Fiona lives with her son Logan, who is 5 and Logan’s older sister.
Images from Fiona and Logan’s discussion.
Have you talked about coronavirus with your child? What does he understand about it?
Yes, especially towards the beginning of lockdown. We talked about it quite a lot and it was on the telly quite a lot, and the radio. It was quite overwhelming at the beginning. There were questions at the beginning about, you know, where it was and how you caught it so it was just about reassuring him really. There was a bit of frustration with all the handwashing. We all had really dry skin which was frustrating for him. So we say it’s a virus, it’s something you can pick up and it’s invisible. It can be passed from person to person.
How do you think Logan feels about coronavirus?
It’s difficult. Sometimes it’s time to sit and concentrate on a subject for a while…I’m not sure actually, I think it’s probably changed since the start. As time has gone on and he’s gone back to school, I think we’ve got a bit more blasé about things.
The lockdown started in late March. Can you remember what it was like in those
It was really testing. Logan and his sister are co-parented by myself and their Dad but there were questions about that initially as well we were two houses so there was a lot of…it was difficult in the start. But the kids threw themselves into their learning straight away and made a lot of use of things like WhatsApp calling and Facetime you know? But it changed everything overnight. I had to stop work as well so I was here all the time. It was difficult.
Remembering that experience from March and the weeks that followed, what changed for you and your child?
I think in some way maybe it’s done us a favour because we got that one-on-one time. It was enforced, thrust upon us and it would never happened in another situation – you never get that amount of time just to be with your child and focus on them. So that was lovely. That was really nice and we did make the most of that. And do you know, doing things that we probably don’t do enough of. I taught him to play chess and drafts and we did a whole load on flags. So we decided to learn all the flags together – you know, something you wouldn’t really do in the hustle and bustle of daily life. So that was a positive for me. I have seen a fair amount of anxiety. Personally, it’s triggered some anxieties. Also, when they went back to school, that was a source of anxiety because you’re not used to it anymore. Yeah, a bit of unrest and generally boredom for the kids as well. It’s difficult to say ‘no you can’t go and see anyone’.
For me, at least for the first couple of months I didn’t see any of my friends. I think it’s difficult for me as I don’t have family anywhere near. They’re all so far away and even now, I still haven’t seen any of them. That’s been a difference as they’re not seeing their grandparents or their aunty, cousins…yeah, as I went on, I picked a couple of friends and a couple of families who we are close to and we’d meet in the garden but yeah, that has been tough. Especially with me being here just myself for the couple of days when the kids go to stay with their Dad.
Throughout though we have had the garden which we share with our neighbours. It had a massive effect cause the kids spent a lot of time outside. Whenever it’s dry, the kids are outside. And also then neighbours’ dogs had a positive impact on the children. For them, they’ve done more physically – more exercise, more walking. It’s impacted my physical health. These corona kilos just creep on so there’s been a bit of weight gain and my mental health has taken a dip as well – especially around April time, there was a bit of a period when it was quite difficult.
Were you able to continue to work in any way during the lockdown?
No, I couldn’t. So I was in (sector)… I was in two jobs which I was furloughed from and I haven’t been able to go back to either of them. I was lucky enough to get a job six weeks ago. So I’ve gone into (key worker role) which has changed things as although I’m not frontline that has upped the risk a little bit.
What was learning at home like?
I’ve got a phone and we’ve got a laptop that the children could use for Microsoft Teams with the school. We’ve got a google home hub which was quite helpful actually because you can just ask it a question and it’d give you information so when these two were trying to find out things for projects they were doing at school, they could go and ask it rather than…cause we only had the computer, if one’s on it, the other couldn’t use it. So that was quite useful.
Learning was probably was quite heavily based around screens so a lot of the work the school would send us needed to be printed off and I don’t have a printer so that was a real issue. So a couple of people we know and some friends roundabout would print off some of the stuff but yeah a lot of the time we didn’t. We had to adapt it. The internet connection is alright – a bit up and down. It has got worse, actually. You could see the difference when everyone was at home and using the internet as it got worse and slower.
Closing the school was huge though. It had a huge impact on us. I guess because you know, it was the lack of routine. Family life is based around school. You base all your daily activities you do them all in the evening after school all year, and you book holidays during school holidays and now, there’s just nothing. It’s just a string of days. Is it a week day?! Is it a weekend?! There’s nothing different, they’re all the same! The days are all the same.
Did Logan like or enjoy anything about the lockdown?
Yes, we got a jam jar, and inside it we put all the things we want to do after lockdown. A few travel based things. Get all of David Walliams’ books after lockdown ends! I think he enjoyed having more family time and generally just more time together. He loved being outside too.
Was there anything he didn’t like or had trouble with?
I think not seeing his friends was a big one. I also remember him saying to me that it was difficult going between the two houses. Normally they can walk there themselves and we had got into the habit of doing that all the time. He said to me that it was difficult not being able to do that. I think it was the lack of routine that was difficult.
What was most challenging for you in terms of parenting during that time?
Gosh. It was difficult but it was also quite rewarding having all this time. I don’t know…taking the situation as it was, I don’t know if there could have been any more support because I had the support of my ex-husband – we managed that situation as well as we could – and friends and neighbours were great. Yeah, I guess for me, the one thing that was missing was family. Just too far away. But I don’t think I needed any outside support that I didn’t get. We’re lucky because we live in this small village and everybody just kind of chips in and all on the lookout for each other. Because we have this big window at the front of the house, every time one of our friends used to walk by, she used to dance for us through the window. And you know, on some days, it’s those little things that make you smile. There’s a lot of that about in the village.
Have things started to change again recently?
There’s less importance put on it right now. People are just wanting to get back to normal and are maybe getting a little bit lax on all those things – like, you know, the handwashing and certainly the two metre rule. I’ve seen lots of people too close together. For us, it’s been socially, it’s been great to meet with the couple of families we picked who we’re close to and like, you know, later on we’ll round to theirs for dinner. That’s been really good.
When it was announced that the schools would be reopening, how did you feel about that?
I was glad but nervous. I’m still not sure I realise just how different it is for them. And how their day differs to how it used to be. I’ll drop them at the front gate. I’m too nervous to go in any further and I know there’s people mingling around and I’m not going to do that. I understand if you’ve got a P1 and they’ve just started, obviously you want to be there. But I don’t know where I really truly understand what it’s like – I get snippets of information from the kids about what they’ve been doing but I’m not sure I understand just how different it is for them.
Before, was school in touch to explain about what the changes would be?
Yes, they did get in touch by email. I guess there’s only so much they can give you in an email. We got the whole ‘you’re not allowed in the playground’ thing but it was only a couple of days before they started so it was quite late. That information was quite late. I think a lot of people were struggling because we didn’t know they were definitely going to open either – that information wasn’t really given to us in…but it’s difficult isn’t it. A difficult decision to make.
Do you think anything has been particularly difficult about the return to school?
Not really. There was a bit of disappointment from the kids – especially for Logan because he wasn’t allowed to take a football in. That was quite difficult because that’s what he spends his time doing with his pals in the playground. The school has had quite a big focus and push on getting them back together – re-socialising the children. One thing they did throughout lockdown was a school assembly on Teams each week. It was difficult because there was so many trying to get on but that was quite good. There were songs, readings…they did talk a little bit about coronavirus but it was mainly just all positive stuff.
Do you have any concerns or worries looking ahead?
Yeah, I think we’re at the point now where these new rules are coming in and it does concern me that we’re going to go backwards. I think it’s inevitable that that’s going to happen. I think we’re going to probably have to go back into lockdown – I mean I hope it doesn’t happen but Nicola Sturgeon hasn’t ruled it out has she? That would be quite concerning.
What would help you as a parent/carer in the coming months?
I’m not sure. For a lot of people, I think there are a lot of financial worries. You know, if I hadn’t got my new job, I’d be jobless and we wouldn’t have had any income because the furlough stopped. I can imagine it’s really difficult for a lot of people financially. Thinking about going into winter and having all these rules…it’s not a nice thought. I’m not sure – I might get back to you.
What do you think would be the best way to support your children in the coming months?
I think it’s communication. They need to be in touch with others – their friends obviously. School communication as well. It’s not been the best. I’m not sure how much the school discusses coronavirus with the children. I think it can be scary for the children if they see things on the news or, you know, adverts. Particularly charity adverts are jumping on the whole coronavirus bandwagon and I wonder whether there might be an argument for special little times on the TV that are aimed at children. I saw something on Facebook before the kids went back to school and it was Jason Leitch but it was aimed at kids just telling them not to worry and they loved watching that. Little bits of media like that would be great.
I am 6 years old. I like to play with playdough. I like to make tunnels for my cars.
Coronavirus is bad. You need to avoid it! You need to try and avoid coronavirus. It’s a disease. It started with someone eating a bat. If you see any drunk birds going crazy, they’ve got it! I made it up. I think there are coronavirus birds.
I don’t really know how I’ve been feeling about it. I was a bit worried because I didn’t want our lives to change.
I am back at school now. I’m in Primary 3. It feels quite good because I can see my friends again. I’ve also liked seeing my teacher. I’ve felt a bit nervous too.
Some things are different at school. The library in our classroom has moved. We also started a self-register. It’s a thing that you…well, you say your name so the teacher doesn’t have to. You take a picture of yourself and stick it somewhere on the cupboard in our classroom. That’s something different.
I prefer learning at school.
This drawing is called Coronavirus and Me: It’s a corona clown. The cheetah is running away from the corona clown because he doesn’t want to get Coronavirus. He wants to stay safe and not die. He will die if he gets Coronavirus. It’s a rainy day and there’s a rainbow too.
This drawing is called Back to School. Well, it’s a picture of school with a dog going through it which you’re not allowed at school. No dogs are allowed in the playground. Kids are the only people allowed there now. And teachers. Adults aren’t allowed because they have to social distance. At school, you can’t be children who are older than 11. If you are older than that you have to social distance.