How we have grown during lockdown

Liz Arriens

As November began, life was going swimmingly for me, my husband Kevin and our three-year-old daughter Coraline. We’d got our second “lockdown” routine going on smoothly.

The difference was, this time Coraline was at preschool each day. I was happy she was stimulated, I was working on my goals (writing a book, and health and fitness), the house was looking good. Kevin was working on our organic soap business which we began in February (I know, love the timing!) but as the small business guru Holly Tucker said to him in June, when he was lucky enough to be on one of her Instagram lives, he will have learned so many lessons, which might otherwise have taken years.

But then, Coraline got ill and was off preschool for six days with a virus and associated face rash. As November continued and those days inched on; I couldn’t get to my “to do” list, work on my goals, or keep on top of the house, and Coraline was bored. I knew it was a time for me to be in the moment with Coraline and surround her with love but still, I was even beginning to doubt that I was getting things right for Coraline.

I was trying to think of what Holly had said to Kevin. I was thinking to myself, “O.K., so I must be learning something here”. Then I’d be thinking, “O.K., so where’s the positive here?” and I still wasn’t seeing it. Then, all of a sudden, I began to have some “A-ha” moments as Oprah calls them.

(Image credit: Nicky Johnstone, 2019)
  1. This too shall pass

There was an exquisite message contained in Deepak Chopra’s 21 days of meditation, that I’m currently doing because a friend invited me to do it with her. It doesn’t have to be good; you just have to know it will pass. Life is made up of the good days and the bad days. It’s said the phrase equally applies to the good times; if you remember that phrase, you remember to cherish them too. 

And as an addendum to that, as my best friend pointed out, “It’s not just me!” Of course, everyone who has children has gone to that kind of a place, especially during lockdown type times. 

  1. Lightness

As my to-do list sat glaring from the table, untouched for days, and expanding in proportion to my overwhelm, my next “A-ha” hit me. What’s the opposite of intensity about a to-do list? And intensity about Coraline not doing enough with toys etc.? Acceptance and lightness!

My goals coach Christa helped me see this. It’s not about the list, it’s about how I look at the list. If I approach the list with lightness, working through my items in a calm, focused way one-by-one, then it feels good and like I have achieved something. Of course, I could devote a whole other post to “A-ha moments” around a to-do list and ways to rewire thinking about it.

As my other goals coach, Declan, pointed out, “if you don’t get to something, it’s because life has another plan for you”. This again, I loved as a way to shift to acceptance of what was.

  1. Perspective

Whilst we’re at it with the lightness, I realised it’s actually possible to re-frame the mind. I could sit there and list twenty things which mean Coraline is bored, or I could list twenty things I’ve done right and get on that train of momentum. My husband looked at the time and said, “you’re my hero, you’re human, and this too shall pass.”

  1. Faith

The biggest learning is when the beautiful chinks appear. They were always there in the wings.

During this time of, “I’m not getting it right,” and “Coraline isn’t interested in her toys,” (not to do with being ill, a general thing) and especially, “she doesn’t want to sit and do her flash cards” and why not throw in, “she doesn’t like sitting in the pram,” she was displaying all sorts of other amazing little things. See point 3. So Coraline was refusing to do her flash cards; she’s three years old (this I must stress was at the end of her illness when she was herself again). So, she doesn’t like sitting in the pram much; this too shall pass. Let’s take it lightly. 

Coraline doesn’t normally indicate to us if she is hungry or thirsty. She doesn’t normally go in the kitchen. But she crawled and sat in the kitchen twice during these six days. I knew she was telling us she wanted food or drink by going and sitting in there. Coraline began to do hands out for “no”. I realised when I said the word “drink” from behind her in the pram when we were on a walk that she had understood the word drink without seeing her drinking cup. That was pretty huge. More recently she has begun to crawl to her highchair to show she’s hungry. It’s all building.

A webinar with my goals coach Christa asked us to consider: “What if I approached everything from the end vision in mind knowing that was coming?” I’d feel differently. I’d let go with faith.

She pointed out that you realise there are certain ways you have lived your whole life: do some research, apply the research, get a result. What Coraline is teaching us is that we are not in charge of the timing. 

  1. Patience

This thinking brought back to me the words that a mum, who has a daughter in her twenties with Down syndrome, told me in a phone call when Coraline was a month old. She is a friend of a friend and lives in India. She told me then:

“Don’t worry about her responding, ignore that, it’s all going in. It’s not linear. It’s not incremental. She won’t show results immediately. One day it’s triggered in one moment. If I had listened to what people told me, I would have held back. It’s all getting registered. Neurons are triggered. She won’t show results immediately. One day my daughter just stood up and walked.”

Just goes to show you can learn a lot in six days off preschool. Holly was right – sometimes when you’re forced into a corner that’s when the growth really occurs. And Coraline has really grown in communication this past month, so we can’t wait to see what 2021 brings for her. 

Read more from Liz on her blog, Coraline and Us