It has now been four weeks since we were able to leave the house after a period of isolation. That first day felt amazing having been stuck at home for two weeks. For once our boys did not complain that they had to go out on a walk, in fact they fulling embraced it; running around like a couple of spring lambs.
It was also quite strange though, because this was our first experience of life in lockdown outside the house. We wondered how others would be reacting to this new reality, and even whether things would be different. As it turned out we found everyone to be very respectful of our space, and while the paths that I normally use daily were busier it was not aawhat you might call overcrowded.
Since then we have managed to get out every day for just over an hour, and longer at weekends. This has become just about my favourite part of each day, and an essential one to prevent cabin fever setting in.
I cannot say that the boys embrace the idea every day, but they certainly put up less resistance than before this all started. It is interesting too that while there may be a degree of recalcitrance at the beginning, everyone’s mood has noticeably improved a few kilometres in.
I love that this ritual has become an integral part of our day, a slice of family time that we, at most, used to do once a week. It is something that seems to be good for our collective mental health, and also an opportunity to have conversations that we would never otherwise have at home.
I also like the idea that as we look back on each of these short journeys, we can perhaps begin to see a pattern in the longer journey of this lockdown. Doing this helps me see some of the positive things that this overtly negative situation brings.
The danger, of course, is that spending so much time together as a family could feel claustrophobic and destructive, but from my perspective at least that does not seems to be happening. Perhaps the daily walk acts as a pressure valve to release those tensions and reset our relationships. It has certainly helped with the boys relationship with each other… often the first kilometre of the walk consists of them bickering, then to be replaced by in depth conversations about Minecraft, iPhones and YouTubers.
I think that it is easy to focus on the negative when we are forced into a situation like this, but while change tends to be challenging it is not always negative. Our family walk is definitely a positive development of the lockdown, not only in terms our our social interaction with each other, but also in our interaction with our surroundings.
It is very easy to take where we live for granted, and even get bored by it… but we have really come to appreciate the many wide footpaths that are a legacy of the many mines and other industries that dominate area until twenty years ago, another example of a positive that comes out of difficult moments of change.
I have no idea whether we can keep these family walks going after the lockdown has ended, but I know that I will remember them fondly as an example of how we faced this difficult situation together as a family, and hope that they will stand us in good stead for the future.