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10 reasons why lockdown #3 is the worst sequel ever

It's okay, we're all having the same dream. The one where you are running the marathon with the finishing line just yards away (sorry metres...this is why home-schooling is so impossible). And there's the ribbon, you're about to break through and then something happens. Your head is underwater and when you come up, you're back at that starting line. Only now you're really knackered, your hair is beyond anything you've ever seen before and you are a little bit fat. And your children hate you. And while there is nothing even slightly amusing about the Pandemic, as parents we quickly found (made and hung up in our windows) rainbows. So, a small disclaimer - this post is about the rainbow side of Lockdown #1 the one we conjured up in the darkness. Because if anyone knows it, parents do - that you learn an awful lot about what to do when life hands you a year's supply of lemons.

So, with that in mind, let us cast our minds back to the historical equivalent of Grease the movie. Like every original story, this held our attention until the very end. We had no idea what would happen next with Rizzo, or Danny, because we couldn't have imagined in our wildest dreams that we would be doing it all over again, with a sub-standard cast, mediocre soundtrack and a plot so loose, it was around our ankles in seconds. Yes, Lockdown the sequel is as bad as it could possibly be. And we're going to have to deal with it. But for now, let's take a lovely trip down memory lane at the original (and now entirely rose-tinted, at least in our minds) blockbuster of Lockdown #1.

1 You'll find us all getting with the Lockdown Lingo

As a very un-British sun beat down on our naive heads, the original lockdown saw us rise to new challenges, we were young ( this past year counts as 10 in lockdown years) and our jaws still moved about with apparent ease (now they grind all night long). Our first lockdown selves were grateful for the end of daily commutes from school, to work and in reverse again. We marvelled at the sky (which was surely a technicolour blue), and stopped to exclaim at the wonders of bird-song not being drowned out by traffic or plane noise. We still fitted into our trousers and we slowly got ourselves into a gentle rhythm of baking, doing zoom things (mainly on mute) and becoming accustomed to having our children around indefinitely. We bandied about words like "furlough" like GI Jane and learned that lockdown was something that didn't just happen in Channel 5 prison dramas (albeit there were quite a large number of similarities - people in flats with no garden - this was us). By week two we were a cross between Fraulein Maria, Katniss Everdeen and Beyonce, armed with activities made entirely out of old curtains, and hand grenades magicked from plastic gloves, tiny hand sanitisers and the disseminated Lego Gringotts. In this 'new normal' we were not only destined to survive, but we would also learn how to play the ukulele. And not just that 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' song either.

2 The one where we educated our children on the 'knowledge'.

No, we're not talking about home-schooling. Don't take us back to that dark place yet. No. In Lockdown #1 we raised our children's local knowledge to genius level, by giving them a fallback career as a London Cabbie. As we traced, and retraced our steps on every nearby road, the houses revealed more and more fascinating details about our neighbours. In the beginning we were floored just with an unusually painted door, but, as it so often happens we wanted, needed more. So we looked beyond all that, and became obsessed on other personal choices our dearest neighbours have made - hideous curtains, giant TVs (no, not giant, GIANT) and...really random interior decor like cats being in the same place every day (were they in fact just dead, we wondered inside our heads). Or six violins hanging on walls, or framed photographs of Phil Collins. As we wandered aimlessly, just pleased to be using up our 'allotted outdoor' time, we soon discovered our favourite streets, sometimes because of the blossom on the trees, but more to spot FREE stuff. Some roads were of course, superior to others at this game - some had take-away your own tomato plants (that was huge for a weird week and a half). There were toys galore, books, jigsaw puzzles and games and many seemingly surplus household items. At one point word reached us of a woman with nearly 20 chairs crammed into her tiny kitchen because she just 'couldn't walk past a free seat'. Often was the time we walked, arms full of lego, chatting to our offspring, and discovered that instead of being the irritating money drains we sometimes accused them of, they were actually kind of cool after all, and especially good on long walks with the dog.

3 The one where we finally tried to buy a dog.

After years of promising the kids that one day, yes, we really would get a dog, we seized Lockdown #1 as an indisputable sign from the universe to finally get that mutt. But, boy oh boy, it was trickier than it looked. Which breed, maybe a doodle? But hang on are we allergic? Will that save on hoovering? There were close calls with dachshunds, who apparently only really work in bunglaows (it's the stairs you see). We were told that labradors can get funny hips, and noticed that some poodle crosses actually grow into mini dinosaurs and bark way too loudly. And the numbers game around how much exercise some dogs needed...when you don't have the time, the space or frankly the energy. And don't get us started on trying to get a rescue - honestly, how did that get SO hard! In the end, after all the research and desperate avoidance of anything with even with a whiff of puppy farm we end up on a waiting list for a puppy. Being on the waiting list was nearly as good as having the dog since the kids are ecstatic and it's not cost a bean. Besides, we reasoned, when this puppy eventually comes around in 2021, we would be living in a new safe future-world where we were on holiday pretty much all the time, and would therefore be spending most of the rest of our spare cash on dog-sitters and sangria. Of course, that didn't happen and we finally got the puppy for Covidmas where upon it proceeded to eat half of the tree chocolate ornaments and cost us £1,750 in vets fees in the first week home.

Why didn't anyone tell us that dogs are allergic to chocolate?

4. The one where we slow cooked and baked.

Once we realised that all we had to do was pay for a little culture, like being a commissioning editor for Sky Arts, we were on that sourdough baking thing like a posh loaf addict on a trolley dash in Gail's. We scoffed at the queues outside that and every other bakers, and got really quite chubby on our lovely loaves (which always seemed to disappear seconds after coming out of the oven). This lockdown we're refusing to bake and have gone back to 50-50 bread in a half-hearted attempt to limit our peanut butter on toast habit. No, it won't work. Pass the Sunpat.

5. The sun always shines in lockdown

Maybe it's our memory playing tricks on us, but wasn't it always sunny in the first lockdown? And doing our daily gentle walking exercise in a floaty dress and trainers felt, just a little Californian? As we wafted through the park, with our unexpectedly glowing children discussing what skills we were going to totally ace during this wonderful big pause, we really did feel like we were winning. Now, as we drag them out of bed half a hour after the school assembly has started on zoom, scrub the dog pee out of the living room carpet (again) and hastily apply lipstick to our dishevelled, hopeless, faces, we want that honey limbed Baywatch life back. Please? Not even kidding now.

6. We clapped for carers, fell for Joe Wicks and did group pub quizzes.

For those first ten (or forty??) Thursday nights, no-one was more enthusiastic than us. Joe Wicks with the kids every morning. Standing like grateful gate keepers at the front door, in time to applaud our magnificent NHS, we duly thrust saucepans and wooden spoons at our bemused children. One of the smaller ones was nearly concussed amidst the rising enthusiasm in week 3. Now, even the thought of lifting the wooden spoon out of it's drawer is... exhausting, And don't get us started on the pub quizzes because who knew how annoying our 'friends' would turn out to be when they are faced with a little competition. And, those tricky questions designed to amaze and dazzle? We hated them too. Not inspiring in the slightest. We hate everyone. Never again.

7. Homeschooling. How hard can it....

Don't. We can't. We're not ready. Ask us again later.

8. DIY projects and garden makeovers.

Now that we were at home 24/7, we very quickly realised that we had to do more than just rearrange our bookshelf back-drop intriguingly for zoom.

Bathrooms got be-jazzled, bedrooms got new bed-ding, and even the hallway got paint-ed (at long last). We spent the bulk of our money on exterior projects of course, if we had an outside. Painting front gates (after fixing them first - something we had been putting off since 2014). External alterations were suddenly quite essential of course due to us now basically living in Morocco. This also meant that it made perfect sense to invest some time into transforming our city patios/backyards and lawn patches into something more, well, internationally eclectic in flavour. Lanterns and outdoor rugs, carnival lights, a hot tub, and fire pits were strewn haphazardly among the dog poo. We even considered converting the shed to a Tiki hut that would serve as a playhouse by day and a working bar at night. Nights by now were starting at 4pm sharp by the way. Tick Tock Tick etc.

9. Homeschooling happened to us.

Okay, you got us. There's really no easy way to say this. But homeschooling was awful. It was dire, it hurt (nearly as much as childbirth), it was...well it was just very, very bad. The competition, the fear of failure, the compete lack of attention span. And that was just us. On the plus side we did learn a huge amount about what life being educated in school these days is actually like. And (don't tell the kids, but...) it's really, really boring. We didn't understand the maths. Not even the Year One stuff and were forced into a humilating (very non-feminist) submission that Daddy would be doing that because it was actually 'his thing'. Mummy would be doing the creative lessons. And PE, and History, and well, everything else. Except Science. If it's hard. Rotas were up on walls, and seethed over. And maybe tweaked. Not by us, but we heard things.

This time around, homeschooling will be loads easier, because it's not our first time at the rodeo.

We're just ... Going. To. Leave. That. There.

10. Basically we drank and sunbathed our way through Lockdown #1

Come on, hands up everyone at the back - we know what you did last lockdown and it was mainly gin, with some rose, and beer and prosecco and crisps. But today, as we gaze out forlornly at the now abandoned hot tubs surrounded by mud, we should cherish our younger deluded selves who spent that precious time sunbathing on trampolines and sipping, slurping and supping the nectar of forget-about-it juice as they looked forward to it all being over.

And now we're here. And what can we do? One thing we definitely should. not do is check your calendars. Nope, it's not January, it's not even (heaven help us) Dry January. And we're most certainly not trapped in the world's worst sequel. It's all just a mirage. Don't forget - we're all in Morocco now. Playing the ukulele and singing Climb Every Mountain with the Captain and all those absurdly obedient children.

And if that isn't quite reassuring enough, remember this: Michelle Pfeiffer not only survived Grease 2, the next film she did was Scarface with Al Pacino. In your face 2021!

For ideas of fun stuff to learn, make or watch with your children to fill some of the coming days (in between home-schooling and snacks) just head to our Lockdown Ideas hub. We will of course be adding to this regularly over the coming weeks but for now there is everything from how to learn magic tricks to where to find educational games online, virtual tours, and craft videos galore. We even have a video from Mindful Kids creator, Ciaran Ivanovic, on How to create a calm corner .

read on...

Ask the child psychologist - Dr Maryhan takes your questions

How to declutter your home this January

How comparing my twins exposed the fault in our Lockdown learning

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