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  • Writer's pictureBeth Nunn

The New Normal

Teenagers are heading back to school, walking with groups of friends and wearing masks. It strikes us at PIE that this is a pretty neat metaphor for what lots of people are calling 'the new normal'. Something so familiar and yet with new restrictions and changes.

Now, let's be frank, very little of what most of us are going through right now is 'normal'; we are mainly just using our best coping strategies to move forward in some way -any way - that suits our needs and those of our families, communities, employers or whoever else you may answer to! And it's not easy.

I'm Anna and September has seen a return to work for me at PIE after six months of furlough. What is this I see before me? Work? I have to answer to my boss again? What about the 3 hours of Paw Patrol I'm supposed to watch today? I'm sure that I am not the only parent who has felt like this in the last couple of weeks as we have all started to nervously edge into this 'new normal'.

Returning to work is a double edged sword for me. I have a much deteriorated attention span since spending the last 6 months planning and managing both 10 minute learning activities and long stretches in the garden with my children. Somewhere out there is my ability to focus and get those brain cogs moving again.

On the flip side I am excited to get back into it; to use those cogs for something other than providing snacks and deciding which games will cause the fewest arguments... I can't wait to get them oiled and moving again, although the jury may still be out on how quickly I will be able to start functioning at my normal work capacity!

In the meantime my husband now works in the loft. This is new in lots of ways. Yes, it is a nice change from waving him off to a 'day in the office', but I know for a fact he does not want to discuss last night's football with me and he misses that sort of incidental contact with people that he's not related or married to. But it's starting to feel normal in that unfamiliar way that so many things are.

The icing on this cake is that, within our 'new normal' both my children have started new adventures, one in Year One and one at Preschool. Until now it's gone smoothly (parental anxiety, staggered drop offs and sanitiser included). Fingers crossed it may continue and for now we can enjoy the cake for what it is: slightly different to what we ordered, but tasty all the same.

What all this means is that, even in our adulthood, we are having to adapt and rebuild our lives and what we mean by normal. If you've done any work with PIE you will know we are fully committed to building resilience and confidence to adapt, and those skills are invaluable when life shows us again and again that what we thought was 'normal' can so easily change. There are so many stories about people dealing with extraordinary occurrences, in extraordinary circumstances in extraordinary ways, we all have that potential to succeed. Whilst we battle the uncertainty of what this academic year holds for ourselves, and the young people who we support, we must keep this in mind.

So, I was supposed to leave it there, with you all thinking about cake. I'd written a lovely metaphor about it with crumbs and everything...

But in a very '2020' twist of fate, things have changed since I finished the first draft of this blog last night. I'm writing this from self-isolation after my son got a snotty nose, my husband developed a fever and I got a scratchy throat. All of us back at home. Face-palms all round. No tests to be found. Just another opportunity to flex those adaptability muscles and further proof that we really never know what the future holds!?

Here's to the new normal. And here's to helping support young people prepare for whatever the next new normal is.

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