Moments of Connection

This evening I got a call from my brother-in-law King Russell and my three-and-a-half-year-old niece Bean, who had an urgent question for me:

“Do you need help choosing what to put in your bath?”

My instant reply, ‘Of course!’.

This is one of a few small new routines we’ve created to stay connected over the last year.

A photograph of the surface of a bath, white froth and bubbles floats in clusters. From the centre of the foam a rainbow of bright colours spreads across the water of the bath.

They live close by and until March last year I saw Bean most days. Because her mum, Fat Sister, is a hospital doctor and I’m in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable group, we’ve gone from being in and out of each other homes all the time to not seeing each other at all.

I thought I’d share some of the things that are helping me and Bean to keep having a playful relationship and stay connected in case they’re useful for other people in similar situations.

Bath Buddies
What started simply as Bean choosing what I have in my bath has turned into some lovely, shared experiences. I bought us both some bath bombs and bubble bath so we could try the same ones together.

The Treasure Map Fairy
I’ve written before about the treasure maps I’ve made for Bean – I love drawing and Bean loves challenges so this has been a great way for us to play together. You can download templates of these maps here – some of them are blank so you can add your own clues, and some are quite general so they should work in a range of contexts.

Bedtime Stories
I love children’s books, particularly pop-ups and picture books and I’ve amassed a sizeable collection which Bean has always loved exploring. Over the last year we’ve continued to enjoy them together, with me doing bedtime stories on WhatsApp. Sometimes she looks at the pictures but often I describe the images so she can build pictures in her mind – my experiences of writing image descriptions for people with visual impairments has really come in handy!

The last 12 months have put pressure on most people, practically and emotionally, and I’ve found a new appreciation for small connections like receiving voice notes and sharing drawings.

For me, feeling connected is so much more than staying in touch – it’s about shared moments of emotion – joy as a bath bomb fizzes, the excitement of unfolding a treasure map, and the pleasure of revisiting a favourite story.

Whatever happens in the years to come, the pandemic has reinforced for me how vital it is for my wellbeing to feel connected to my friends, family and community. But it’s also helped me realise how small and varied these moments of connection can be. That’s a lesson I don’t want to forget.

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