Emma and Jake’s story

Emma lives with her 3-year-old son Jake, his older sibling, and two other school-age children for whom Emma is kinship carer.

Images from Emma and Jake’s discussion.


Lockdown happened quickly, what was that like for you at the beginning?

At first, because I didn’t know what was going on I was panicking, but had to deal with it. And then when things closed we were just feeling like trapped in the house all the time. It was hard to occupy everybody, do school work with some of them. So, when it was in the first week of lockdown I got my mum to go to Argos and get a trampoline, that’s all we’ve had, but we’ve got the fields and the woods out the back, so we’re good that way, being able to be out and nobody about, that was handy.

Did Jake understand it? Did he ask questions?

No, not really, it was more the two other younger ones in primary school, they were like they thought that if they went out they were going to die, or if they got it and passed it to me what were we all going to do because I care for them, so it was more of a panic for them.

So Jake had a hub space every day and then the other two got the hub place in the school, so they were there, but then they got a bit scared, worrying what would happen if they caught it, so they eventually just stayed off and only Jake came to the nursery hub. So for the older ones, I couldn’t have them worrying, so it was a better decision just to help them do the work online. They’ve all got their own tablets so the older one she just set up her own work, the other 2 are in the same class.

And my older one, she’s maybe on the autism spectrum, it’s very confusing for her, she couldn’t understand what was going on. So I just tried to make sure they were all alright, I didn’t really take it so seriously, I just focused on things like staying in.

Did you lose any support you needed during lockdown?

No, not really. The kinship worker phoned every week to make sure we were alright. When it started to ease a wee bit they would deliver packs of things, like books and toys but I had a lot of support from the kinship team. Social work weren’t really in the office. But it’s not like I need much support from them. But like I say the kinship guy was really good, he gave me his number and said if there was any problems just to phone.

We had to do some medical appointments over the phone for Jake, but actually that was quite handy, not to have to go all the way to the hospital. I think it’s a lot easier to do some things over the internet like that.

We had actually just moved to this area to be nearer my mum and support but when it started she was away and so we were waiting for her to come home. I thought I’d be all by myself. Like how would I go to the shops, would I have to take everyone with me? But then my mum got back and she would do our shopping, leave it by the front door. But no contact with anyone apart from through the window or on the phone. You know I didn’t mind it so much. I like my own space, and because you’ve got the bairns playing and I have to look after them, you know your mind isn’t on it. But some days it was like oh my god what am I doing? We’ve already been to the park, or to the woods… You run out of things to occupy them, they start getting bored and arguing and fighting.

Was there anything about those months of lockdown that you liked or the kids liked?

Probably spending more time together, normally they’re at school, you have tea, it’s bedtime and you don’t normally have that quality time. During lockdown we were with each other constantly so it was like we were bonding and being together, I liked that part of it – well to a certain point when they all start greetin! But seriously, it was spending time together, it was comforting just watching a film together, doing lots of arts and crafts, then you discover what’s going on in their heads too. I’ve got a big arts and crafts drawer, they love making stuff and making a mess, we just keep it all in the same place.

What was the toughest aspect?

Probably although I’ve had the bairns to talk to, I haven’t had adult conversation. And because we had just moved away from family and my pal group I was kind of isolated myself, so it was like talking to bairns all day. That was it, unless you phone somebody, but then they might be busy, with their own bairns to look after.

So how did you feel about them all coming back to nursery and school?

I was alright, because I know they’d have the handwashing and the one way system in place. But the high school didn’t make it mandatory to wear a mask everywhere, so my oldest feels a bit paranoid, people are touching everything in the high school. At least in primary and nursery they have their bubbles which is better. But having Jake back at nursery, its good they can come, I don’t feel anxious about anything about him being back.

Looking ahead? What helps you as a parent and carer?

I just go with what it says on the news, I’m not phased. We’ll probably get it at some point. But its fine. I just wonder what will happen next. But if the schools carry on, using bubbles that’s ok. It really helps that the nursery and school is open, it’s like you need a break as well, and the bairns need a break from being in the house all day with others. After the first week it was enough.

So I’m just wondering what will happen today with Nicola Sturgeon. Because having a bit of normality back has kept me going – going to the shops without queues. It would be good to know we’ve got normality back, knowing you can just go see your grannie, have that 5 minutes with somebody else.

I agree with the washing of hands but you do need to pick up germs. I don’t what the kids to be germophobes, I want Jake to play in the mud and pick up worms. But now as soon as his hands are dirty he’s like ‘oh’. I worry it’s been taken too far. Personally I don’t know anybody who has had it, well one person who didn’t feel so bad. So you feel, is it true, and it’s all over the place. It’s difficult, trying to prevent it, or not knowing if you’ve had it. It’s confusing.

About Jake’s drawings

Jake didn’t want to speak about his drawings but his Mum helped: This drawing is his favourite thing at nursery, just being outside, he likes playing on the chute and in the sand. He learned to cycle his bike when lockdown started, we got everyone new bikes when we moved house. His Play-Doh model is him on his bike and will be a strong memory of those months of lockdown.