Hello, as I mentioned in my last post I’m only writing these posts from my own experiences, not as an expert. Also, I’m not moaning, I realise how lucky we are and how things are harder for others, but if we do feel sad about something, we are going to say it sorry as there’s no point bottling anything up. So eleven days into self-isolation, eleven days away from Dave, how are we getting on?
I’m quite surprised by how fast time is going. I naively thought I’d have time to play games with the kids, craft together and read my book (to myself). Usually, I’m always reading, but I haven’t found the time during this period of self-isolation. It’s surprising how time-consuming it is feeding the kids breakfast, dinner, tea and various snacks and clearing up after them all day. We’ve been baking bread and making cakes. Then the kids have been given lots of work from school to complete. I was hoping we’d be able to set this ourselves as then I could have planned differentiated work for the kids from the same topic to make learning a shared experience. As I have four kids from Year 3 to BTECH level it’s quite time-consuming. Also, people are sharing lovely resources for children, they will never get bored. Most importantly, the kids have to be kept happy as their lives have been changed drastically overnight. At school and college-age, your friends are everything. They’re missing school, their teachers and friends as well as all their social clubs and of course, their dad and family. It’s hardest for Danny, I think. When you’re a teen, you try to distance yourself from your parents and siblings as a right of passage, but here Dan is now, holed up with us day in day out for at least 12 weeks and I expect a lot longer. Also, he’s now the sole male and always feels he has to be “man of the house” while Dave is away. When he feels he can’t live up to this, he gets frustrated with himself. It’s important to keep up with the news too, as things are changing a lot, and the daily update takes a chunk of time from our day. We also spend a lot of time staying in touch with family. We’re planning to draw pictures and write letters too (when we get some spare time). We do have an hour or two off in the evening to watch some TV (we’re enjoying Malory Towers) or a film together as we need this downtime. We’re also re rereading Anne Frank’s Diary as that, of course, puts into perspective how lucky we are. We’re not stuck at home, we’re safe at home.
In the day, we’re busy with school work and my work. The kids seem fine apart from the occasional irritableness with each other which is only understandable when cooped up together. At night when we have time to think, we’re more affected. The kids are very wound up in the evenings. I presume because even though they’re doing Joe Wicks, Cosmic Yoga and PE activities from school it’s not the same as having a whole day walking around school or running around in the woods. We are “allowed” out for one walk a day but we haven’t yet. At first, I was worried that as other people weren’t isolating they would approach us as usual and I can’t put Danny at any risk. I’m still worried about that as even though people have been told to, many aren’t following the rules. They’ll be fine when they catch it, but they’re putting the vulnerable at risk. Then there’s judgement, as we’re a household of five (while Dave is away) I’m worried people will think we’re out in a big group, or see the four kids together and think we’re flouting rules by letting kids meet up. I know I shouldn’t care what people think, but I do. As I haven’t left the house and garden for ten days, there’s a part of me that fears it irrationally now anyway. I don’t know what the world outside my garden looks like anymore. Dave has sent some photos of the supermarket queues etc as I haven’t seen anything and feel quite, literally, remote from it all. The last reason we haven’t walked out yet is it took quite a lot to make “staying home” seem normal. At first, the kids would ask, “Can we walk to the local shop?” etc. If we pop out for a walk, it’s harder for them to understand, that’s all they can do. Staying in has to be our new norm. Dave did come around to help me sort the garden out (thank you so much) so they can at least enjoy time out there. We can make a fire and put Danny’s tent up soon.
At night the kids’ fears and sadness rise to the surface. I’d asked them to write a journal about this time as it may be of interest to children in the future. They normally love writing but have been loath to do this I expect for the same reason it’s taken me ages to begin writing about it on the blog. Writing is facing up to your feelings and right now, our feelings hurt. Izzy has written a bit late at night when I’ve told her to sleep. Then she comes down late at night and shows me. It’s all worries about Dave and about how she’s missing him. Last night it was about not being able to sleep anymore. She really is missing him so much and we’ve had big hysterical cries over it late at night. I feel bad as we made this decision as a family. It is the right one to shield Danny but it’s perhaps not the best one for our family emotionally. However, I don’t feel we have a choice. Eventually, there will be a “fight” for ventilators and it will be survival of the fittest, which sadly Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome patients won’t win. Again, we’re lucky we were in the position to make this decision. Families are being kept apart because of parents having to continue their keyworker jobs. They may not see each other at all during this time. We’re still seeing Dave every few days from a distance. “See you through the window!” is now a saying to be heard frequently and will continue.
As Dave is currently dropping off food for us (and keeping two metres away) the kids have also been worried about practical needs, such as how we’d survive if Dave himself got ill and was unable to come, bless them. I’m worried that he feels ousted and rejected by the family. It’s awful not being able to give him a big hug. I’m also worried that it’s a stressful time for him and the others who are carrying on getting supplies for all the vulnerable in their friends and family group. I know things are hard now and they’re clamping down every day. I think if Dave was away for happy reasons, it would be easier for us all to cope with.
Because the kids are wound up, I’m struggling to get them to bed and to sleep each night. I’m really missing having an hour or two of “child-free time” just to clear my head before going to bed. I can’t work in the evenings as I feel too tired and overwhelmed. I’m really tired but I hate going to bed without Dave here. I know some kids are always missing their dads, and some people are always missing their partners, so we’re lucky we will have him back where he belongs again but life is strange without him. Also, those of us staying in do have guilt over not being the ones being out and about helping*.
The way I describe how I’ve been feeling recently is homesick. Which sounds ironic when we’re stuck at home! (not stuck at home Claire, safe at home!) But, they say home is where your family is and I’m feeling homesick for our family. Other’s have said that it’s normal to feel a type of grief at this time. Grief over the lives we used to have especially as they will be different, “a new normal” when this is over. Speaking about normal. In some ways, I’m surprised how we as a society have all taken to this new way of living quite easily. Usually, there’s chaos if schools close for one snow day etc. The difference here is that everyone in the world is in this together. It’s sad to see how every country had had to close the borders to prevent further spread, but it is important. We’ve even had to clamp down on tourists wanting to come to Pembrokeshire. Usually, as a tourist destination, we’re inviting them in. It’s so strange seeing the police have to keep people out. “Don’t come to Pembrokeshire” are words we thought we’d never say. Bluestone, a holiday resort, is becoming a recovery centre for patients recovering from COVID-19. When this is all over, will we still be wary of strangers coming to our towns once more, just as our ancestors felt after the plague?
It’s heartbreaking watching the number of deaths in the UK rising and we know things are nowhere near their worst yet. Some people get annoyed when others publish posts about life in other countries that are already ahead of us in fighting Coronavirus and when people publish the number of deaths. Personally, I think it’s right to publish them and face the facts. Of course, no one wants this to be happening, but it is. Of course, we’re anxious, we need to be. We need to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. When your loved ones are among the death toll, would you want them to be ignored and swept under? These deaths are not statistics, they are all people, families and stories. It’s heartbreaking. Loved ones can’t be with their dying relatives and funerals can’t take place in the usual manner. My heart goes out to everyone already going through this. I’m thinking of our friends, family and everyone in the NHS at the moment, I can’t imagine the strain you’re under, please look after yourselves and each other too. I know words aren’t enough but thank you!
Anyway, I’m going to try to start taking photos of our days again, something I neglected to do until yesterday. I just haven’t felt like myself at all. I’ll try to keep updating here too. As I also said in my last post, I am continuing to work. Therefore there will still be adverts and sponsored content on this blog. I have thought it through and initially declined a few posts. However in the long run, for both my family and society as a whole, I feel it’s best to keep on making money while I can. That way the government have more money in the pot for people who sadly can’t work any more.
In the darkest of times, people always shine their brightest and it’s heartwarming to see how everyone is coming together at this time. Every day we get one day closer to things being normal, a new normal, again.
Lots of love to everyone, stay safe and well. xxx
*In England, the NHS has called for a volunteer army.
Members of the public can sign up quickly and easily at goodsamapp.org/NHS to become NHS Volunteer Responders, and can be called on to do simple but vital tasks such as:
- delivering medicines from pharmacies;
- driving patients to appointments;
- bringing them home from the hospital;
- or making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home.
The last role is suitable for people self-isolating at home.
In Wales, the system is not as straightforward but if you’re interested in volunteering, you can sign up here: https://volunteering-wales.net/vk/volunteers/index-covid.htm
Also, keep an eye on local Facebook groups and on your council website.