Lockdown Reflections from Down Under

 In The DS Advocate

Ingerlise Svaleng and Daniel Verguizas live in sunny Sydney with their two girls, Maia (4) and Lola (2). After seven weeks in self-isolation, the girls are now back in daycare/preschool with life easing back into normal. While the best word to describe this is a big fat “YAAAAY”, here Ingerlise shares her three happy lessons from life in lockdown.

1. TUNE INTO THE SEASON, WHATEVER IT IS. Maia is a social butterfly that loves showering her friends with hugs and high fives, but with her little sister at home “isolation” felt more like a party of two! Yes, she missed her preschool so much that she swapped her bedtime storybook for her preschool book telling us the names of her friends and teachers on repeat, every single night… But slowing down also brought a new level of calmness to her already zen nature; a sense of self-confidence and presence that made me sit up straight and pay attention. Watching her flourish while the rest of the world stood still reminded me of the way I grew up in the Arctic part of Norway, where I spent my summer days under the midnight sun (yep, 24/7!) and winter in perpetual darkness. The seasons shaped my upbringing: Put simply – we partied in summer, chilled in autumn, slowed down and recharged in winter and came to life again in spring. One of the best things about life Down Under is that you can enjoy the outdoors all year round, yet I find that means it’s also harder to hit the pause button. It’s been beautiful to see how Maia thrives with life in the slow lane, and a reminder for me to bring back the seasonal approach of living to my new home in Australia. Which… brings me to my next learning!

2. NATURE IS KING. We live in a beautiful part of Sydney right on the border of a national park, so we’ve had a huge backyard to play in during lockdown. Both mine and Dan’s work slowed down overnight as the economy went into turmoil. This was of course really, really stressful, but we quickly realised that if there was ever a time where we simply have no say in what happens, it’s right now. So – we refocused and decided to make the most out of what we could control, namely how we spent our days. Enter: Nature! We took the girls hiking in the bush most days which was an amazing way to stay sane, fit and inspired. We ran up and down uneven paths, balanced on tree logs, climbed trees, listened to the birds, ate lunch amongst the trees and tested our reflexes by trying to catch frogs. The only one who managed to do it was… Maia!

3. PLAY TRULY IS THERAPY. Maia absolutely adores her therapists, but as she doesn’t love following instructions at the best of times (I mean, who does?!), zoom was either going to be a complete disaster or a hit. Turns out, it was both! With OT we had to improvise, and instead of stressful zooms that was more like a parent bootcamp and lesson in patience, we invited our OT to do outdoor sessions in a remote park… Which worked so well that we think we’ll keep doing it! Speech via zoom, on the other hand, was a big hit. This coincided with a huge boost in Maia’s spoken language, which in all honesty is all courtesy of Maia and has nothing to do with the rest of us. My guess is that the slower pace of everyday life gave her the space to simply PLAY with language by herself with zero well-intended pressure from her surroundings. I loved witnessing how unstructured, free and uninterrupted play truly is the best therapy for our girl – and the most rewarding for our little family!

You can follow IngerLise here: https://www.facebook.com/ingerlise.svaleng

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