Family-Education-Amsterdam

A lockdown with little pressure cookers

Pauline and Yann are the proud (and sometimes exhausted!) parents of two mischievous kids aged 2 and 5. Their eldest regularly enjoys our family classes and camps. What did their family life look like during the lockdown? How did they cope? We’re going to know everything since Claire interviewed them!

Children were like little pressure cookers about to explode at any moment.

To this day, we are still living in a partial lockdown. Could you give us an overview of your life before that (so long ago…)? How often did you go outdoors with your family, and in nature?

Pauline – Usually, I pick up the girls from daycare or afterschool at 5 pm. They are super tired and we have to carry on with the evening routine, so we go home. We go out in nature mostly on weekends, depending on the weather.
Yann - I usually don’t go outside with the girls during the week because when I come back from work it is already too late. We go to Marmosets* with our eldest on Saturday mornings.

And then the lockdown happened… Suddenly, we had to invent a new routine for the family, right? How did you organise it?

Yann - In the morning, we focused on schooling. We spent about 2 hours outdoors every afternoon. We didn’t go to playgrounds, at all. We were going in remote places, in nature, to play.

Can you tell us something positive about the lockdown?

Pauline - I enjoyed living at a slower pace. Not being committed to do every single thing that you normally have to do : waking up early every morning, doing the drop off, coming back home and organising the day, working, picking up the girls… We didn’t have to run from one activity to another… I also enjoyed doing home-schooling with my 5-year-old daughter and to get to know exactly what she was learning at school.
Yann - Experiencing working from home was a nice thing, and I am happy I did it. Trying to do it with the family wasn’t easy, but I did appreciate to spend more time with the girls, have breakfast and meals together.

She started crying for real and she couldn’t stop anymore.

On a different note, can you tell us about an especially difficult moment during the lockdown?

Pauline - It happened last week! Our 5 years old likes to play the mummy or the baby... She pretended to cry but then she started crying for real and she couldn’t stop anymore. I would ask her “What’s going on?” and she was like “I don’t know, I don’t know…” but crying and crying. She said she really wanted to go back to school, to see her friends. She asked to see them quite often and it was quite hard for her to be isolated.
Yann - I don’t have a specific moment in mind. For me, the lockdown wasn’t at slow pace at all. The days felt longer than before, more intense, constantly multi-tasking between work and family time.

I knew I had work to do. And I was thinking “okay, maybe I can let them play in the house…”. But then, I realised that no, they needed to go out.

Was it easy to find the motivation to go outside every day, when it was not usually a part of your routine?

Pauline - For me, sometimes it was a bit difficult to find the motivation. I knew I had work to do. And I was thinking “okay, maybe I can let them play in the house…”. But then, I realised that no, they needed to go out.
Yann - When kept indoors, children were like little pressure cookers about to explode at any moment. It was a relief to go outdoors! To me, this actually was the slow pace moment of the day. It was that small window of two hours outside. I knew I had a lot to do after that, but during that time, everything slowed down.

Was it easy to find something to do in remote patches of nature? What did you do?

Pauline - We mostly let them have free play. They built huts, climbed trees, invented stories, collected all kind of stuffs. And for me it was also the moment to refill my batteries!
Yann - Another small routine was to walk along the Amstel river a few minutes from home so that the girls could see some hens in a garden.

What did you feel when you heard that the clubs from Naya Nature were reopening?

Pauline - I was glad for Valentina! She was really happy and relaxed when she came back from the holiday clubs last week. It is a good time for her to be in community again. We were also relieved to have a bit of free time for ourselves...

I would like to go more often (…) It feels more accessible now that we have done it every day.

Will you change your routine and include more nature in it, now that you experienced it during the lockdown?

Pauline - I realised that I don’t spend enough time in nature. I would like to go more often. Nature has so much to bring. We have a green park and we bike 10 minutes to Amstelpark. It feels more accessible now that we have done it every day.
Yann - The connection to nature was quite important during this difficult time, where everything has changed. All our patterns have changed. If can keep working from home for a bit, we will continue going! And on weekends, of course…

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