University of Brighton Alumni Association


A newly blended family in lockdown

The Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement Office’s Marnie Middlemiss shares her self isolation story…

Life in lockdown hasThe kids certainly taken some adjustment. My partner, Jon, and I went into self-isolation two weeks ago, as his colleague had developed symptoms and we all got new coughs.

Jon and I moved into together in August last year. Over the months we’ve been enjoying spending more time together and I’ve had the opportunity to build a closer relationship with his kids. He has a 16-year-old boy in his first year of A-Levels and an 11-year-old daughter who now won’t be faced with SATS.

The ups and downs have included discovering the bogeys his son blows on to the shower wall (ugh!), watching Studio Ghibli films together and delighting in their beauty and narrative, giggling like an idiot with his daughter over stupid jokes (normally about farts and words like willie), and taking long walks around the Sussex countryside with a bouncy springer spaniel.

I’m fortunate that their mum and I get on really well. Making us a pretty good family unit. Among other things we share the dog, a car, Sunday roasts, BBQs on the beach and long dog walks. All of it has been a positive in my life. Bringing new energy and discoveries every day. Even when there are inevitable tensions and family disagreements, I’ve felt comfortable being a part of the dynamic. I think that’s a good thing!

In our new world of lockdown this has all been put into super-focus, and so far,Juno we are doing well. We are juggling working from home, swapping working places for some variety, and home schooling for the kids. The spaniel keeps herself entertained chasing sunlight and shadows…idiot. This has made for interesting online meeting interruptions – my colleagues almost had the joy of the 16-year-old in his pants wandering behind me the other day, but I managed to move the camera in time!

We are taking it in turns to have the kids three days here, three days with their mum, giving us all a bit of space and change of scene when needed. I can’t imagine how some of our friends, colleagues, family and neighbours are managing to balance it all in one home and some with much younger children. We are also enjoying more family meals together and video messaging friends and family.

FoxesWe’ve started a ‘tiny’ attempt at sustainable living. Growing celery and lettuce from offcuts that are sprouting. If the weather warms up, maybe we can plant them out in the garden soon. Our neighbour also found out that we have a family of foxes living in the wall behind our house – parents and at least four cubs… lovely to discover new neighbours.

One piece of family togetherness has been a new Oculus headset Jon bought for work (honestly it is for work, he runs a film and animation company and they are looking at developing new VR experiences). I’m becoming quite a master (not!) of Beat Saber. I’m loving Believer by Imagine Dragons. Their mum hilariously let go of the hand devices almost hitting me in the face – taking it as an accident!  In reality us adults are enjoying ‘having a go’, but the 16-year-old and 11-year-old are smashing it. At least it is a bit of daily indoor exercise!

However you are finding your way through these trying times, I hope it has moments of joy, discovery and laughing as much as we do together. Wishing you all well and safe.

Here’s me playing with the VR!

Nic Ashton • April 3, 2020

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  1. Meredith April 3, 2020 - 2:33 pm Reply

    The VR looks like great fun! What better way to get used to each other’s weird and wonderful habits than to throw a lockdown into the mix! 🙂

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