What. A. Year.
23 March marks the anniversary of the first UK lockdown, a period that saw unprecedented disruption to family life. Could anyone have imagined that picnics might be outlawed? That schools and nurseries would close for months on end? That visiting a playground could land you a fine, or that holding a playdate would become socially irresponsible? Who would have ever dreamed that hugging your grandchildren might be deemed dangerous and illegal?
Such has been the state of society for large chunks of the past year. We’ve all suffered, but we’ve also grown in ways we might not have expected. At Kidadl, the restricted life sparked plenty of creativity, and we published hundreds of articles to help families through the difficult times. Here are 15 of the best, which are still relevant to families today.
1. The Lockdown Commute
The early days of lockdown shattered old routines and plunged us into a new, more limited way of living. To help Kidadlrs cope, we created this handy guide to the lockdown commute, in the style of a London tube map - from checking on the banana bread to doing the Joe Wicks PE lesson.
2. Funny Lockdown Moments That Happen To Every Family
"Daaad. Can you come and wipe my bottom please!?!," screamed in repetition while you're having a Zoom meeting with the boss. Just one of the 11 things that happened to us all in lockdown… sometimes every day.
3. 30 Ideas For Lockdown Projects
Children cannot live by Netflix alone. Trapped indoors for weeks on end, most families sought out more creative ways to keep children entertained. The craft box became the centre of the household, and we published dozens of articles showing how to make the most of it. The 30 best are rounded up in this master list, which includes such diverse projects as making your own beach, hosting your own Olympics and an ultimate origami list.
4. TARDIS Cake? Gruffalo Cake?
Baking was the other great hobby of lockdown. Such was the demand for flour in the early days that many supermarkets had empty shelves. No flour, no problem with our guide to flour-less baking. As supply chains adjusted to the new normal, we all got a bit more creative. Caterpillar cakes, Scooby Doo cakes… even an antigravity cake. They’re all here in this guide to novelty cake making.
5. What Has Homeschooling Taught You?
One of the biggest shocks to the system was the closure of schools for long periods. Many parents found themselves having to stand in as assistant teachers, helping their children navigate through school work set remotely. It’s safe to say that we all found this challenging, but there were upsides too. We asked parents what they’d learnt from the experience. Some acquired a greater appreciation of the work teachers do, while others learned new facts that they’d either forgotten or completely missed in their own schooling. Many of us picked up a whole new vocabulary, from subitising, to phonemes to modal verbs.
6. Homeschooling: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
We dug a little deeper into parents’ experience of homeschooling. The many good experiences included more 1-to-1 education, more quality time with the kids, better appreciation of the education system and, of course, no more school run. The bad side included technology problems, juggling work and schooling, and the lack of classmates.
7. Your Homeschooling ABC
And finally on this topic we summed everything up in an ABC rhyme.
A is awake; another “school” day,
B is for breakfast, but not to delay
C is for classroom (wherever you’re able)
D is for desk (the dining room table)...
8. Making Masks For Toys? Yay Or Nay?
In another light-hearted moment, and at the behest of a four-year-old daughter, we looked at ways to provide face masks for favourite toys. As well as a bit of fun, the exercise also provided a useful opportunity to talk to children about the pandemic, and why masks were necessary (and probably will be for some time yet).
9. Mini Outdoor Adventures You Can Do In Lockdown
The most restrictive periods of lockdown prevented us from going outdoors unless it was for exercise. Sedentary activities like picnics and even bird watching were discouraged. To that end, we pulled together some mini outdoor adventures that families can enjoy while going for a daily walk, or even in the garden. Although designed for lockdown, these activities would be fun to do at any time.
10. No Garden? Try These Activities To Bring Outdoor Play Inside
Many families - my own included - are not lucky enough to have a garden. Even if you do, the weather can make it unusable for much of winter. But we can still have immense fun by recreating outdoor activities inside. This article includes such wheezes as indoor barbecues, camping, picnics and obstacle courses.
11. How To See Wildlife Without Leaving Your Home
If lockdown restrictions and off-putting winter weather mean you can’t get out into nature, then why not attract nature to you? That was the premise of this article, which details ways to spot wildlife without leaving your home. True story: a queen bumble bee landed on the carpet beside me as I was typing these words!
12. Reasons To Be Thankful
With so much uncertainty, upheaval and distress in the world, it was good sometimes to be reminded of the positive sides of life that most of us are lucky enough to share. Yes, the pandemic has been horrendous, but we’re also lucky to live at a time when medical science can develop vaccines so quickly, and when most homes have access to video technology for education and catching up with friends and family. Had this pandemic struck 20 years ago, things would have been very different. This article was originally written to coincide with Thanksgiving, but its messages are still relevant today.
13. Who To Talk To If Your Child Needs Help With Mental Health
At the same time, we can’t ignore the huge toll the pandemic has had on mental health. Children have been especially hit by the isolation and disruption to education. We put together an article of useful links for parents whose children may need a helping hand.
14. How To Save Memories Of Lockdown Life
Right now, it might feel like the past year is one you’d want to put behind you, and move quickly back towards normal times. But let’s think ahead, two, three or four decades into the future. The past year has been the most disruptive in (most people’s) living memory. It is one of those rare periods we’ll be talking about for the rest of our lives. One day, your great-grandchildren might be asking you about these times for a school project. Do everything you can to preserve the memories - good and bad. Your future self will thank you. To that end, we put together an article on how to save memories of lockdown life. Ideas include time capsules, scrap books and diaries, but also craft and video projects.
15. What Are You Most Looking Forward To Doing Again?
And finally, the big “When this is all over…”. We asked Kidadlers to let us know what they most wanted to do again. Many of the answers were as you’d expect -- hug family members or take a long holiday. But we also miss the smaller things like a trip to a restaurant while a babysitter looks after the kids. Let’s hope such days are not too far away now.
See Also: You may also enjoy browsing the best Kidadl articles of 2020, which rounds up many of the best creative features not highlighted in this article.
Although originally from the Midlands, and trained as a biochemist, Matt has somehow found himself writing about London for a living. He's a former editor and long-time contributor to Londonist.com and has written several books about the capital. He's also the father of two preschoolers.