Hi, I’m Natalie and I’ve lived in Tilehurst for just over five years with my two girls Sophia (7) and Isabella (3).

As a single parent I thought I knew what it was like to be tired, but when lockdown happened life got even more challenging! Overnight my support system disappeared and it was left to me alone to meet all my children’s needs.

I had to amuse them, comfort them, educate them, feed them, clean them and clear up after them. It has been a heavy responsibility and with no-one to share it with, the days felt endless.

Despite this, I knew I wasn’t totally alone. I felt that God was with me every step of the way. He gave me strength when mine was depleted, he was the encouraging friend giving me a boost when I felt low.

I would read the Bible and he would remind me how important it is to be patient, loving, gentle and kind with my children even when I was feeling tired, frustrated and on edge.

The Bible’s ancient wisdom is still very relevant today. It teaches us that we should give thanks in every situation and I tried to focus on this to keep me going through lockdown. I was thankful for the good weather, for a garden in lockdown, and that we were all kept healthy.

But mostly, I thank God that actually this has allowed me to really get to know my children better, spending quality time with them and not just nagging them to eat their dinner, brush their teeth and do their homework. Not only that, they got to know more of each other too and bond as siblings.

I think 2020 is a year none of us will ever forget. It has been a year where life as we knew it changed, nothing was certain, and things we took for granted were taken away.

I can’t wait till the restrictions are eased and I can book myself in for a spa day for some well-deserved pampering! But even if that doesn’t happen for a while, I know that God will give me strength to continue, peace to accept these difficult circumstances, and the ability to be thankful still.