Chloe lives with her daughter Eva who is 4 years old and her older child who is 14.
Images from Chloe and Eva’s discussion.
Have you talked about coronavirus with your child? What does she understand about it?
At the start yes. We spoke about it being a virus and that we have to keep washing our hands, but a lot of it is responding, saying ‘We can’t do that, because of Coronavirus.’ She knows it’s a bug and it’s not very good. We just need to keep washing our hands so we don’t get sick. We call it Coronavirus, or the Corona, or Rona, or germs.
I think she finds it frustrating that there are a lot of things we can’t do. It was like, ‘Can we do that when the Coronavirus is away? When is Coronavirus going away?’ So she knows we can’t do certain things, but I think she’s taking it in her stride really. She was really missing nursery. She kept asking when she was getting to go back to nursery and when she could see her friends.
What was it like in those first few weeks of lockdown?
It’s a bit of a blur. Back then, it was really hard. She was really frustrated not being able to go anywhere, not being able to see friends. Although we were lucky, she was outside most days playing with the neighbours. We’ve got a back garden and the neighbours have a massive side-garden and it’s all enclosed, so that gave us a bit of sanity.
It was hard finding stuff to keep her entertained and occupied. For a while, I was leaving her in the house with my son, who is 14, so it was hard, especially when you’ve got a 4 year old and a 14 year old saying ‘I’m bored. I want to go out.’ He was still trying to go out with his friends and I was like, ‘You’re not supposed to!’ But he kept disobeying me anyway and going out.
Anyway, we did lots of fun things like painting outside, dressing up, playing outside. All the parks were closed, so we didn’t really get anywhere but the garden. It wasn’t until they opened up that we went to Lauriston Castle, with her best friend. We saw the trees and flowers which was nice. The toilets weren’t open, which was a pain. Peeing in the bushes. The joys!
Looking back to that first wee while it was quite tough. I was doing my Mum and Dad’s shopping, so I was seeing them on the doorstep. It was difficult not getting any kind of break. My son’s Dad didn’t take him. Even though children were allowed to stay with both parents, his Dad didn’t want to take that risk. My son’s behaviour is challenging sometimes and sometimes he can just moan all day. It was really tough.
I didn’t do many Zoom calls, because I hate them. It makes me feel so uncomfortable. I had somebody, from where I usually volunteer, on the phone every couple of weeks, but that was my only support. So, for myself, I found it really tough, because I was helping with the parent/toddler group at the local community centre and going to the drop-ins and being part of the local women’s group. All those things. For that all just to stop it was like: Where’s my purpose? It was brilliant volunteering. I really enjoyed it. That was kind of my purpose, and being with the children constantly was kind of wearing. I had been doing (service). I had set up as a business on Facebook, so I was trying to keep busy doing the odd job. In other ways it was cool, going about the streets and they were so quiet. It was like something out of 28 Days Later.
How did it go with learning or keeping the children occupied at home?
My son has a PlayStation and phone. Eva has a tablet and I’ve got my phone. In that sense it was fine. But my son refused to do any school work, which didn’t surprise me, because he didn’t go to school for 1st or 2nd year. My daughter plays games on the tablet. The internet was fine but now it only works in one room so my son kicks off about the internet all the time.
How do you think Eva felt about that experience of lockdown, in those months before the summer break?
We had a little talk about this and she said she liked being with me the whole time. She liked being out playing in the garden. But she didn’t like not being able to go to soft play, or going to granny and grandad’s. We both found it quite tough being in the one place all of the time. Being frustrated at not being able to do things or to go anywhere.
Not being at nursery was difficult for her.With her old nursery, Eva was in there in the afternoons and when it closed it was like, what do we do now? She complained most days. She said she wanted to go back to nursery, wanted to see her friends. They were so lovely at the nursery as well. They made us activity packs, like for baking, with instructions which was good.
How was that period for you as a parent?
It was the isolation and not having things to keep me busy. I thought ‘My house will be immaculate!’ but I had no energy and it really affected my mental health. I couldn’t face anything, so my house was a tip and I was expecting it to be amazing.
Eva’s Dad was in London during lockdown and my son’s Dad wasn’t helping either, so it was all on me. Her Dad went into lockdown with his aunty. I don’t know why he didn’t come and see his daughter. I found it really hard. Some days I just lost it with them, like if they were just moaning constantly. I was getting no time to myself and my patience could be very low at times. It was a struggle. It was like there was no support. Everything was online and I’m not comfortable with that. I prefer face-to-face, one-to-one. Maybe there could have been more outdoor things put in place, but of course nobody knew what was okay. But for next time, maybe more things to do, outdoors, to meet up.
How are things now?
When they said nurseries and schools were going back I was ecstatic. I was waiting for that announcement. It was a relief to know they were going back and she was happy to be going back. I wasn’t really worried. So being back at nursery has been the biggest change. First she went back to her old nursery but then, because of Coronavirus, they couldn’t take everyone back for all the hours they promised. She loved being back, but it was only two days a week, so when we were offered more hours at another nursery I thought ‘Do you know what? I need it’. I have the increased 1140 hours.
With nursery, obviously you’re not allowed in the playground and you can’t go in so you don’t know what her environment is like starting at a new nursery. She loved it and then, after a week, she cried every day going in which was horrible. Now, she skips in, but it’s a shame I can’t see where she is, what she’s doing and what environment she is in.
How do you feel about how the return to nursery is being managed?
At the moment, at the gate, everyone is gathered there and there’s not much social distancing going on there, which isn’t good. I stick to a couple of my friends and maybe get to close to them, but I try to keep my distance from other people.
But certainly for early years, they were really on the ball, everyone has their own bubbles and she was happy enough. It was sad she couldn’t see all the different teachers. It was hard when she started at the new nursery, because there were so many staff and nobody introduced themselves to me. I knew one person already, but that was it. I think they should have had a little virtual tour, introducing themselves and the place. That would have been good to see.
Do you have any concerns looking ahead?
I’m concerned that they might shut it down again. I don’t think I could cope! It helps when communication is up there, you know from nursery or the government. If there was another lockdown I think we should be able to meet outside. Even if the weather isn’t very good. As long as Eva is able to go outside, to the nursery and to see her friends. If she didn’t have that, she would really miss it.
I am 4 years old. I like playing with my friends next door. I like digging for treasure in the mud in the garden. I found a dead mouse and mum had to pick the dead mouse up.
I have heard about Coronavirus. We call it germs. I don’t know what the germs look like. It could kill you. It’s on your hands, so we cough into our elbow to catch germs. Coronavirus is rubbish. I can’t go to soft play.
I am back to nursery. I was happy to be going back to my old nursery. My new nursery is rubbish. I want to be at home with mummy, not at nursery. My friend is at my old nursery. It’s good making new friends and playing with my friends. Not having nursery was boring. I liked playing in the garden. I made easter bunny food. We dressed up. I dressed up as a ring mistress from the circus. They say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen!’
This is my Play Doh Model called Me and Coronavirus. These are flowers at the castle. I went to the castle with my friend. We were hiding stones and I saw a dragonfly as well. One landed on my friend’s mum’s hair.
This is my Back to Nursery Picture. That’s me and my friend playing at nursery. We’re walking and holding hands. When is Coronavirus going away? Mummy said a few months. I’d like to know what it looks like.