For the first eight weeks of lockdown, 2 of our Carers, Boyd & Lynne were in lockdown at their Essex, holiday lodge. “We were with our four looked-after children, TMT, RT, KR, and TD; and our daughter, Hayley has her own caravan with our granddaughters EP and KP. We all thought it would be a safer environment for the children and we were fortunate to be able to stay. Here is just a glimpse of our ‘lockdown lives’…

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7.00am: I woke up to find that TD (4yrs) was already up and had very quietly made her face up for the day with some make-up she had found, on closer inspection it also transpired that she had eaten four bananas. After I had showered and dressed her for the day, she asked for her breakfast but for obvious reasons we forfeited the cereal and she just had a slice of toast.

8:00am: TMT (9yrs 11mths) and RT (11yrs 8mths) awoke and immediately began getting the dishes out for their breakfast through half open eyes. TD tried her hardest to get a second helping of breakfast but once realising that this wasn’t going to happen, she went to play with the toys. When TMT and RT had finished their breakfast, they washed and dressed for the day to begin their schoolwork.

9.00am: After laying the table ready with paper and pens they logged onto their tablets and the day began. We have been sent a good website called Nimbl via the Virtual School and both children have a log in for this. RT immediately started doing her English and grammar). TMT began with his Maths. I persevered with this for an hour then due to my lack of capabilities and patience as a teacher I had to call for reinforcements. Thankfully, Boyd came to the rescue and completed the Maths lesson.

10.00am: Finally KR (1yr 3mths) woke for her breakfast, but this is quite a normal time for KR despite going to bed at 7.30pm. Blackout blinds are a wonderful invention, which we have discovered work well with children of all ages. KR sat in her chair to be fed her rusk then while she was eating her toast TD sat at the table to begin her schoolwork – this never lasts for long, but we strike while the iron is hot. After arming her with paper and pencils she did some colouring and attempted to copy her name. While TD was doing this KR was dressed for the day and toddled off with a grin to play with the toys.

11.30am: We received a call from the LA to say that Mum and Nan were ready for contact with TD and KR, at the moment this is via Facetime three times a week. I then spent the next 15 minutes following KR around the caravan and trying to keep TD away from the table so as not to get the other children in the picture. When she did comply, I had the job of trying to get her to talk to Mum and Nan, instead of just staring at the screen.

12 o’clock: Morning school and contact was over, and all the children sat at the table for a snack then went out to play on the beach. We are lucky as our lodge overlooks the beach and we usually have sole use of this other than the occasional dog walker. My granddaughters, KP and EP, had joined us by this time and they went with TMT and RT for a walk to the ramp to look for crabs. I thought this would make a nice change from TMT making camps. There are now so many of his camps dotted about the caravan park that we will soon have our own village!!

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Shortly after the children went out, TMT returned because he had fallen in the mud. He cleaned his legs under the hose before returning to the girls. TMT came back to clean his legs for a second time, and then a third – needing a change of clothing with every return. True to form, TMT returned for a fourth time; but this time he was completely covered in the mud as he had fallen on his face.  Anyone who has ever had the misfortune to fall in the mud at Maldon or watch the Maldon Mud Race will be aware that the smell lingers on the skin for at least two days and is absolutely vile. I told TMT that we would know he was coming before he walked around the corner 😊.

1:00pm: TMT and RT returned to complete another two hours of schoolwork which consisted of spelling and grammar, studying Ancient Greece and the Romans, plus the inevitable staring around the room that accompanies home schooling. During this time TD and KR were taken on the beach before KR was laid down for a nap.

3.00pm: School stopped for the day and after putting all their books away and tidying up the table TMT and RT went out to play.

Hayley returned with KP and EP when their school and finished and took TMT, RT, and TD crabbing again because TD wanted to find another pet crab. We already have one sitting in a bucket on the patio table with the very original name of Crabby. Crabby is actually dead, but the faith of a 4-year-old is very strong, and TD has high hopes that the water is going to revive him. Crabby is now also minus a couple of legs due to being constantly picked up and taken for a walk. Unfortunately, no new crabs were found today and after returning to the caravan TMT, RT, KP and EP spent some time on the beach and TD played on the balcony with KR who has just learnt to walk and tries desperately to keep up.

6.00pm: Dinner was ready, and we had all hands on deck. We have table layers, cutlery getters and sauce marshals – believe me preparing and organising dinner for 9 people is no easy feat 😊. Eventually we were all sitting down to eat but before I had even begun, TD is asking for seconds. I am sure she has hollow legs.

7.00pm: After dinner I prepared the bath for TD and KR while Hayley set up the paints and a sheet of paper on the table. Today we are making a heart with all our fingerprints in different colour paint and putting the finishing picture into a frame to remind us of this time. When TD and KR had been bathed, they were helped to add their fingerprints to the picture.

7.15pm TD and KR looked at books and we went through some nursery rhymes for KR and the alphabet for TD; then they both cleaned their teeth for bed. After saying goodnight to everyone they settled down in their respective bed and cot for the night. Two down four to go.

7:40pm: TMT and RT took turns in the shower then cleaned their teeth ready for bed at 8:00pm. RT said goodnight and after having a kiss she went to bed.   TMT asked if he could watch TV for a little while, conveniently forgetting his antics from earlier. He looked a little glum, but when I reminded him there was another day tomorrow, he agreed with me and after having a kiss he settled down to sleep. Four down two to go.

8.15pm: Hayley, KP and EP sat and chatted for a further 15 minutes, then they too returned to their caravan for the evening. Now it’s time to chill.

8.30pm: Peace once more reigned in our caravan, Boyd came out of his hiding place and we watched the TV to recharge our batteries, ready to do it all again tomorrow 😊

Take care and stay safe everyone. Remember there is a light at the end of every tunnel.

Lynne, Boyd & family (signing off from sunny Maldon)