Picture the scene if you can: you are a child in care, and for whatever reason you cannot stay at the place you have called home for the past year (or two, or longer). You are meeting new people for maybe the first time, or perhaps the second or third. You don’t know what to expect, what the food is going to be like, what the rules are, how comfortable the bed is going to be. It all sounds quite scary doesn’t it? Now imagine that all this is going on, and that your school is closed…and that you can’t see your friends, your family, that you can’t go outside when you want to – that you can only go out for exercise once a day.

Can you imagine how that must feel? That is the situation for some children and young people in our current climate. There are foster carers up and down the country who are experiencing this at the moment – and it isn’t easy, because the young people don’t have the support that they would have had from different sources. It isn’t all doom and gloom though, as such a change is an ideal opportunity for bonding and building attachment with their new family.

Many of you may be thinking that you have loads of time on your hands now that you can’t go out. Don’t be fooled! You have the same time as you had before, but maybe you are finding a different way to fill it (just ask me how I know). Since September I have had a change in the pace of life, which resulted in me having more time at home. During that time I managed to quilt 7 quilts for Q4CL (having pieced 5 of them earlier in the year), and finish some Project Linus quilts, and also make Christmas presents. One of my resolutions this year was to finish more projects that I had started, and not to start any more. I’ve managed one or two – my Project Linus quilts have been pieced at our Project Linus days, and I’ve brought them home to layer and baste, but it doesn’t feel like I’ve really managed to achieve much yet. I’ve done a few hand embroidery blocks for my Splendid Sampler quilt (I started that in 2017), I pieced the top of The Edwardian House (embroidery started in 2013), and of course I’ve done my Stonehenge challenge. I’ve found my Girly Girl quilt (started in 2012 or 2013 – it was a BOM from Australia), and am attempting to get that finished; I’ve done all the applique using the back basting method, and that is how I want to do all of it – including a scalloped border. I’ve finished a c2c (Corner to Corner) crocheted blanket that I was doing on longer car journeys and during pantomime rehearsals and performances. Two weeks ago I decided to piece a kit that I had cut and taken along to the Bloggerati retreat last November – I’m still piecing it now…(NB – I started to write this blog soon after the lockdown started, and now, editing it two weeks later, the kit top has been pieced, but needs to be pressed).

Since writing about this, it has not changed, it is still waiting to be pressed. Trying to baste quilts when people are in the house  is not really an option…

With so much apparent time on our hands it is easy to think about leaving something to do another day. It does feel good to finish things (and no, I don’t (just) mean the bottles in the house – have you seen that post going around? You know, the one where a doctor or psychologist recommends finishing things to help you feel good…and the bottles of wine, beer, rum, vodka, gin, and bars of chocolate later… – well, you can guess the rest), but at this time the normal rules have changed. It is a time to be kind to ourselves (which we should do all of the time). If you are a parent with children at home – play games with them, let them watch TV, read books – don’t feel like you have to be teaching them or getting them to do the school work that has been sent home; they need you to be calm and emotionally and physically available to them. Certainly do some little games that help with numbers and letters if you can…we’ve got a Snack Menu Price List – and the prices will change over time (once a teacher…and one with a laminator…!) – to help with coin recognition, adding things up, working out the value of items. Play hangman, scrabble, I Spy – great for letters and spelling; do a jigsaw, play with Lego, drawing – perhaps children and young people could design a quilt. This has just made me remember about my I-Spy quilt – I’ve got numbers at the top and bottom, and letters down the side (lower case and upper case) – we’re going to get this out later now.

Where am I going with all this? It feels a little like I’ve been preparing for this time since September; I’ve not had the inclination or funds to go out and do lots, so I’ve found other ways to keep myself occupied. Two hours before the lockdown announcement (Monday 23rd March) our situation changed, which means I can’t really spend all day every day crafting. It is fine – I will find time to do things for myself; I’ve learned how to play UNO, and we’ve played Chase the Lady – and we can spend time playing – doing those things we thought we would like to do but haven’t got the time for. There is the time to cook and bake and play and relax. Oh, and if need be, to break the rules that you set for yourself previously – I started a new crocheted blanket last night…another c2c…and now I remember that I thought about using the yarn to do a double crochet or half treble pattern instead…Never mind – perhaps I’ll stop writing now, and get down to the sewing room instead to do more on the quilt kit, then perhaps I’ll get round to quilting the two quilts I basted several weeks ago! I’d like to think that my stash will be smaller by the end of all this, but I’m not sure. I am trying to get through it…honestly!

A new crochet project started. Middle of May and it has grown a lot, but is not yet finished.

P.S. Thinking about my stash – a friend visited me two weeks ago, (14th March) and very kindly brought round some fabric that she had been given…so there really is little chance of me running out!

P.P.S. Editing and uploading this blog two weeks on from when I wrote it, I haven’t managed to use any more of my stash. I have spent time preparing resources, and finding ways to practise and reinforce number recognition with the help of various games and sets of cards. I’ve had some lovely Google Hangouts conversations and video calls with my grandchildren; one of them wrote that they couldn’t wait for me and Grandad to teach them, and today I did a video call Maths lesson with one of them, and afterwards he told his dad that he now knows his two times table. Am I rising to this challenge? Yes, I am – I’m finding things to do, and challenging myself to help others, and learning new things myself.

P.P.P.S. Obviously getting blogs written and submitted at the moment is taking some time for me! This third postscript is being written on the day when we can go out for exercise more than once a day. This is what happens when I can’t spend all day sewing – I need to sew in the evening, which is also the time when I get to the computer. A final photo for you all – and it comes with a health warning – you will see why!

This could be termed a trust exercise…it is what happens when you allow a young person to use their face paints on you! Fun was had by all!

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