Families in Lockdown: The Beauty of Muddy Shoes

Janaya Goodhall is trained teacher and currently juggles the roles of Mum, StrengthsFinder Coach, and student of Te Reo at Te Wananga o Aotearoa. She is married to Donald Goodhall, Director of the Residential Fellowship, and they live at Cape Horn with their children Neeve (11), Indie (10), Beckett (6), and Arrow (3).


When I was young, my family embarked on an adventure to Great Barrier Island. We sailed over and stayed for a week or so, spending time with friends and exploring the island. One night during our stay, we walked to our friend’s house for dinner. After an uneventful evening we began the trek home, around the rocks, to where we were staying. Unfortunately we had left our run too late and the tide was coming in further, and faster, than we had planned! We ended up wading and tripping our way home, laughing with a mixture of nervousness and hilarity. I remember my Mum’s shoe getting washed out to sea in the midst of it all, which made it even funnier. It’s a story we reminisce on with fondness and I found myself re-telling it to my children this week as we explored and walked around the peninsula of Cape Horn. Our trek was not threatened by a rising tide, but it was a muddy, slip-sliding adventure that had us tiptoeing around like uncoordinated ice skaters. We ended up with six pairs of shoes absolutely covered in mud and in need of a good scrub.

I’m drawn to this story now as I sit down to write, because although this lockdown period has been a big deal for many of us adults, most children will remember it quite differently. Although they may recall certain details of the scary, anxiety-inducing parts of COVID-19, they will more likely recall the adventures they had with parents, siblings, or others in their bubble.

Time is not something we have in abundance in our normal, busy, Goodhall household and I imagine it’s similar for many of you, with or without kids. For this reason, during lockdown, I have tried to hold things lightly: this includes school work, tasks achieved during the day, a tidy home, and many of the other pressures we often place on ourselves as parents and caregivers. Instead, we’ve enjoyed slower mornings, new games, unrushed cuddles, stories, and our newest family tradition of toasting marshmallows around a fire outside, while the little boys treat us to their “magic tricks” show. This involves us closing our eyes while they “disappear”–run around the corner–and shout “ta-da!” It’s the small joys.

If my tamariki come out of this season a little behind in their school-year learning expectations, but hold some great memories of fun whānau time and stories they will enjoy telling their own children, then that’s a win for me.

I have to be honest though, it certainly hasn’t been all fun and games. Our four kids aren’t used to spending this much time together and some days I could run a master class on conflict resolution gone wrong. When it was announced we had an extra week in Alert Level 4, and two weeks in Alert Level 3, I welled up a little. But I gave myself grace to have a moment, then I picked myself up and away we went. We won’t get these days back. As hard as they are, they are precious. I pray that whatever lockdown situation you find yourself in, you will know God’s grace and peace amidst it all. And may you have some muddy shoes along the way.

(Image supplied)