Sandra lives with her husband and daughter Mia age 6 as well as two older siblings.
Images from Sandra and Mia’s discussion.
Have you talked about coronavirus with your child? How do you think they understand or feel about Coronavirus?
Yes. It’s hard not to, although probably not as much as other people. We call it Covid or Coronavirus. It’s a virus, a bug, that is travelling around the world and we need to do our best to stop spreading it. I say it can be quite dangerous, people do get very ill, people die from it. We’re lucky we don’t know anyone that’s had it, so it’s not affected us personally. I think one of the saddest things is we’ve not really seen granny and grandad much and that’s made it more real.
I’m not sure how much she understands really. I deliberately don’t give the kids too much information because I don’t think they need that. They don’t need to worry about it; that’s a grownup’s job. It’s helpful for them having siblings. They can distract each other from it, so it’s not just them. We don’t really let them watch the news with all the detail, we just sort of dilute it for them.
I think the worst part was when we didn’t know if schools were going back part-time, or if they were going to go back at all. And that was quite confusing, because it felt like you were giving information and then cancelling it. As long they understand that this is what it’s going to be like, it’s just going to change every week, and we can’t really predict what’s coming next.
So, she’s fine. She’s a very positive child anyway. I’ve not seen any change in her behavior patterns. She understands enough, but I deliberately don’t tell her things that might worry her. She’s been quite happy, and it hasn’t affected us. We’ve been quite lucky as a family, in that I was put on furlough, so I could really concentrate on the kids. My husband was working as normal from home, which he’s always done. So that didn’t change our balance. So, their lives weren’t turned upside down.
What was it like that first few weeks of lockdown?
The first thing was being worried about health. You start panicking about who has it. Have you got it? That was the initial panic. Then it was jobs. Panicking about do we have a job, what is furlough? Trying to get your head around what that was. I was always thinking long term about do we have jobs, are they safe. That was quite a worry. The first few weeks were just constant worry and unknowns about jobs and health, and trying to home school.
I work (in education) and was put on furlough. So, in a way, home schooling wasn’t daunting or worrying for me, because I’m in education. So, my kids lucked out! They probably didn’t think they lucked out. That part of it didn’t really daunt us. It was more worrying about other people. Friends and families jobs and health.
Not being able to meet other people was weird. I think we’re just quite lucky. We’re lucky we have a garden and the weather was brilliant so we spent loads of time in the garden and were talking to neighbours more than ever. And we’re really lucky with the park, the canal, the hill all on our doorstep, because you couldn’t even travel somewhere. We made sure we got out every day, rai nor shine.
Mia used to do some Facetime to see her friends, but at that age they weren’t that into it. I don’t think at that age she pined after anybody or missed anyone too much. We all had to get suddenly used to technology, liked Zoom and Skype, which we didn’t use much before.
Remembering the experience from March and the weeks that followed what changed for you as a family?
Me not going to work, being at home all the time. Not being able to think, not being able to go to the shop, not being able to meet a friend for coffee. Just little day to day things. We missed that. And planning ahead, just doing one big food shop per week. I quite liked that. I liked the slowing down. These kids do so many activities and none of us really missed that for that short time. Nobody was too miserable about it. I think they all missed their swimming lessons.
I was put on furlough very quickly and now I’m back which is totally weird. It’s obviously so different. At first I didn’t understand what furlough was. I was wondering if my job was at risk. Once I knew my job was safe and I’m getting paid I thought, ‘oh well. It’s not so bad.’ I didn’t mind being at home. It was quite nice. And it meant one of us could focus on home learning. I think it would have been different if his job was at risk, but his job was really safe and secure, so it was alright.
When it came to learning and being online we’ve got two laptops, two iPads. One laptop and one iPad are for my work. The older kids needed a laptop to do his school work. We had enough, just. If the three of them needed to be on, it was a bit of a juggle and I am not a computer whizz at all. We didn’t need to buy anything else, but if it had gone on a bit longer, we might have thought about upgrading them as some of them are a bit old. We coped fine with technology.
How was the experience of home learning?
She was totally fine about me teaching her. We got into a routine. Because I think you need that to survive your day. We’d get up, do a bit of Joe Wicks, though she didn’t really like Joe Wicks, she’d roll around the ground. By 9:30/10, we’d all be sitting at the table and would try to do a good 2 hours solid of something educational. Then in the afternoon we would have lunch and go for a big walk or something out. Everyone was better trying to get something done in the morning. It was quite hard with three of them at very different stages and abilities for school. I think I coped okay. I think I probably focused more on my eldest son, because he was transitioning to high school. I thought their school was pretty good at giving us information and getting back to your questions.
Mia is pretty able. There wasn’t anything she needed a massive input on. I tried to make sure that every day there was a bit of variety, so they wouldn’t go stir crazy. She didn’t really like maths.
Spending so much time together, everyone would get a bit short with each other. With three kids, there was always somebody who was a bit grumpy or having a go at somebody else. I don’t think there was anything that got her down. She was pretty positive.
But as a parent the hardest things was just being with the children all the time. You couldn’t just send the kids round to somebody’s house for a few hours. But really, I think the hardest thing was the utter monotony, you just needed to break it up. Some days we did absolutely no school work. We would just have a day in the garden or something different. Some weeks would go on and on. You know, “here we are again, at home again.” If the weather was good, everyone was on an upbeat, but if it was a bit of a grim day it was like, ‘ugh.’
Overall, how did the nursery/school closure affect your family?
The kids were gutted, obviously, that they weren’t at school. It’s a really positive place for them. They love their school, they love their friends, they love their football and whatever comes with it. They were upset not to be there. But it was quite nice: we all made these stones and painted them and put them round the school and the headteacher was fab, he made silly little videos for the kids to watch, the teachers were very good at emailing and keeping in touch. Sometimes it felt like it was a bit too much. They provided loads of stuff, a learning grid but we could adapt things and I knew where to look for resources.
With the easing of the original lockdown what has changed in the past month or so for you and the children – for better or not?
The positives are that it’s lovely they can start having friends round to the house or the garden, seeing their grandparents, aunties, cousins – that was a real moment. Driving somewhere a couple of miles away to meet a family member, that was quite exciting. Being able to travel somewhere and doing something a little bit different. We are quite lucky that we have friends very close by. And the children can go to their organised football team, which is great. Other things, well they found it quite weird going into a shop with a mask. Well it was quite novel.
But with them going back to school, of course, I was a bit nervous about how they’re going to keep safe and clean and about all the new rules. Ultimately though, I’m just delighted that there are just more normal days of being with their friends, being with their teacher. Kids adapt. I think, as adults, we worry more about that. I know there are some children who think about things very deeply and can get quite worried and anxious about it, but I was never worried about Mia. I just knew she would be fine. I suppose I wasn’t too worried as we don’t have any health issues in our family, don’t have any elderly people living with us. I know for children, it’s very hard for them to not cuddle and kiss. I was worried about how teachers were going to protect themselves. So, it was easy to decide to send them back to school. Absolutely. I was so keen for them to get back for their happiness. You always hear a few people questioning it and I think, ‘oh gosh, should I be worried about it?’, but I wasn’t worried about it at all.
Has anything been difficult about the return to school?
Mia has to talk to her friends over a line in the playground. That’s a shame. What we miss as a family, there would be a big crowd of us hanging out in the playground or in the park. That’s a shame, you can’t just naturally hang around all together anymore. But the school sent loads of information. All the information was there. I think the difficult thing was getting your head around all that: where to stand, where to go, where to line up, what times. Especially with three different gates and three different times. You just had to trust that the teachers knew what they were doing. The kids were coming back quoting all these rules. It was rules, rules, rules for the first week, which they got a bit fed up with, but they knew exactly what was going on.
Do you have any concerns looking ahead?
Yes. You can’t help but think: ‘When is this going to end? Is it going to end?’ Well, unless we’re all vaccinated, I don’t think it will end. Not being able to make plans. I think that’s affected me the most. I love making plans: meeting friends, going on a wee holiday, seeing grandparents. For me that’s been one of the first things, not being able to do that.
Luckily, it hasn’t affected any of us health wise but it’s just that constant worry – we’ve got to protect our vulnerable. The grandparents don’t have any health conditions, but they are being super careful. When they have come to see us, we have been outside, they take their own tea. I think they have been worried about us because we have started seeing people so, if they are going to get it, it will be from us.
What would help you as a parent/carer in the coming months?
Apart from it going away, there’s nothing realistic. Everyone’s just in the same boat. I don’t feel like we’re missing any support or information. We’re lucky that we are resourced in terms of the garden and technology, so no I don’t think there’s anything we feel we are lacking. I don’t feel like we’re unprepared or in a bad situation.
Just also to say that schools should continue to provide clear instructions, making sure we as parents know what we should be doing. Providing fun stuff as well, ideas of what to do, especially coming into winter. I think we are all right in that respect though.
I am 6 years old. I like to playing with my Barbies and doing Aquabeads. Mummy and me made up a game called Belle’s party. I find all my favourite barbies and we have a big party. My favourite is Belle. There was food and a disco party. And somebody nearly kicked over a bowl of food. My friend got me Aquabeads for my birthday.
I’ve no clue what Coronavirus means. I did know what it is when my mum and dad explained it. People can get the Coronavirus and it’s very bad, because there are lots of germs around the world. People can catch lots of germs and they can get a virus. They can move, I think, fast. What helps to stop it is by keeping washing your hands, so they don’t spread around the world.
I don’t feel that bad, because I’m happy that I don’t have the Coronavirus. It was weird when I wasn’t at school but I was happy because I could play more with my toys. Things that made me sad were that I missed my friends. It was fine not being able to see family and friends. I knew it would go away. It would get better.
I was learning at home, which was weird. And mum gave me lots of homework and I gave her lots of hugs. Being with my family made me feel a bit happier. I liked being around my house because it has all my toys and I can have a disco every day. I liked the French songs. I know French numbers up to 20. It wasn’t that bad for me. My brothers can get a bit feisty. They get so radge when they’re on their xBox or iPads.
When I first saw my cousins we filled up jugs and filled them up with water and had a water fight. It was so fun! I had a birthday, but I blew on the cake so other people couldn’t eat it because of Coronavirus, so other people got a space biscuit and we got to eat all the cake.
I am back at school now. It’s better and happier because I can see and play with my friends, and I can play with the paints in school. I’m in the P2 class. There are lines in the playground and you can’t cross the line. You can’t play with people in other classes because you can’t cross the line. You can play with other people when the Coronavirus is over. Some of my friends are in the other class, but most of them are in my class.
I was a bit scared but a bit happy. I was very confused by all the rules. And I was a bit scared that I would do something.
When we go to school you have to wash your hands a lot more. Every time you go into school you have to put hand gel on and there’s a one-way system. So let’s say you’re here, to go to the toilet you’d have to go all the way upstairs then down the stairs just to get to here. When you go to the toilet, the name of your class is on the toilet door and you can only go to that toilet. 25 children share than one toilet. Somebody in my class moved and we didn’t even get to say bye or give her a certificate or anything.
This is my Play-Doh model called Me and Coronavirus. This is Mr. King, Corona King, who poops out germs. He’s happy that he’s spreading germs. This is me trying to catch Mr King. I’m going to put him in jail. I’m going to catch him, but I’ve got poop-proof clothes on.” This is my picture called Back to School. This is my school. This is a blue door. This white thing here is how you get in with a teacher’s tab so you can open the door. This is me and my friends flying into school. I’m happy, because me and my friends are flying into school. We’re pretending. We don’t make noise because we’ll disturb our Headteacher.