Stories from people in our community.
Tuesday 2nd June Blog – new mother
”When I had my son on the 14th February 2020 in the Royal Berkshire Hospital, I wasn’t allowed more than one visitor because of Norovirus, Covid-19 wasn’t major news at this point and I naively thought that it wouldn’t really touch the UK.
I was lucky enough to have my usual midwife checks at home and in the West Berkshire Community Hospital as well as meeting with my Health Visitor who was offering me a bit of extra mental health support due to the ‘baby blues’.
In early March however I remember hearing that sad news that a patient had passed away in the RBH and from that moment, things started to change.
My 6 week check with the GP was completed over the telephone, I was given the option of going in however the media frenzy had terrified me. The timing of the call coincided just when my son needed a feed, my Fiance was on a work call so I had to try and have this really sensitive conversation whilst coping with a crying newborn. It really wasn’t ideal and looking back, I should have just gone in. I’m really aware that my son hasn’t been checked physically but luckily we’d been to the doctors the week before and his chest etc. had been listened to them.
The same telephone call situation happened with my Health Visitor 6 week check too, once again I felt that I couldn’t talk properly over the crying. I was asked how my mental health was and at the time I was fine.
Since both of these checks however, I haven’t been contacted by any medical professional to see how I’m coping. Thankfully, I am ok and now know that I can still call if I need support.
Immunisations (8 and 12 week) went ahead as planned with just a slight delay, we felt safe both times and I’d decided that the risk of not having the immunisations was more than that of Covid-19.
As support was lacking, I actually decided to set up a Facebook group for new mums and pregnant ladies in West Berkshire. From feedback I’ve received and from my own experience, it’s really helping us all to feel more connected.
Our Family Hub centres have also been invaluable throughout this pandemic. The staff are so approachable and you feel as if you are part of their family. I’ve attend lots of online sessions that I would have previously got from face to face sessions. They aren’t the same but they are certainly appreciated and enjoyable.
The only concern I have now is what to do in regards to my return to work and I’m sure there are many other families with the same worries.”
Thursday 28th May Blog – working from home mum of two:
”I’m sitting here looking out of the window while writing this and everything seems so very normal. The birds are chirping, a sea of yellow daffodils are waving in the wind and the sun is still shining at 8pm. Spring is certainly here, but not like we’ve ever experienced before.
Our lives have changed dramatically since the Coronavirus outbreak. After the first news story broke of a new virus spreading through China, I would never have imagined how it would have had such an impact on how we live and go about our day-to-day lives here in the UK.
With government rules and updates happening on a daily basis, we are now in our fourth week of being on lockdown. Only essential shops can stay open for people to buy food and medicines. Schools, nurseries, colleges and universities have all closed. Recreational venues such as parks and gyms can’t be used. Restaurants, pubs, bars, clubs, etc, have all been shut down. The advice is to stay at home, not meet up with friends and family members, and not to travel unless it is absolutely necessary. We can only go out once a day for one hour with our household to exercise.
As this virus sweeps through our world, we are left to feel panic and unease of what lies ahead of us, scared of the unknown. We are also left questioning lots of things: How long is this going to last? Should I be standing further away from you? What happens if me or a family member gets this virus? When will things go back to normal? Will they ever go back to normal? The list goes on.
It is sometimes easy to get tied up with the negatives of it all and therefore, as with most things in my life, I try and think of the positives that come out of a negative situation. It’s been hard to do as change is difficult. I’ve never been in a situation like this before – no one has -but I hope by reading this you find comfort in what I have written and realise that we can make this journey a little less painful.
We are always busy in our household, whether it’s down to work, school, the children’s clubs or seeing family and friends, we always seem to be on the go. We have never been able to spend this much time together as a family. Believe me, there are some days that are hard and challenging, but I know when things are back to normal, I will look back and be grateful for this time together.
Sense of Achievement
If I stop and think for a moment, I feel a sense of achievement in many ways. I am helping our elderly next-door neighbours with their food shopping, so they don’t have to go out. I am now responsible for my children’s education while schools are closed, and I have somehow been able to cope, maintain some kind of normality and be a pillar of support during this situation that we have been presented with.
From clapping for the NHS frontline staff at 8pm every Thursday to new support groups offering help and advice in our surrounding area, this period of our lives has brought out the best in so many people. There is a huge sense of community spirit that has evolved where I live. Everyone is united and will do whatever it takes to help one another in these hard times. It’s great and comforting to see and I hope it continues when we all go back to our normal lives.
Appreciate the Small Things
Listening to music on Spotify, reading a book on my Kindle, having internet connection and the technology to message or speak to family members and friends in isolation – these are some of the things that I once took for granted. This situation has taught me to be grateful for what I have, however insignificant they may seem. “Sometimes you have to forget what’s gone to appreciate what still remains and look forward to what’s next.”– Will Smith.
It’s been great to sit down and write this for other people to read. It has helped me refocus my thoughts and I hope it will also help you to think of the positives in your life during these tough times. Thanks for reading and I hope you all stay safe and well!”
Tuesday 26th May Blog – working from home secondary school teacher:
”I have sat down to write this blog numerous times but there always seems to be something that stops me. Some days it is the fact that I have been staring at my laptop screen for about thirteen hours, others it is the fact that I just don’t have the focus to. But most recently, when the profession I love so much came under attack, that is when I just had to log off social media for a bit and just take a deep breath.
Now, I am aware that I am very privileged in my position and that therefore, a lot of this will not be applicable to the masses – but maybe some of the small few of you who read this. I live at home with my Mum, Step-Dad, and younger brother; I pay rent; I have a separate room that I can sit and complete my work in; I have a cushion on the dining room chair that I am using to aid with my back pain; I’m getting used to the Blue Filter glasses that I have ordered to try and support my headaches; I do not have any additional responsibilities in my school; I have a shared Year Eleven class.
Teaching during a global pandemic – I don’t remember the unit on this at University! That being said, we have had to adapt extremely quickly to a situation that we were thrust under. Before I go any further, I just want to stop and say how impressed I am that we have adapted so quickly and so well. So many generous individuals on Twitter, and within schools trying to help in anyway that they can. Even my brother (someone who hated school) said that he would be willing to come in and teach if staffing levels got too low! This was pre-closure.
Where better to explore these unusual times, than with an overview of my day:
· 7am – Wake up feeling panicked that something has happened overnight and that there is so much to do. Check my work emails on my phone to confirm or deny this theory.
· 7:15am – At my desk with a large glass of water to get me through the morning.
· 9am – Get up and stretch – that’s about 15 emails dealt with, and the inbox just keeps on filling up…
· 10am – Wellbeing Webinar to explore the role I can take when speaking to students and parents (and myself) to try and alleviate stress and pressure.
· 11am – Deliver a remote tutorial-come-lesson, to Year Ten students from my class who have managed to log on. This is often interrupted by my internet crashing out, and a chorus of “We thought we’d managed to get rid of you!” sarcastically uttered.
· 12 noon – Returning back to the ever filling inbox and realising that I haven’t posted on the Department Instagram page that I run. I frantically search for something engaging for the students to get involved in, or at least look at. Once that is posted (and I check that I haven’t posted it on my own account – one time!), then I can get back onto marking student work and providing feedback. This hour is often one of my most sluggish, with work being downloaded from emails, rotated, deciphered, put into my spreadsheet, comments added to a feedback form, and emailed back. I never thought I would miss the ‘traditional’ marking in school so much.
· 1pm – break for lunch. Text some friends who are also teachers, as we can actually have a lunchbreak together, albeit electronically. This is one of the other privileged things – I don’t have children or other mouths to deal with. Just a general sense of frustration of three of us trying to work from home and things not being easy!
· 2pm – Hop back onto the laptop to see what else I can deal with. Oh look, yet more emails! The to-do list is starting to resemble the haphazard notes I made whilst writing my dissertation. Realise that I did have a system that was colour-coded for the to-do list and think that I should get back to it. Not only was it calming to look at, but it made it easy to prioritise tasks.
· 4pm – I make note that I haven’t heard from some students in a few weeks, and want to check in. Checking that in the depths of the emails I haven’t heard from their parents, I send a quick check in, and then ring the parents of those in my Tutor group who haven’t responded for a few weeks, to work or personalised messages.
· 5pm – Pop downstairs to put the kettle on and grab a snack before participating in some CPD that is being delivered remotely. This ranges from Exam Board specific, to how we can improve writing in the classroom. Still keeping tabs on emails and responding quickly. Also, responding to messages on my phone that have come in since lunchtime.
· 6:30pm – I decide to try and do something relaxing – bake! I normally choose something that we can enjoy after dinner as a family, and it also means that the oven is at temperature before we start cooking dinner.
· 8pm – I know I have half an hour until dinner, so I look at the Scheme of Work that I am putting together for Year Nine, and see if I can add anything, or if it needs to be edited in some way.
· 8:30pm – Take an hour to be with the family for dinner, during which time I am still checking my work emails and seeing if the Safeguarding issue I raised has been seen.
· 10pm – Still checking the emails periodically – this is becoming a habit that I cannot shift, the anxiety of it all is causing this response in me. So, I jump in the shower, and then read my book.
· 11pm – Have nightly phone call with my friend. This benefits the pair of us – two overthinkers who are trying to get to grips with this remote teaching stuff. She lives with people in her family who are not only teachers, but also high up in Safeguarding and Children’s’ Services for the County. My Mum works with adults with Learning Difficulties, so there is much overlap in our lives. This is our nightly debrief. It can be just talking through the day that helps us alleviate our stresses, but also it means that we are able to put the day behind us and talk about random stuff for a bit.
· 12 Midnight – 2am – These hours are often the darkest for me, not just literally! This is where I start to replay my day over and over in my head, trying to establish what I can do better tomorrow; how I can help the girl in Year Seven who is getting frustrated that she can’t access the learning; who else in my Tutor Group do I want to check in on tomorrow; how can I apply my learning from the CPD to my classroom; how can I remind my Dad, who has tested positive, to stay at home; how can I help my 94 year-old Nan to stay safe; how can I feel like I am doing something to help during all of this?
· 2:30 – Check my emails for hopefully the final time before I get up and start this all over again tomorrow.
· 7am – After a fitful night of ‘sleep’, I get out of bed.
This is just an example of a day this week. There is no place that I would rather be right now than supporting my students in the classroom, and to have the outside world be safe for them to be in. But that can’t happen, and it is going to be a long time until we can get there. For now, the best thing that we can do is stay safe and keep going strong. We have all got this, and we all have our own struggles, but ultimately, keeping ourselves safe is our priority.
We often publish the positives of our life online, this has been a far more honest, raw, and open account. I am not a Nurse, a Doctor, a Surgeon, a Police Officer, a Firefighter – these are the front line workers that deserve all of the love and support, people who are seeing the unfiltered impact of this. I am merely a young teacher facing the battlefield of remote education during a global pandemic.”
Thursday 21st May Blog – working from home parent to two adult children:
”Conversation of Covid 19 pandemic is all around me, it has impacted on my job, my charity, my friend, family, and my life. To stay positive has been a challenge for me. To lose control of my freedom of choice and independence has been a big issue.
When the decision was made to work from home during the lockdown, I took it in my stride with the view that ‘everything has it’s tide’, because I know ‘God will not forsake me. However, my faith journey has had many rollercoaster moments during the pandemic because it had nothing but negative emotions. The pandemic tested how much I really believe in my faith which has been the constant source of support and comfort.
Since the Covid 19 outbreak my network of fellowship disappeared, as not able to attend life groups or church.
Other than work, the contact with lifegroup and church was my lifeline. The whole culture changed to virtual lifegroup and church has been draining for me as I was sitting in front of my laptop just like work. I dread social media and technology however at this moment they are my lifeline to everything like shopping, family, friends, and my daughters. My laptop and I are besties.
Going outside for walks and exercises causes me to have panic attacks as people are not following the guidelines. When you ask nicely to maintain social distance, it is not taken kindly. My mental health is like a yo-yo and I did not realise how vulnerable I became. To protect myself during this time of uncertainty, I keep going to the bible verses daily which gives me assurance and protects me from spiritual warfare. I am learning to submit to Jesus’ teachings. When God is on my side, there is no battle I cannot face in this world. All I have being asked is to trust my beliefs. Is has not been an easy thing to do, however at this moment I tried not to let my heart rule but be wise in the scripture? I am taught to ask, and just trust, and I do ask every day to protect my family, my friends and anyone I know. As time has gone, I have learnt to cherish and value simple and beautiful things and moment, looking at everything in half full, not empty attitude. Reading the bible strengthens me through rough areas and believing that Jesus is walking with me through the trials I face, enables me to wake the next day.
I am blessed have two caring daughters who have kept an eye on me from a distance. The girls have taken on the role of parent and grounded me with love. They have been my shopper and my virtual walking partner. I have not liked losing my independence however am realistic that this is done to save my life. I cannot wait for the lockdown to end as longing to be with my daughters as well to have fellowship. I miss my hugs.
Whatever my journey is, there is always the rainbow of hope. My hope, out of this pandemic, is the showers of love for one another, no matter what is evidence of the past, respective of faith or beliefs, learning forgiveness to the path of recovery and healing. Love does not quit when we encounter epidemic or trials of life is piled on. Love does not fail despite our inadequacies as God is Love. #Kindness”
Tuesday 19th May Blog – from a West Berkshire preschool worker:
”At the beginning things seemed quite calm here in the UK. We’d been led to believe it was people over 60 or with serious health conditions who were the only ones being really affected or dying….
Then came the first week I was really aware things were a little more serious.
People started working from home on government advice & my parents being over 70 went into isolation. At this point I knew two families who had become ill from covid19, they said how ill they all were & yet they had no under lying conditions.
At this point I started to worry.
Each member of my family are asthmatic & my husband has had recent heart problems after being rushed to A&E a few months back & is now on several medications.
At this point as a dedicated nursery nurse I start to feel torn between wanting to be at work with the children I care for who are such a big part of my life & wanting to run for cover & safety at home. I feel desperate to pull my children from school through fear of them catching covid19 & suffering badly due to their asthma.
My husband at this point is still at work. Dealing with members of the public & there’s no sign of him working from home.
Days pass & eventually my husband is told to work from home. Worry sets in as he & his entire work group have been given a date of redundancy just a couple of weeks before covid 19 hit the UK. So now the search for another job is put on hold. With no companies apart from delivery drivers or shop workers being employed.
My work place are in discussions as to whether we are open for children of key workers or if we’re not. Things are so unclear after the announcement that schools will now shut.
How can we stay open if only 4 or 5 children will need our services. What will we do as several members of staff including myself are vulnerable & want to stay safe?
48 hours of worry not knowing what’s going to happen & if we do close, will we still be paid?
Goverment information & confirmation from the council takes longer.
Eventually we are told we are closing & on the Friday the schools close we also close.
The following week the hall we work from also closes.
Now comes the task of home schooling….
I have 25 years experience in childcare & early years.
My youngest son is 7 years old diagnoised ASD & waiting for an ADHD assessment.
I have to say, home schooling him is a tough job!
At school he has additional help for reading & writing. His teacher is amazing!
I have plenty of experience in promoting learning through play, but after the first three days of tears & tantrums, I down the work sheets & decide we’ll do an hour a day of the curriculum including reading. The rest will be using my early years experience & quite frankly just my skills as a loving mum to allow my son to learn through play. We garden, bake, paint, get caterpillars through the post to learn the butterfly life cycle.
Now we’re having fun & my son is happy & learning! But he’s confused & his anxiety shows in tantrums & meltdowns. We try to be understanding & reassure him.
My husband is doing several video work conferences a day in the dining room. while I’m trying to home school in the living room! I try my best to stop my son from interrupting or making excessive noise.
It’s quite a challenge!
Meanwhile the world outside is still ticking along. Everyday I turn on the news & my happy bubble, locked inside my family home is burst as reality floods in as we hear another 700/800 have died & this is the same daily with no end in sight.
With my parents on lockdown 40 minutes away & my 84 year old in his flat 5 minutes away we have no one else to rely on. We can’t get a food delivery slot as my husband is considered to be just below the threshold for the most vulnerable list. So each week one of goes to the supermarket with a mask in tow.
They say masks offer little protection but we’d rather not take the risk. Everything takes three times longer than usual. We are now shopping for my father in law too.
Waiting for medication at the pharmacy is now a two hour ordeal. We feel sorry for the pharmacists who are working flat out.
My 15 year old son is in lockdown with his father. This is another misinformed topic!
It’s unclear in the beginning as to whether a child from a split home who lives between parents can go between two homes. It takes several days for the government to make things clear on this subject. But even after it becomes clear this is fine, the risks involved in mixing two homes when some members have medical conditions make it harder.
At one point we try to meet for a cycle together as he’s my son & we’re allowed to be together but decide meeting for exercise is safer to avoid spread between two households but the police take it upon themselves to stop my son & send him back to his fathers!
As of now I’ve not seen my son in 4 weeks.
Things are so unclear, nobody knows how long we will have to do lockdown for & even after lockdown how safe will we be going back to how things were before? I worry for my husband with his health issues.
I fear my youngest becoming ill as with his ASD & sensory issues he’s so sensitive to pain or illness.
Only time will tell where we all go from here & I hope the ones I love will be there the other side for happy times again.”
Wednesday 13th May Blog – from a West Berkshire mum working from home with three children:
”I am a mother of 3 children, aged 14, 9 and 4. My husband is a keyworker. Just an insight to normal family life.
Two weeks before the schools shutting, my 9-year olds teacher had an operation in hospital. Her anxiety was so bad that I had to keep her off school for a week as she just didn’t simply adjust to the new teacher at school. The school did not pre-warn her or me and so she was having panic attacks at night, sweating and inconsolable leading to having to sleep in the room with us. She then went back to school knowing that she only had a week to go until her teacher was to come back. All sorts of thoughts were going through her mind and she couldn’t wait to hear or see her teacher.
Then the schools shut. Luckily the school had set up a Google Classroom where her teacher could speak to all the children and set work accordingly. The sleepless nights still didn’t go away, panic attacks, very anxious.
Uncertain that what was happening around her, she still became anxious that she would never see her friends or her teacher again. The work set from the school is of a very high demand, although the school have said they don’t have to do it all. I am sure they have set more for them to do at home that they would have done in school. I, as a parent, will never ever be a teacher and simply does not have the patience or ability to be one.
I am teaching my year 5 child things that they have never done before. Frustrating doesn’t even come close to how the first week went. Thank goodness we have been able to have a break as it’s the Easter holidays!
My 14-year-Old is in Year 9 and has quite a lot of work, but it is very manageable (to be honest I think she has less than my 9-year-old). She has the capability to just get on with it but gets very frustrated from the noise and the behaviour of the over two distracting her. She is in touch with some of her teachers via Zoom, so she feels more connected. She sits at home in her own time and stays on her phone all day, if she could. She had a massive panic attack the other day, she is very quiet, generally easy-going and calm in most cases. When I witnessed her struggling to breathe, I talked her through the correct breathing techniques. It scared me to thinking she isn’t ok. It’s the quiet ones you need to watch out for. Now everyday I make sure we go for a walk to clear her head.
My 4-Year-old – He has just been referred to CAHMS for an assessment. Whilst he was at school, he showed to be a very angry child who just doesn’t cope in a school environment. Far too many demands for him and has huge anxiety. Since the schools have shut, he has become a different child, no longer angry, happy to be in his safe environment, the lockdown is exactly what he needs but unfortunately that’s not the real world. Enjoying the calm boy for now.
From a working prospective – I never ever thought that this was ever an option, 3 children and trying to work… a recipe for disaster. I am not going to lie, it’s been exhausting! I am fortunate enough for my husband to do shifts, so he is home by 2pm most days. I must leave all 3 children to just entertain themselves, but they know where I am if they need me. I was on the phone the other day and my 4-year-old shouts “I need the toilet now”.
Before I had to work from home, I had to dress up smartly looking presentably, now I have no drive to look my best and its very demoralising every morning. I must keep telling myself how lucky I am to still be working and still have a job.
Two of my children have asthma so I am very grateful for work to allow me to work from home where my children are safe. Things will get better, we just need to give it time..”
Tuesday 12th May Blog – from a West Berkshire Widow in lockdown:
”I am 71 and my husband died three years ago after having lived well with cancer. I have kept going for the three years since his traumatic death but now feel completely, even more, bereft. I thought I was coping but the isolation and time to think is so unhelpful. My friends are great but the Zooms we have, which includes their husbands/partners only compounds the loss. I used to do lots of voluntary stuff but being categorised as vulnerable has put paid to that, and make me feel old, which I didn’t before.
I’ve revisited my Lasting Power of Attorney too and redone my Will and I really must get around to clearing the cupboards and drawers too, but there doesn’t seem any urgency other than wondering if this wretched Covid thing might get me.
In many ways the weather has been a godsend but sitting in the garden provides time to think, “What might we be doing now?” “Wouldn’t it be lovely to notice things growing together, or plant veg to eat and share?”
There must be so many people in this same situation and it is difficult to know what to do, other than sink further into an unhelpful mental state. I know there is a lot of support out there but what on earth could anyone do, it’s the situation that is so sad and quite un-repairable.
Right, I’m stopping this now, I’m not going to dwell. I have learnt and know that tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that could be lighter. And I’ll ring someone and just chat!”
Monday 11th May Blog – from a West Berkshire working from home mum of three:
”I think it goes without saying that we are all dealing with changes during this period of lockdown. Changes to how we work, our home life, how we interact with people outside of our household, how we parent and school our children, how we run a household, how we run a business, how we exercise, what food and drink we consume, what news and media we watch or read. The list could go on!
As I was reflecting on my own journey to date, I became acutely aware of how the phases I seem to be traversing (often back and forth) reminded me of the Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle. This cycle postulates responses to loss or change that many people have.Here is my light-hearted take on lockdown.
Stage 1 – Denial
It was just after lunchtime on 12 March 2020. I was having a lovely catch up with my friend, Jo at her farmhouse on the lake. The sun was shining and the sky was a cloudless blue. Her husband, Matt, was walking towards us through the grassy back garden. “They have just said on the radio that all the Irish schools are closing”, he announced. “Really?” I responded, not even having the slightest understanding of the weight of what he had just said, and certainly not making the connection that we in the UK would be next! He followed up with “I reckon it will be about another week or two and our schools will be next”. It all just seemed a bit outrageous to me. I wasn’t worried. It was all a bit of an overreaction and things would sort themselves out shortly.
Sure enough, on the 23 March 2020 our beloved Prime Minister announced the school closures, along with other lockdown measures. Well this should be interesting, I thought. It’s just not going to work so they’ll have to come up with something else. The reality of being at home with my 3 little darlings, 24/7, providing education, emotional support, healthcare, fun times, personalised attention, exercise and endless snacks and nutritious meals (basically a healthy, nurturing, calming, bond-building and enriching childhood experience) was still not sinking in.
I began to wonder if everyone was overreacting or if I was under-reacting!
“Denial began to ebb away and was swiftly replaced by an overwhelming feeling of dread and shock”
And so began the tsunami of “helpful” links to online learning tools, YouTube lessons, printable worksheets via Messenger, Facebook, WhatsApp etc.
Denial began to ebb away and was swiftly replaced by an overwhelming feeling of shock, dread and panic, with extreme grouchiness to follow shortly thereafter!
Stage 2 – Anger
I have read somewhere that Anger is just a mask and manifests itself in the place of another emotion, usually Fear. In any case, in my experience, venting is a pretty effective way to feel better! In no particular order, here are just a few of the things I get angry about during lockdown:
Joe Bloody Wicks. It was day 1 when I sustained a strained groin. After a day of limping, icing, resting, painkillers and heat pack application, I did a survey in my head. We voted never to do PE with Joe again.
Donald Trump. Sorry for dropping a political view here, but if I held that one in, it would pop a vein in my eyeball. Anyone fancy a tipple of disinfectant? Why not throw in a shot of Round-up for good measure!?
TVs left on in every room, with nobody watching them. For goodness sake! It is that bloody hard to hit a button on the remote control when you are done watching something??! Which brings me to my next point…
Lost / hidden TV remote controls. Why do they ever need to leave the room that the TV is in? They haven’t grown legs and moved themselves, yet “nobody” has touched them at all! It must be those TV remote control fairies again!
The fact that our glass recycling box is still collected fortnightly. It’s nothing short of insanity. We can’t be expected to be in quarantine and manage to fit all the wine, beer and gin bottles in one box per fortnight. They really need to sort that out. It is of the highest importance.
Explaining to my 9-year-old over and over that he still needs to brush his teeth, despite us not going out anywhere. “Your mouth is covered in scunge and your breath stinks like a sewer! Brush your teeth, you filthy animal!” I barked at him. One of my greatest skills is motivational speaking. Just ask any of my neighbours.
The way my washing machine walks forward on spin cycle and I have to push it back after each load. I’m really seeing red now! What’s that saying about not sweating the small stuff?
Don’t get me wrong, obviously I’m making light of a particularly dire situation, and my circumstances are infinitely a lot better than many people’s right now. I know I am lucky and am so grateful for that.
What makes you feel white hot fury? Write a list; it makes you feel so much better to get it out!
Stage 3 – Bargaining
Oh, the bargaining! The constant negotiating going on in my head are only ever muted by a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio and 4 gin and tonics strong cup of PG Tips.
If I make the kids do all their homework on time, we can all have fun times and enjoy each other’s company.
If I cook a nutritious meal from scratch, every member of the family will love it and ask for more!
If I go out for a 1 hour run every day, then I can eat 4 packets of crisps, 3 Mars bars and a can of coke guilt-free.
If I busy myself with vacuuming, then someone else will take care of the ever-growing laundry pile.
Lies! Lies! Lies! They are all lies, people!
Stage 4 – Depression
My lowest point was Sunday 22 March. It was Mother’s Day and the day before home-schooling started. I felt like a non-swimmer in a tiny boat without a paddle. The tidal wave of well-intended WhatsApp messages sending links to online learning resources, educational You Tube tutorials, “helpful” resources to keep children occupied, and advice to “make sure you take time for yourself” just had me drowning. The kids could sense something was not right, and being the beasts they are, played up on it accordingly. Thankfully my husband managed to throw me a metaphorical life-jacket by taking the kids for a play in the garden so I could sob for an hour or two. Which is only fair, quite frankly, because he is responsible for the monsters in the first place. All their lovely features come from me.
Thankfully, although some days have been tougher than others, I would say my time in this stage did not last long. Mainly because I am acutely aware of the awful circumstances many others are in, and because so many people began to check-in on me to make sure everyone was okay, and that we had access to basic necessities. It was truly heart-warming.
Stage 5 – Acceptance
It is widely recognised that laughing about our misfortunes can transform how we view our situations. Studies show when we hear or see a joke that tickles our fancy, our brain’s reward system lights up and the “feel good” neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin and endorphins) are released.
I realised that wine humour was going to help get me through home-schooling, lockdown and toilet paper shortages! Coupled with the fact that so many other people were experiencing similar challenges (and were able to share the funny side) provided me with a huge boost!
There are a lot of very clever and witty people out there! Some with a whole lot of time on their hands.
Once I registered the bus was going, and if I wasn’t on it, everyone in our household would be left behind, preparations began! It felt good to be in control of something. Working out a plan for each day and prepping meals in advance became my lifeline. Incidentally, it is quite amazing what you can create with a tin of pineapple, some old bread sticks, some mini pavlova shells and a jar of expired crab paste that your mother purchased 6 years ago.
Yes, there are still some really tough days. A bit like the one where child number 3 (aged 2) was trampolining on the sofa in the lounge and managed to split half his earlobe off. Turns out he really just wanted an outing and he figured Accidents and Emergencies would be a lovely place to visit. Luckily, the severed ear could be reattached with a bit of tape and some superglue.
Or the day that I discovered the bathroom colourfully decorated in marker pen.
Or the days that it just feels like I am rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
Or the days where, despite doing absolutely nothing, I feel completely and utterly exhausted.
And other days, I just feel so unbelievably grateful.
Frontline key workers are risking their lives for us
Communities are working together to support the less fortunate or vulnerable
I live in a semi-rural area with access to green space and a back garden
I have the means to call or message anyone I know at any time
I have coffee
The weather (in my part of England it has been bafflingly glorious for the past 4 weeks!)