when Belle was little, how every day had to be focussed around an outing, a meeting with friends, just to make it bearable, and I wonder how on earth I would have coped living through the virus. Those daily activities and interactions were what kept me sane, the other mums I met at breastfeeding group every Thursday, and went on the form forever friendships with, how would things have been different if I’d never had the opportunity to meet them?
Even little things I remember, like taking Belle to the big Mothercare when she was about nine months old for her first ever pair of shoes… so many of these new parent landmarks, shopping for your baby nursery bits, first haircuts – they have been made difficult or impossible by Covid.
I know that I’ve been massively lucky as a new grandparent during the pandemic. Bee and her partner and baby Joey moved down to Taunton literally a few days into the first week of lockdown in March 2020. It was a bit of a fraught day, as we weren’t entirely sure it was even allowed, but they’d given up the old house, the new tenancy was starting – there wasn’t much of a choice really. I remember asking Bee for a copy of their new tenancy agreement, which I printed out and kept with us in the van just in case we were stopped by the police and had to justify our presence on the road.
(I had imagined a post-apocalyptic scene on the motorway – armed police guarding the border into Bristol, a tuck and roll from the cab of the van, shots fired while I waved the printed tenancy as a flag of surrender. Nothing happened, it all went very smoothly.)
I’m so glad they were able to make the move though as being just a five minute walk away from me has made the pandemic considerably easier for all of us.
The move had come about in part because of the need to be closer to us for support. Bee had a very difficult pregnancy and has been struggling since, and we all wanted me and Belle to be able to be more hands on. We had thought that the move would mean Bee and Belle being able to do simple things like walk into town to get coffee together, or for me to pop over and babysit while Bee and her partner went out to eat, but coronavirus put a bit of a spanner in those works.
Whereas for many grandparents lockdown has prevented them from seeing their grandchildren, I’ve been lucky in that I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with Joey over the last year. Bee’s partner is a paramedic, and has worked incredibly hard throughout, and in turn I stepped up, particularly in the first six months of the virus, to provide childcare for Joey and to be there in a caring capacity for Bee.
That’s not to say it’s not been hard sometimes, juggling these new roles with my existing responsibilities, but it’s been a privilege to get to know Joey. It’s been lovely too to see Belle in her role of aunt, having this special time with him.
Belle helped to give Joey his first ever haircut a few weeks ago, which is why he’s looking so grown up and sophisticated. Also, his outift! The zip up hoodie and magical colour changing shorts are from the Mothercare baby clothing essentials range, available on Boots, and his little chubby legs are enough to break your heart.
We also now have a Mothercare buggy, complete with shark teeth, which feels very appropriate for the beach. We already have our own baby car seat permanently in our car, which has been a game changer, and the buggy is going to be so handy for me to just keep in the boot and load up with stuff for our trips out. No more going out to Bee’s garage now for Joey’s big pushchair and taking it apart to fit in the car every time we want to pop to the beach for a paddle and a box of raisins. Check out the baby pushchairs range for this shark buggy.
Being a grandparent during lockdown hasn’t always been straightforward, and I have sometimes missed being able to do things like take him to a baby group or soft play, (I never thought I’d say that), but actually I’ve enjoyed being forced to spend more time outdoors. Joey loves birds, and when he was younger would spend ages in the park standing and watching the pigeons. Now he’s mobile he’s very happy organising sticks into puddles or moving pebbles from one part of the beach to another.
I wonder if we hadn’t had it forced upon us, whether we would have enjoyed so much time outside, and whether we’d have missed out on a lot of the simpler pleasures we’ve enjoyed together this past year.
Being a parent or grandparent during the pandemic has had so many challenges, not least of which for grandparents has been the awfulness of having to keep a distance or not being able to travel to see family.
However you’ve managed this last year, whatever your parenting style, whatever approach you’ve taken to get through each day, I hope that the rest of the year gets easier, and that parents, grandparents and children are able to reconnect and enjoy time together, just like me and Joey.
Look out for #ParentYourWay posts on social media and check out the full Mothercare essentials range available now at Boots.