Things are starting to edge slowly towards something that feels akin to a kind of normality. The kids have been back in school and the adult population is gradually receiving vaccinations. But beneath the tentative positivity, many of us are wondering what the long term effects will be, especially on our children.
Those that I’ve spoken to over the last twelve months, through various stages of lockdown, have been doing their best to cope. They have mostly risen to the challenge, feeling strong sense of responsibility to support their parents and families through desperate times. But like all of us, they’ve also had the odd meltdown.
The primary complaint has been that of missing their friends, but more surprisingly perhaps, they have moaned about the lack of opportunity for exercise. There were plenty of good intentions during the first lockdown, with whole families pulling together, pushing, bending and jumping together for Joe Wicks or other online classes - and many heroic families have stuck with it. However, as time has dragged on and finding ways to adjust to new variants in surviving the crisis has taken precedence, exercise has often fallen by the wayside.
Children are physical creatures and they communicate with their entire beings. Even our teenagers express their dissatisfaction with their whole bodies. For young people physicality is more than keeping fit; it’s essential for their overall wellbeing and ability to connect. Which is not to undermine the biological benefits. In pre-Covid times, almost eight in ten children failed to amass the hour a day of movement seen as vital to prime young cardiovascular systems and to lay down bone density. Over the last twelve months, things have got even worse.
We have a duty to stop this trend. Children learn most from the example of their parents and other influential adults. So we all need to move more - and hey, it’s good for us too. Didn’t you feel better during those weeks the family was exercising together? There’s more choices for us than ever before, and as the world begins to open up we can take advantage of even more of them.
It’s Spring! Let’s turn over a new leaf and get our children moving again. And I’m afraid the best way to do that (even if they’re teens, even if they moan) is for you to take the lead.
The other day I was gazing idly out of my front window when a young family walked by - mum, dad and a little girl of around two. She was holding onto her mother’s hand and happily chattering away to her as they walked down the street. It hit me suddenly and strongly: this little girl has a total disregard for the fact that she’s a child.
Not everyone has been disappointed about being unable to have the family over for Xmas. As part of a get together on Zoom over the festive season, where I knew only a few of the attendees, one woman was sounding-off about how thrilled she was to be able to avoid her in-laws this year.
I was recently reminded of ‘The Liver Birds’ the 1970s sitcom starting Nerys Hughes and Polly James (check) as a couple of flat sharing girls carving out their own lives in Liverpool. I was around six when it first came out. I remember sitting at the top of our stairs with a pal from school ‘playing’ the girls. It was my life’s ambition to move to a city and share a place with a girlfriend. It’s commonplace now, but at the time such an arrangement was anything but. The Liver Birds were so different from any other portrayal of women on television at the time. They were my heroines, showing me that I didn’t necessarily need to marry a man to get out of the familial home and on with my life. I loved them.