candles black and white

Today marks a year since the UK first went into lockdown. We said goodbye to friends and family members, not knowing when we would next be able to hug or even see them in person. Schools closed and millions of families started to try to adjust to the idea of home-school. Statistics started to get downright scary. Since then, we’ve all been through so much, and so the concept of a National Day of Reflection is both important, and welcome.

The idea of reflection is a very personal thing, and so we each should approach this National Day of Reflection in our own way. For some, especially if they have lost someone to this pandemic, it may be a day to mark quietly, remembering those who have passed. For others, myself included, it’s a time to think how lucky we are that our nearest and dearest have been largely unaffected. So whatever this pandemic has meant for you, and whatever your experiences have been, know that it’s OK to feel however you feel.

As well as a time to acknowledge and process what we have all been through, a National Day of Reflection is, to me, also a time for learning. So in this blog, I wanted to share three things that I have learned over the last 12 months:

Reflection 1: Patience is a virtue.

Twinkl Tose School opened in our house at the start of lockdown 1, and this was replaced by Autumn Blaze School in January 2021. I found myself catapulted into the world of Year 1, and then Year 2 teaching and was suddenly surrounded by expanded noun phrases, the FANBOYS mnemonic and the different layers of the ocean. And I realised that learning in Year 2 in 2021 was very different to Year 2 in 1987/88 when I did it!

But what I really learned was patience. Mostly from trying to get my daughter to type more than one sentence on a computer, and the amount of time it takes to do that when she was so inclined! I soon realised though, that it wasn’t just a case of me adapting to home-school, but her too. And we needed to learn to be patient with each other.

Reflection 2: Time flies

Prior to lockdown 1, had you asked me what it would be like to stay at home all day, every day, I’d have probably told you that the time would drag. But actually, it was the opposite. I had my teacher hat on in the day, then my Mum hat in the late afternoon/early evening, then my work hat until 1030pm every night. And when you’re trying to cram so much in, the clock speeds up.

And in a way, the fact it went by so quickly was sad. I have some wonderful memories of home school. Our dramatic performance of Little Red Riding Hood. Turning potatoes into superheroes. Making a density tower (yes, I had to Google that one!). And I’ll miss being able to experience my daughter’s learning with her, rather than having to read about it in school reports and through the odd nugget of information that she might choose to share on the way home.

Reflection 3: Keep your loved ones close

I think this is one that we can all relate to. And it’s not one that, to be honest, needs any words to describe. How much have you missed people, connections, hugs?

Then, of course, there are those we’ve lost, and those who have survived, but who haven’t returned to how, and who, they were before. These people, and their families will always be in our thoughts, whether we knew them personally, or not. As a nation, we all feel a sense of loss, whether it has come directly to our door, or not.

Finally, on this National Day of Reflection, my thoughts turn also to the front line workers. All of the medics and hospital staff who have worked so tirelessly and in the face of such unbelievable adversity, sadness and loss. So alongside remembering the people who have passed away due to this terrible pandemic, let’s also give thanks for the people that they have saved. Let’s thank too our teachers, who have gone so far above and beyond for our children. The supermarket workers who have ensured that shelves are still stocked. The police who have kept us safe in a world that was completely changed.

So whoever you are. Whatever your circumstances and experiences of this pandemic, when the clock hits 12pm today, stop for a moment and join the minute’s silence. Then at 8pm, return to your doorstep. Bring a candle or torch, and shine it into the sky. Let’s think about who and what has been lost, but equally let’s look to the future, and do so with hope, and a sense of resolve that we will make the most of each and every day.