Lockdown: The kids are all right (aren’t they?)

I’ve said before how my kids have thrived in lockdown. They’ve stepped up and made themselves useful around the house and they’ve worked hard to stay fit and active. It also been lovely to see the bond between my two younger kids grow stronger. My kids are definitely all right. Or so I thought.

I went for a walk with my oldest friend the other day. Until then, I genuinely don’t think I’ve seen her at all in 2020. We had plans to meet up in March, but coronavirus put a stop to that. She is a single mum and has a demanding job working with young people. She is desperate for life to return safely to normal from this lockdown limbo we are currently in.

Yes, shops are open. Yes, some kids are back at school. We could even go to the pub if we wanted. But life is still far from normal.

‘It’s really hard for the kids,’ she said.

Then she asked: ‘How are yours coping?’

‘Oh they’re doing really well!’

And then I started talking about what my kids were doing. And hearing the words out loud from my own mouth made me realise that perhaps they weren’t doing quite as well as I’d thought.

I knew my eldest was finding it the hardest. He struggled more than everyone else with not being able to see other people. He struggled with the lack of routine from being furloughed for three months. He struggled with being in the house and the initial restriction on exercise once a day. Yet, ironically, he wasn’t keen to go out for a walk either on his own or with the rest of the family. So some days he didn’t exercise at all.

But the other two? They were, and are, FINE.

My daughter has developed an obsession with steps (walking and running, not the 90s band). When she was at school, she was only doing about 8,000 steps a day (partly because they’re not allowed to wear watches at ballet, so those steps don’t get recorded) and she was fine with that. In lockdown, she started going for long walks – as a way to relieve the boredom and also to make the exercise count. When you’re only allowed to exercise once a day, there’s no point only going out for 10 minutes. Obviously we have all been able to exercise multiple times a day for a while now and my daughter’s steps have crept up. She hit 18,000 a couple of times. So then she wanted to hit 18,000 all the time. Or 19,000. Or more.

Some days in the evenings she’s moaning: ‘But I’ve only done 14,000 steps today!’.

If nobody will go for a walk with her, she will go on her own, just to get her steps up. But by anyone’s standards, 14,000 steps is plenty.

As my friend said: ‘That’s a form of anxiety in itself’.

And, as I heard myself saying the words, I knew it was too.

Son, Running, Sprinting, 366, Kids, Lockdown


My son has been fine with missing his GCSEs. He’s been fine with his rugby tour (which he should be on right now) being rescheduled for next year. He’s even been fine with all of the athletics competitions that have been cancelled.

But he has become obsessed with the fact that he can’t currently jump in a sandpit. Government rules now say people can do athletics training in small groups. Stadiums are allowed to open. But our local stadium hasn’t opened, due to flooding.

My boy has been so patient until now. He’s been sprinting and doing exercise routines to keep strong. He’s been using resistance bands. He’s been doing all he can, apart from jumping in a sandpit.

After his season was cut short by fracturing his pelvis last year, he feels that the world is against him. He desperately wants to train, to compete and to prove himself. He was convinced he could jump 7 metres this year (a HUGE achievement), but how can he jump 7 metres if he can’t access a sandpit?

As part of his obsession with staying fit and ready for training, he has been eating very healthily and carefully. Even without talking to my friend, I was starting to wonder whether his eating healthily was becoming unhealthy. Sometimes I don’t think he actually eats enough to really fuel his body for the exercise he’s doing. (He’s also doing the 18,000 steps with my daughter.)

At just before 5pm, it’s not unusual for him to be lying on the floor complaining that he’s tired. I’ve seen him close to the edge when the bread runs out at lunchtime. I know that he’s just hungry.

And that’s not healthy, is it?

I’m encouraging my son to eat a bit more, especially when he has been exercising or is about to exercise. And I’m telling my daughter that it doesn’t matter if she ‘only’ does 14,000 steps sometimes.

I thought my kids were doing well with lockdown and they are on the whole. But I also realise that, while life isn’t normal, they have become fixated on things which they wouldn’t have time to obsess over under normal circumstance.

If you think your kids are all right, stop and take a step back. Talk to someone about them, hear your own voice out loud, then ask yourself – are my kids really all right?

Lockdown, Has lockdown ended, Kids


Author: Sarah Mummy

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    • Thanks very much. I still think that on the whole they have coped remarkably well – we all have. If anyone had told us at the start of the year that we would basically be stuck at home for three months, I don’t think I could have coped with the thought. But I do now see that their endless exercising isn’t necessarily the good thing that I thought it was.

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  1. I think it’s such a difficult time for all of us that it is probably underplaying it to say that anybody is really coping. We all just have our own ways of displaying it. I can understand why your son must be so frustrated about the jumping and why you must be so worried about him not eating properly, it’s such a difficult balance between being eating healthy and becoming unhealthy by not eating. enough.

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    • Thanks very much. It is a difficult time and I think I’d underestimated the effect it was having on my kids. My son forever lives in hope that his jumping will be back, but increasingly it’s looking like he will only have the winter and an indoor season to look forward to. Every time he eats something ‘bad’ I have a little inward cheer as he is definitely overthinking his eating at the moment. X

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  2. I think N’s fine too. He generally will talk about things, but I worry that he’s spending less time outside than he was at the start (the weather hasn’t helped), he doesn’t want to spend all the time on the farm, he’d rather stay in on playing games on the laptop or xbon. With me working it’s hard to drag him outside (and tbh I’m lazy and would rather not go out either, as I’ve got other non screen hobbies to do. I’m also worried about his lack of missing his peers. He was seeing his cousin, but since he’s been back at school I don’t think they’ve seen each other. And he says he’s not fussed about seeing friends. I’m relieved he’s back at tennis tomorrow and will be twice a week plus potentially at the club for junior hitting sessions if they happen and the weather plays ball. It’ll be good for both of us to get out, although I think he’ll moan about having to wear a glove on his spare hand (how on earth the kids are going to manage to keep a glove on at their size I’ve no idea. Might take a lambing glove which I know will fit, and a hair band to tie round it to keep it on if we have to use one from the coach.

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    • My younger two haven’t been bothered about not seeing their friends either. I think my son has seen friends three times and my daughter has seen one friend once. It’s good that N can get back to tennis soon. I live in hope that my kids can get back to their activities soon.

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  3. The best thing though is that you are aware. I’m sure we are all trying to get through this strange time in our own ways. Ethan is really struggling and he shoes it. Little E needed to get back to school and that has really helped her. I’m keeping busy to stop myself thinking about Darren’s job, the will he/won’t he go back is driving me insane. It’s funny the things you do without thinking to ‘cope’. Lets hope for some normality soon x

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    • We definitely need some normality! So sorry to hear that Ethan is struggling and I’m glad school is working out well for Little E. that must be a real worry not knowing about Darren’s job. x

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  4. Oh gosh! What a worry with your kids. 14,000 steps is amazing! I’m sure I sometimes don’t do that in a week.
    We’ve only realised this past week how lonely my youngest has been. Yes she’s got us but after seeing her friend on Monday she had that bit of sparkle back. She has missed her friends and we didn’t realise how much. x

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    • Sorry to hear that your youngest has been missing her friends. How lovely that’s she got a bit of her sparkle back now. 14,000 steps is a pretty good total for a day, but my daughter still doesn’t think it’s enough! x

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  5. Wow 14,000 is amazing she is one focussed young lady isn’t she? It really is hard going when they don’t have the routine, I think they need xx

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    • She’s very focused! My son is too. He has a lot of exercise routines going on to keep himself in shape for the athletic season. It is hard without the routine. It was OK for a while, but they need it now. x

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  6. Love this post Sarah. Very telling comment by your friend about the 8,000 steps being a form of anxiety. I’m pretty sure the issues your children have been experiencing will pass pretty swiftly, but lockdown has affected us all. It’s natural for our children to be behaving slightly differently. I’m yet to meet a parent whose children don’t have disturbed sleep for instance.

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    • Thanks very much. It’s amazing how easy it is to miss these things when you see them every day, and especially because exercise is always viewed as a very positive thing. Hopefully life will be much more normal by the time they go back to school in September.

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  7. See I wouldn’t say they aren’t coping, they are just focussed on something different than usual.
    Maybe because I am the same as your daughter and I have been focused on my steps (I will have hit my target for 100 days on Friday) and I am competitive and even after 40,000 steps on Sunday I was trying to move more to beat this other person in the challenge. Have you talked to your children about how they are feeling?

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    • I think there is a fine line between being ‘healthy’ and obsession and knowing where to stop or slow down. Being competitive is good as a motivator, but it can also lead to injury and exhaustion. After 40,000 steps, I would definitely think I’d done enough! The only reason I would keep moving would be to stop seizing up, but I wouldn’t be doing any more than moving around the house gently.
      I’ve talked to my son about making sure he eats and drinks enough and to my daughter about not needing to do 18,000 steps a day, every single day. My son can see that my daughter is obsessing over her steps too.

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