COLUMN | Playgrounds… we missed you

By Danielle Galvin

I’ve been honest about the fact I’ve found the second lockdown much more difficult, I’ve said it to pretty much anyone who would listen.

With all of the novelties of the first lockdown well and truly gone, I genuinely struggled to find much to be positive about.

So when the news came through that playgrounds would re-open, I was happy about it. Happy, but not ecstatic.

Like many parents I worried they’d be a bit of a breeding ground for bugs, and they’d be packed with cooped up parents and kids who’d been longing for the day they could hit the swings again.

Well I was partly right about that – but thankfully there’s playgrounds around that don’t seem as popular that my kids enjoy.

I admit watching them play and frolic at the playground for the first time, and literally bolt to get to the slide, brought tears to my eyes.

It’s been a stark reminder to me that sometimes even the simplest of things, like going to the park with your kids, can bring such joy. And that there’s truly some beauty in the mundane. Who would have thought?

But there’s been something else remarkable that I didn’t expect since playgrounds re-opened.

My normally shy pre-schooler, who can sometimes appear a little stand-offish, has been harnessing every opportunity to play with new friends she’s meeting at the playground.

I’ve said it from day one – kids are resilient but they have been affected by this most stressful year. My daughter has been acutely aware of all that she’s missed out on. So when she got the chance to play with kids she’d never met, she took it and ran with it.

It was truly wonderful to hear her find her voice, to see her come out of her shell and not wait in the wings for someone to include her. She was actively seeking out other kids – something I’ve seen her do only rarely before.

I read a quote about 2020 being just a chapter in our lives, not the entire story. That’s an important message.

So even though this year has been one most of us would like to forget, I’ve been reminded that it’s not all bad. And if you look hard enough, you’ll be able to see some of the good.

A little bit of light in the darkness.

Playgrounds open, staged return to school for some