Family & Education

Sunny season for zoom time

Nursery is back - sort of - and Jessica Weinstein is adjusting


Lockdown is easing and life is slowly starting to return to normal — or the new normal anyway.

Spending the last few months of my maternity leave navigating a pandemic meant that instead of going to baby clubs and having leisurely coffees with mum friends, I’ve had to create my own sort of baby club. If I’m lucky enough to get a coffee, it’s certainly not a relaxing experience.

I feel a mixture of gratitude that I’ve spent so much unexpected time with my children while they’re so young and for the family memories we’ve made that wouldn’t have happened during business as usual, and sadness at the socialising they have both — but especially my baby son — missed out on.

But nursery has started again for my daughter, so I’ve been thrown into another new lockdown/childcare situation. When she’s at home, most activities revolve around her; my mum-guilt about this was slightly assuaged by my husband’s repeated motto that just being in the same room as a three-year-old was enough stimulation for her little brother. 
I don’t know how true that is, especially as after three months in lockdown my baby has transformed into a nearly one-year-old, but regardless, now he has my undivided attention four days a week, every other week.

Every other week? Yes, because while nursery has started again, it’s not the nursery we knew pre-lockdown. I’m sure many of you reading this (if you are parents) are split into one of three camps.

1. Just be grateful your nursery/school is open, I still have all my children home 24/7 and so far there’s no indication of when they’ll go back.

2. My kids are back in full-time childcare, nothing has changed as regards days or hours and it’s all back to normal. Why isn’t your nursery doing the same?

3. Yes! Our childcare has re-opened but we’ve not got our full hours back.

I’ll be honest, I don’t envy the headteachers of nurseries or schools. This is an unprecedented situation and the struggle to come up with a plan that is both practical and safe (and one that works for every parent) must have been a logistical nightmare.

However it is a comeback that has made my daughter so happy I’m not even concerned that it’s not going to be full time for the foreseeable.

After so many weeks looking after her and her brother largely alone, mainly with no breaks (husband working up a storm in the “office” upstairs) the start of this term felt almost like I’d gone back in time to the end of my last maternity leave, when she first started nursery.

This time, slightly emotional, and regretful for all the arts and crafts we didn’t get round to doing, I hugged her tightly and said: “I’m going to miss you so much when you go to nursery tomorrow, will you miss me?” She looked up at me with the biggest smile on her face and said: “No mummy, I’m going to be having SO much fun!”

I know most parents dreaded the weekly Zoom calls, and there’s no denying they have their limitations, but I’m going to miss watching her interact with her teachers and classmates, happily joining in with the Ivrit lessons but sometimes missing the mark on the pronunciation, and listening to the children all talking over each other.

Her class has been split into bubbles of eight children, and they are spending as much of the day as the weather allows outside, which means she is essentially attending a nursery-cum-park-playdate. Children are encouraged to bring in bikes or scooters — and is there anything that brings a three-year-old more joy than zooming around on wheels? — far better than Zooming on the laptop.

Home nursery was never as much fun as real nursery, but now I wonder how real nursery will live up to post-lockdown nursery when things finally return to normal.

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