2020…

On the first of January I wrote in my diary “2020 is gonna be my year”… How naive was I? There’s half of it gone and as we all know it’s definitely a year we will remember. Not for the reasons we originally planned.

The virus called Covid 19 also known as coronavirus, is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It started in January 2020 in China. Came over to us at the beginning of the year but first case of coronavirus was confirmed on 29 February 2020.

I will never forget the lockdown was announced was announced for this country. The Taoiseach and Minister for Health issued strict guidelines for people to stay at home from midnight on 27 March 2020.

“The main rule is to STAY AT HOME. You can only leave your home to:

  • Travel to or from work if you are providing an essential service
  • Shop for food.
  • Collect medical prescriptions and medical supplies and go to medical appointments
  • Carry out vital services like caring (including family carers)
  • Exercise briefly within 2 kilometres of your house. (You can bring children but must keep 2 metres away from others for social distancing)
  • Do farm work
  • You cannot arrange a gathering with anybody you do not live with.”

But what did it mean for us?

STAY HOME = no school. 

Besides a slight panic about food supplies – in shops the shelves were empty as people shopped in panic and took anything that could be of any use – I felt calm. As long as I have medical supplies for S. for another 3 months – and I always do – and some dried goods (pasta, etc) I knew we will be okay.

The week it was announced S. had a UTI so she wasn’t in school anyway. Next 3 weeks we did a bit of homeschooling and then Easter came. Lovely time off, 2 weeks without schoolbooks, and beautiful weather… we were very lucky. Safe and happy.  And then… Easter break was over and it was time to go back to reality. And the reality was….. HOMESCHOOLING. If you are a parent of a healthy child its hard enough. But when you add to it a life condition… it’s an explosive combo.

What I learned during the next 3 weeks (or I should say 3 months in total) ?

  1. I’m not a teacher and never gonna be – not ONLY because of lack of skills or education/ experience in that field – but mainly because of lack of PATIENCE.Yes, I keep hearing from my darling daughter who’s 7.5 that I don’t understand it – regardless if it was math or grammar- and I can’t explain it as her teacher, and because of that I’m stressing her out.
  2. I really hope teachers get a pay rise – anytime they ask for it- because they truly deserve it. I have so much respect for their jobs at the moment…I always did but now – up to the sky. Teachers – you are my heros
  3. I understand that stress that homeschooling caused to my darling S. affected all of us. When me and S. end up shouting and sometimes crying from all the emotions, refusing to do any school work, we were affecting S. dad and her little brother too.
  4. That school isn’t all about education. It’s about socializing. You might say- Duh..it’s not rocket science. It’s not. But I didn’t realize how much it meant to my child until it was gone.

Turn out school and all after school activities were a great distraction from S. health and all the medical attention and extra care that’s involved. When all this was gone – there was a big focus on the catheterizations, meds, bowel and bladder washouts… and S. did not like that.  And she started to fight us. And each time it happened, we tried calmly explaining to her that we understand it’s not easy on her but needs to be done as she might end up in hospital if we don’t, and right now hospitals are full of very sick people who got the virus and we try to stay away from them. The reply was usually the same : “you don’t understand how hard it is…I miss my friends and playing with them”.

What can you say to that? NOTHING.

Absolutely nothing I could say to make it better because the truth is – none of us will ever truly understand how it is. To have all this medical attention on a daily basis, to not being able do a lot of things because of it, or if able – lots logistics involved – but now, when can’t have any distraction – its way way worse. And It’s hard to cope with it for a 7 yr old.

S. often asked when the pandemic will be over and we can get back to “normal”. I wish I knew. Do I miss much of the “normal” from before the lockdown? Not as much. For me – as a busy mum it changed in a good way- I had to slow down. Ok, more stress caused by homeschooling, but also less running around like a headless chicken (school runs for S. and her brother, errands, shopping, cooking, appointments, prescriptions, etc.)

Surprisingly, it was easier to find time for self-care. And I’m sure all busy mums will agree on that with me – it’s not easy to find time just for yourself. During pandemic and lockdown I did. Locked myself in the bathroom and did nails or whatever I never had time for before. I’m telling you about it because I found it super important during this difficult time – look after yourself so you can look after your loved ones.

Social life

None of us ever experienced this situation before. Personally I don’t go out. I get to see my friends every few months, when we finally manage to set a date that suits everyone. Most of the time my relations stay on line. On messenger and over the video chat so I didn’t really miss it that much. But for my daughter who got to see all her friends every day, multiple times a week, play on the school breaks and on the playdates after school…. it was the end of the world.

And I’m sure all kids suffer from not being able to see their friends, for different reasons. But what I want to share with you here is how amazing kids are.

At the start it was super strange for S. to chat and try playing with her pals through the video calls and Zoom. She didn’t know how to act, what to say. Obviously it’s so different from face to face relation. But an interesting fact is: she managed. She got used to it. I heard her one day playing with her pal “hide and seek” on a video call. Shocking? No! Imagination of the two of them is just amazing. One of them had to turn off the camera while the other one hid somewhere and my made sounds in the place she hid and the other one had to guess where her friend was hiding. Genius!

School

At the start I took it easy, didn’t push S. too much. But then I read on the parents school group about all these projects that kids did, all the comments of ambitious parents… I realized we are not even close to do the minimum. Then all the emails from the teacher (seeing email about Monday school work on Sunday afternoon made my heart stop every single week) made me so stressed out and ended up putting more pressure on S.

That was – unfortunately – after Easter break when it was even harder to get anything done. To make a long story short we had 2 weeks of screams, tears and rebellion. And after that I thought… It’s not worth it… It’s just not worth it. I asked myself if at the end of this pandemic I’d like to have a stressed and depressed child who cries each time someone mentions school or do I want to have a HAPPY CHILD. Answer is simple.

I want to have happy kids who remembers we had a laugh and fun during the pandemic, even though we couldn’t go anywhere. Plus I’m not too concerned. Ok, we ended up not doing any homework in the last 3 weeks of the school year but we did loads of “life skills” lessons 😉 baking, cooking, painting benches, planting flowers, loads of art projects.

S. loves reading books (reads at least 3 each week), and she’s good with maths. She doesn’t like writing but it’s ok. She’s not in university. She is in a 1st class and if any kids are missing anything- teachers will have to get back to it in September. I have no doubt she will be fine.

For now the mental health of my kids is the most important thing.

And we will focus on it. I’m glad school year is over and without the extra pressure we will enjoy the summer. As much as we can – as there are still no flights out and if they would be available, I don’t think I would risk it. It’s gonna be a different summer but we will do our best.

Camping in the backyard? Sure! We did it on the 1st of June already – Celebrating International Children’s day. We will do it again as we all enjoyed it. Picnic, walks, bike riding… we will do our best, until it is safe to do all the other things we did before this madness started.

Have a great and safe summer my dear friends, and readers and remember to look after yourself. Self care is more important now than ever before. We will be fine in the end, right? Because if we are not then it’s not the end 🙂

Last but not least Huge THANK YOU  to Dara, Joanna and Geraldine for amazing support during the lock down. We wouldn’t do it without you <3

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