The second national lockdown is underway and will run until 2nd December. But there's a lot that's different – and better – for parents this time around.
This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small amount of money if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our articles and reviews are written independently by the Netmums editorial team.
It's fair to say none of us are exactly thrilled about lockdown 2.0.
The thought of not seeing extended family and friends, or being able to take the kids swimming at the weekend or for a hot chocolate at our fave coffee shop, let alone being able to start getting festive and go Christmas shopping, is making us feel pretty glum.
But it's worth remembering things are different for families this time around and there is still lots we CAN do during the four-week restrictions, which should (hopefully) make the lockdown blues feel a little more bearable.
There was something so sad about seeing swings and slides taped off during the first national lockdown, so it's heartening to see this isn't happening this time.
Temperatures may have plummeted but taking the kids for a run around the local park and some energy-burning climbing frame action at the weekend will mean everyone gets some much needed fresh air – it'll do all of you the world of good, even in the November weather!
Another bit of park-related news ... sitting on a bench is allowed!
This was banned in lockdown 1.0 and is definitely welcome exemption this time round, as it means you'll be able to have a rest (take some hot choc!) while the kids are going wild on the monkey bars.
Just remember to take some hand sanitiser.
It's perfectly ok to meet up with one friend for a walk and a much-needed chat. Better still, if your kids are babies or preschoolers, you can take them along, too.
So unlike last time, you can get out and see your mates, even if you've got a baby or toddler in tow.
Unfortunately older kids can't tag along as that will breach the two-person limit, so it's not so easy for single parents, but this is where your support bubble comes in.
Remember the daily exercise police, who took to local Facebook groups to complain if they thought their neighbours had been out for exercise more than once a day?
Luckily they won't have anything to moan about this time, as we are allowed to leave our house for exercise as many times as we like!
Now whether this is just a walk around the block to clear your head or a 10-mile run is up to you. Is now a good time to start that couch to 5k plan you've been thinking about for a while?
It's all very well being able to go for as many long walks with the kids as you like, but if the public loos aren't open, it can make life very difficult for parents who have nappies to change, little ones who can't hold on for very long or simply need to go for a wee themselves!
This is why the decision to keep public toilets open should be applauded ... it'll make those weekend walks much more pleasant.
Without doubt the biggest difference for parents ... and perhaps the most important. This lockdown we aren't having to work from home while homeschooling and entertaining children. It was hard enough in spring and summer, imagine how 'fun' it would be in November?!
The routine of going to school will be great for the kids, too. Their education is carrying on and they can have that crucial interaction with friends that was so missed in the first national lockdown.
Childcare and support bubbles didn't exist first time around – it seems crazy looking back, but we weren't allowed to see anyone outside of our household from the end of March until May.
Single parents are now allowed to bubble up with one other household of any size, which is a lifeline for adults and children alike.
Families with children under the age of 13 can also form a childcare bubble with another household, whether that's family or friends.
While this doesn't mean you'll still be able to go to baby music groups or other 'social' activities, the rules do state that if groups that come under the banner of 'support' they're allowed to carry on – for example PND groups.
As ICAP (Institute of Children's Activity Providers) said on its Facebook page:
'It is our general opinion that the majority of the children's activities sector would not typically be classed as 'support groups' (i.e. Bereavement counselling, PND groups, perinatal mental health, breastfeeding support) and therefore should close if they don't meet other exemptions allowing them to continue.'
If you want to spend the lockdown weekends planting some veg for next year – yes, there are some things you can plant in November! – then you'll be able to, as garden centres are allowed to stay open this time.
Plus, non-essential shops are allowed to offer click-and-collect, which wasn't permitted in the first lockdown, so it's good news for you and local businesses.
Need help explaining the Covid-19 pandemic to your children? Coronavirus: A Book for Children about Covid-19 helps explain what coronavirus is and how it affect both health and family life. See more details here at Amazon.
You can also buy it here at Waterstones.
How are you feeling about the second national lockdown? Share your thoughts on the chat thread below...
Your battle plan for getting through Christmas in a pandemic