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When I was first told that I was going to be furloughed, I felt anxious. Since leaving university I had always worked and only had time away to have my children. The schools were closing, and I knew that I would be home schooling my 7 and 9 year old but I felt like a big part of who I was would be missing. I made the decision to try and make the most of the situation, using it as a positive experience rather than something negative.

I wanted to get a routine for our days established as soon as possible. Our home school starts around the same time as school would and we work through what has been set. My children’s teachers have been brilliant and set lessons in English and Maths each morning and a mixture of other subjects for the afternoons. They are also on hand during the school day to advise and help where needed. I cannot say that it has been easy, however I have enjoyed teaching, learning new things and spending extra time with my girls. I have done science experiments, written poems, co-created dance pieces, discovered new artists and so much more. Go Noodle has become a fun way to learn and use our brains while exercising and we have loved finding out about different animals through Chester Zoos live keeper talks.

Our mental wellbeing was something that concerned me. Although the idea of slowing down and having more time to spend with your family sounds amazing and is a luxury usually reserved for holiday time, when it is thrust upon you and you are not allowed to see anybody other than those you live with it can take its toll. To enable us to talk about how we were feeling on a regular basis I set up a feelings jar where we can, once a week, all write down 5 things we are feeling and we can talk them through. We also tried some meditation exercises and although they didn’t work for us in the traditional sense, we had some laughs trying them which is therapy in itself.

Recently, a couple of colleagues opened my eyes to the wonderful world of podcasts. They have been a life saver during these times and provided some escapism for me. Whether it is cooking, comedy, lifestyle or chat, I have found they are a great way to de-stress and relax at the end of the day.

Anybody who knows me will know how much I love baking and cooking. Throughout lockdown I have baked a different type of bread each week. It’s something I used to do all the time before I had children and I have really enjoyed rediscovering it. We have been eating together every evening and I have been cooking most of our meals from scratch. It’s been great to have the time to find new recipes and eat together as a family every day.

I am really lucky that I have a lovely garden to spend time in and the weather has meant we can get outside and have the tranquillity of nature to calm and soothe us. The flowers are blooming, we have baby bluetits just hatched in the birdbox and the fruit and vegetables are growing well. I love going out first thing in the morning and just listening and breathing.

Stay safe everyone, Rachel x

Dance Development and Learning Manager

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