Remember writing your first diary? The content won’t be the same these days, but Morag Turner looks at ways to keep a family lockdown journal.
Right now we are all longing to return to normal life and for kids to get back to school. Real school. But a few months down the line we may want to reflect and remember the experience of this life changing and significant moment in history. Diary writing or journaling has also been recommended as being meditative and mindful, and who doesn’t need some of that in their lives right now. Like a lot of self-care suggestions, keeping a diary may seem like another task to add to the long list of things to do. But like yoga, meditation, running or any of the other things we make time for, this could be another routine you’re grateful for in a couple of months.
Adding children to the mix could also make this a fun family project, and perhaps get them using those imaginations and perhaps picking up a pencil to practise their handwriting. The journal could be one of Smythson’s finest (see below), a large scrapbook that you write and stick items in or it could be a box that you put objects in too. There are no rules here and the more creative the better.
Write it down
The most obvious way to recording your lockdown is by writing about it. Every member of the family can jot down what they have being doing and how they are feeling. Parents can takes notes for little ones. This can include what you did each day and how your new routine was formed. From what games you all enjoyed playing together and how you got your daily exercise in, to FaceTime calls with grandparents and Zoom quizzes with friends.
Make a note of all the things you did, especially the things that are new during this time. Even if this is just a few lines every other day, it will build up a picture of how your family spent their days. Maybe everyone gets a page or maybe it’s a page per day that you all add a few lines to. There are no rules so you decide.
Make it about feelings as much as activities
This is frightening, worrying and difficult time for everyone – kids included – as we adjust to our new reality and wonder what the future will hold. Many people are concerned about their health and the risk of catching Coronavirus. And many are dealing with grief.
But there can be pockets of positive emotions and happiness without the distractions of the outside world and our usual busy schedules. On a daily, even hourly basis how we feel can change. Children are getting used to their new routine and home schooling timetables. It can be frustrating and challenging for kids and for parents.
These are the kinds of things to write about it your journal. Times when each of you felt good and also when you really struggled and why you think that is. Not only will it form part of your memories when you look back, it may also be a very useful way of everyone communicating how they are feeling and coping. Use the journal as a mechanism for openness and resolving problems. It might help you to see the lockdown from your children’s perspective.
Take photos and print them off
A visual record is just as good as a written one. Take snaps of all the things you get up and print them out. If you bake a cake, build a fort out of sheets or create play do masterpiece then take a photo of it. Include yourselves and your kids as much as possible.
We are all chatting with family and friends online so take pics or screen grabs of these Zoom and FaceTime conversations. These human interactions are a vital part of staying positive and making sense of our current situation and a reminder of why it is necessary.
Make videos too. Keep them on a memory stick that can be stuck into your scrap book or places in a box. Ask the kids take their own pics and make films too. Maybe even video diaries for older children.
Draw pictures too. Little kids will love doing this. Keep all little doodles and stick them in.
Get grandparents involved
Missing relatives you haven’t seen for a while? Ask other family members or even friends to contribute. Ask them to email over their thoughts or write them down and pop them in the post. Older relations will be having a different time to younger ones and it’s great to have their input too. Or you could ask them to write down some family history to add into the mix.
Remember things unique to lockdown
There are certain things we are all doing now that are unique to this time. Clapping for Carers every Thursday night in recognition of our amazing key workers is one of them. Make a video and take photos of your family doing this. It’s most probably not something that will happen ever again. Likewise the drawings of rainbows that children are putting up in windows. But there are also other changes to our everyday lives such as home haircuts and zoom calls that are new to us. Make a specific note of these and their significance.
Keep items and documents that relate to this time
In years gone by this would include newspaper cuttings, but if you don’t get an actual paper then you could print out significant pieces from newspapers websites or jot down headlines and what they might mean.
Keep any letters and cards that you receive or government correspondence like the letter Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote to all households a few weeks back explaining the need for the lockdown. These are all part of our current experience, contribute to how we feel during it and also how we will feel as we hopefully start to move back towards some form or normal life in the coming weeks and months.
This is a historical document for the future
Right now this is a fun way for your family record the experience of lockdown and to express the emotions it brings. But in future this journal will become not just a family heirloom, but also a historical document of one of the most significant events in recent history. Our grandchildren will study this at school in the way we did the First and Second World Wars. It will be fascinating for future generations to delve into family life during this time and discover what it was really like for those living through it, as we did the diaries kept by soldiers and child evacuees in the 1940s.
By creating a journal you will not only helping your own family to remember a time that reshaped the world, but also help those in years to come have a greater understanding of what the Coronavirus meant to real people.
Some great places to find journals: