A recent meeting in my village with a new mum out walking with her brand-new baby in the sunshine, has prompted me to wonder about those I might not have considered yet during these times. Those people experiencing huge changes and managing different realities to the previously held expectations for summer 2020.
What has it been like for new parents at this time of necessary self-isolation and social distancing?
I remember so clearly the bubble of new-parenthood, the joy at retreating into the new family unit - hours spent gazing and getting to know each other - days blending into themselves and hours passing - time re-framing itself into periods of crazed activity and quiet reflection.
I also remember how much reassurance i needed. I needed my mum close by for those 4am phone calls and panic requests for a visit. I wonder how I would have coped without being able to hand over my toddler or babies (I had twins) for a moment of respite, or to share in the joy of their amazing arrival.
What would it be like for a baby to be held only by their parents for the first few months of their lives?
How will the increased anxiety of this time affect parent-baby attachment? Secure attachment develops from a parent's ability to manage stress, respond to their baby’s cues, and successfully soothe the infant. An interactive, non-verbal, emotional exchange that allows a baby to feel understood and safe. These have been such isolating and challenging times for so many of us. Feeling safe, connected, and nurtured personally has been more difficult than ever. I am left worried that the repercussions of this will ripple on for a while.
What would it be like to have deal with all these issues and have a child that was born different? Would the enforced isolation be an added strain or might it, more positively, be a way of having the necessary space to get your head round it all? Could the fact that everyone is currently isolated mean that other new parents will learn things that might change the future for a generation of new babies? Might parents be united in their experience of now?
We are all having to reflect and shape a sense of what the future might look like? Can we take this opportunity to prioritise inclusion, equal opportunity, and access? Might we become more connected through our experience of this new, different time.
Music making and singing can be a vital support in Early Years. As musicians and educators, we need to be innovators, we need to find new ways of working with integrity, and reflect honestly on what we offer. We need to respond to needs and not race to fill a gap. We need to talk to parents, young children, and settings. We need to listen.
We must keep finding ways to offer support, to notice those voices that are quiet.
Written by Rachel Thame, Published by Dom Palfreman