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Heather’s Story: eating together as a family as lockdown restrictions ease

09 April 2021

With the children back at school and with further changes to lockdown restrictions planned for the next few weeks, there is lots of talk of getting back to normal, of meeting with friends and family, and for many the most important thing of all – finally giving loved ones a hug. But among feelings of joy that such changes are on the way, many are experiencing a mix of emotions 

Mum of 2 young children, Heather, reflects on how cooking and eating together remain at the heart of her family life, despite all the changes taking place.

We’ve had our two small children home much more than usual over the past year, through all of lockdown one and when their nursery ‘bubbles’ have burst, whilst isolating and when poorly. I’m glad that their lives have largely been more normal in recent weeks. Our son’s particularly enjoyed meeting up again with his little friends, and it’s certainly given them both more structure to their day. As both my husband and I have been working from home, it’s also a bit of a relief when they’re at nursery as we’ve been able to concentrate 100% on work, without any distractions. It has certainly been challenging juggling work and two small children. 

But whilst they’re at nursery we find we miss having them around with us all day – no fun games or baking together during the day. No eating all our meals together during the week as the children are eating at nursery. No cuddles during the day. The weekends have therefore again taken on increased significance as family time. My husband and I take it in turns to have a lie-in at the weekends – and when it’s my turn to have a lie-in, it’s been lovely hearing the children and my husband making a yummy breakfast for us all to enjoy together!

The weekends have therefore again taken on increased significance as family time.”

See our blog “Why cooking and eating together is important“.

And when my son was off colour and home from nursery the other day it felt a bit of a treat having him home again, and we enjoyed making some tasty biscuits together (albeit in between work calls!). Since the children have been back at nursery I have at times found myself thinking ‘why bother when thinking of what to cook during the week as it’s just been for me and my husband – and by the time the children are in bed it’s been 7pm before we even think about what to make and we’re tired. I’ve found myself turning to favourites like kidney bean curry – tried and tested recipes that remind me of happy times traveling in India and eating curry with my flatmates in my student days. Tasty but quick recipes for busy lockdown days. Having the whole family together again at the weekend feels like a bit of an occasion and a more leisurely experience – and I’m happy to take the time to make my son’s favourites like a yummy jam sponge cake. 

I think with all the changes coming up it’ll be important to take things slowly – and not to feeunder pressure to rush out and do everything all at once. For instance, during lockdown we’ve been shopping as little as possible – buying, portioning and freezing meat from the market for use over a few weeks. In fact, I’d say we’ve eaten less meat and more vegetables since lockdown started. I can’t see that our shopping habits will change much initially – I think it’ll take me a while to get used to being able to ‘shop around’. 

We have a big extended family and we enjoy hosting family members from a wide geographical area – getting together and chatting over a lovely meal like a big roast dinner or homemade pies is something we’ve all missed terribly – although I do feel a bit apprehensive about how I’d now cope preparing a complicated meal for 15 people with different food preferences and allergies! I’m a bit out of practice. So, while I can’t wait for things to ‘go back to normal’ – to have all the family round again, to travel further afield, and to see friends – until then, I’ll try not to stress about the future, but instead will take each day as it comes. And continue cooking and eating together as a family.

If you’d like to find out more about our food programmes and get inspired by other families’ food stories and recipes, you can find more blogs here.