OUR VICE CHAIR IS NOT AN NHS EXPERT, AN IMMUNOLOGIST OR IN ANY WAY A SCIENTIST. THIS IS HER PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF SELF ISOLATION WITH HER TIPS AND IS NOT NHS ADVICE!
Well, we are in Day 5 of Quarantine after Artemis started her dry cough. We are all finding things hard. We have had one friend who we saw Sunday who has almost certainly got ‘it’ (he’s a doctor; I trust him on this) and we returned from London last week so potentially we could have picked it up. I have turned into even more of a hypochondriac than I was before. Today I was mildly sweaty and running at 37.1*c. DRAAAAAAAMA!
I now feel fine I should add. Still. I have no idea what is going to go down in the next few weeks.
I had visions of how we would get jobs done around the house during a lock down and how we would spend time as a family.
Mostly we are surrounded by washing.
Rich is in the kitchen working from home and getting in our way (I am assured he has managed to source a desk so he can go into the spare room next week) and Artemis and I are fed up of each other and bored. It is very hard to find things to occupy a toddler and being pregnant, I am tired and a bit down (I have had a diagnosis of perinatal depression which isn’t helping) and just fed up of all this. I reached a true down point yesterday when honestly, I couldn’t see how this was going to end happily, but have rallied today. I thought I’d do a post about staying sane and keeping your family going through these times, especially when batting with uncertainty about your pregnancy..
MY GUIDE TO HOW TO STAY SANE
It’s ok to not have a timetable planned – You’re not Mary Poppins. Dude, you’re not even Nanny McPhee. There are some terrific websites out there like this facebook one which have loads of ideas to do with kids but in all honesty, it made me more frantic that I should be doing more with her then watching Peppa Pig, digging out the paints or colouring once in a while and then going to the park avoiding people on the way. Some of the ideas were amazing but tbh the work for them just exhausted me for the 5 minutes of stimulation she will have had from them.
Others of you may have older children and feel the need to home school them. Just….stop. Let’s all stop. They were due on school holidays in a week. Were you going to home school them then? Exactly. Let them go bonkers in the garden, watch Frozen 2 on repeat or just bother each other so long as they do it upstairs. If they have been given school work to do then do your best. But you’re not a teacher.
Plan a few activities sure, but don’t put it all on you. If you don’t have kids yet, just be thankful. If you want to do it, make snack boxes etc, go for it. If you just think ‘I can’t!!’ then don’t. Literally NO-ONE is judging you. We have got through a packet of ginger biscuits in a week bribing my daughter and I definitely have no shame….
Get outside – I am one of those people who likes to watch nature from inside. But by day 4 I was climbing the walls despite a few trips to the park. Rich suggested we get outside and take a trip to Farmoor reservoir with a picnic (which we ate British style in the car) in his lunch break. So we all bundled up, got in the car and got some air. It was raining. It was wonderful. We saw two older ladies who we passed at 3 metres and said hello to. Today we went to the Bird Sanctuary just outside Radley. Artemis poked her eye with a stick and then half fell in the lake. It was brilliant.
National Trust have opened their grounds, parks are pretty safe so long as your child doesn’t hug other children and it’s a pretty time of year. I also have plans to dress her up in wet weather gear, battle my hatred of nature and GARDEN. Yes….garden. If you have a bucket and sponge and a paintbrush, get them to ‘paint’ the shed or ‘wash’ the car while you get your frustration out on hacking back those bushes. Trimester 3 ladies, take it easy please and if you have just given birth maybe sit this one out…..!
I should add I have taken then NHS guidelines seriously. We haven’t attended any shops or public spaces. But we HAVE gone out. We have stuck to the car, walked and then got back in our car. That is it. If you feel you need to stay at home and only use the garden and have interpreted the NHS instructions as such then do so. If you take the car out you MUST be careful to avoid any contact with others. As was pointed out by one of my Chairs, although a playground feels ok, you can still leave traces of virus. Unlikely, but possible. So use nature as a playground and avoid the man made ones.
Re-connect – The internet still works. This is your chance to get in touch with people. Don’t worry if your kid gets hissy at you not paying them attention. Stick Peppa on and if it gets bad, try again in 20 minutes. Even if you get 5 minutes of having a good moan, it’s worth it. So far I have scheduled loads of calls with friends and it’s been freaking great for my mental health. Happy Mum, happy kid. I have been encouraged Artemis to Skype with her friends. Sure, it lasts 2 minutes but they love it.
Make new friends – Are you a new mum? Recently moved and missing having local friends? Most local towns have Facebook ‘mum’ group’s. Join and post! ‘New mum looking for support and friends during self isolation’. MUSH is also a great App for parents to connect with each other. Having those people there with you will be invaluable after the baby arrives and it’ll be really fun all meeting properly for the first time.
Get fit – Like the weather, I am allergic to anything strenuous. I was about to start pregnancy yoga (gah) so wasn’t best please when this happened and I couldn’t leave the house. However! Many fitness groups are now going online and either offering free or reasonably priced classes. One Fit Mama and Fit and Healthy Mums are offering pilates and fitness classes, Sheglowyoga are another Oxfordshire company bringing their classes online.
You can access loads of ante-natal and post-natal classes through apps as well – Baby2Body does a great app (you need to pay for the majority of the fitness classes but I have enjoyed them) and there are loads more available. Joe Wickes also does free PE sessions for children. I will be hopefully bringing some ideas from Mel at Fit and Healthy Mums next week on how you can do fun workouts with your toddler (the dream) so watch this space…..
If you’re worried about finances, get on top of it now – I should start this by saying I am the absolute worst with money and know very little about it. I know this is very hard for many. I am very fortunate that Rich has been able to keep working from home. I have friends who are already frantic however as to how they will pay the mortgage. This is the time to put in contingency plans. If you have savings, work out what you need to spare. If you don’t, you need to start doing some research. Where can you claim benefits/pay if your pay has been stopped?
If you need to stay home with your children, has your employer agreed to pay you while you are off? If you have rent or mortgage payments, look at at the latest information on Gov.uk and make sure you have phoned your bank if you have an overdraft, your mortgage lender or landlord/rental company and can explain where you are and ask what their situation is. Money Saving Expert has some good advice as does Gov.uk.
The Chancellor today announced some plans which may help businesses and individuals. Bloggers like The Frugality have some great advice on how to cut down and save money as well putting your mortgage payments ‘on holiday’. You can find her blog on applying for a mortgage holiday here. However do be aware your interest payments WILL stack up so this is not a long term solution.
Plan (or don’t) – If you’re a planner, get the diary out! Assume this will have all blown over by November (I am not saying it will but let’s dream eh….) and get planning! Maybe you fancy a last minute holiday with the new baby, want to plan a party, need to cancel hotels for a wedding that may be cancelled or postponed, let friends know you won’t be coming to visit or will need to cancel their visit. You get the idea. Or don’t. Just…. assume people know. It’s up to you. Survive how you can. Just give it time. Whether it is 12 weeks (I am starting to think this is not the case), 6 months or a year and whether you want to gamble on this or play it safe, having things to look forward to will help.
Don’t panic about your birth or upcoming appointments – If you’re a first time mum (or a second to third etc) and you’re worried about how your birth and pregnancy are going to pan out, please please be assured it will be ok.
One of the things that is upsetting me the most about this entire situation is that you won’t have the pregnancy or the birth you imagined. Hospitals have restricted births to one birth partner and some have made the decision to then ask partners to leave with highly restricted visiting hours for just one person. I won’t lie, I had the Usbourne first visit in mind where my daughter would get to meet her new sibling in hospital and it would be all yellow and fluffy and lovely. Now I am thinking…not so much. If you need to stay in hospital I would implore you to do so. If you feel well enough to leave then do so. But if you need help then you need help. Yes, it will be a lot harder without your partner there but you can DO THIS. And you’re not alone. We, and by we I mean the MVP and the wider maternity community, are with you.
The Oxfordshire Midwives and Health workers have got this and will make your experience as perfect as possible, while keeping you and other patients healthy and protected.
There are a few really helpful blogs coming out of this whole experience. Here is one from Sophie Messenger, a doula, who has some helpful advice in her most recent blog post. She raised a few points which I just shuddered at (one was the idea that my husband could have coronavirus and be refused to attend the birth) but was also very reassuring.
Look at anti natal classes online. The Daisy Foundation, NCT and many others have all moved online and there are also some good hypnobirthing online courses you can try. If you are really concerned, consider hiring a Doula to help you through the next few months and post-nataly.
Look after your mental health – What does this even mean. Happy Mum, happy bump, happy toddler, happy family or something like that. But have no doubt, this will be testing and there will be times when you will want to crack. We are used to going pretty much where we like, when we like. Fancy a MaccyD’s at 3am? No problem. Need some help from Mum and Dad for childcare? Sure! Got a bored toddler? Soft Play with a friend or two. Well, MaccyD’s is now closed as is soft play and Mum and Dad are in their 70s so I can’t go near them unless I have self isolated for a while.
This is what I have struggled with in the past 5 days. It’s the fact that I can no longer do what I want when I want to do it.
I worry that there is a brattish, over entitled mentality in me which makes me feel ashamed. Except, it isn’t brattish. It’s just what I’m used to. And I will have to change those habits for a while and I am not happy about it. Once I had a day of feeling sorry for myself (day 2) I have actually found I have got used to it quicker than I thought I would. Ok, it’s day 5. I’ll see how I am doing by day 55. But in the main, it has got better with time.
As I have peri-natal depression I am trying to keep myself as balanced as possible. I want to return to work but having been signed off for a few weeks before I was quarantined, I need to be realistic about what I can manage. I work for a GPs surgery and I need to balance my safety against helping them out.
Getting outside has helped and accepting my daughter will be watching a lot of tele when I really do not have the energy to be up and entertaining her every few minutes some days have also helped with my mental health. This blog and my MVP work have also focused me into doing something other than binge watching ‘The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ on Netflix during nap time.
I have also used this as a time to do some meditation and work on some aspect of hypnobirthing. I have been reading ‘Your Baby, Your Birth‘ by Holly Du Cruz, and it comes with a fantastic night time relaxation track you can download even if you haven’t read the book. If you’re able to download this and listen to them just before bed, do so. The book ‘Mindfulness’ by Mark Williams is another great place to find relaxing tracks. They are all on Youtube and their relaxation tracks like ‘The Body and the breath‘ and ‘The Body scan‘ are brilliant to bring you back to yourself and find some calm. Ok, I am doing this between toddler wrangling but one thing I now have is time…..
If your partner is working from home, ask them to help. Yes they are working. However they can take your child or children out for a quick 15 minute walk on their coffee break (it will do them good too!) or take over lunchtime while you have a rest. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Everyone has to make sacrifices and everyone has to take their turn here. You cannot do this alone. Unless you are doing this alone.
As was pointed out by one of the committee who IS doing this alone, you don’t have the option to tag team in with someone. So you need to extra careful and kind to yourself. Facebook groups for single parents exist online. Join them. Even if it’s to have a moan. Finding’ solace with others will help. Re-connect with your other mum or dad friends, even if they are not single parents themselves. They may be able to come up with solutions like sharing lessons and streaming them so you can get some rest or catch up. And as I said above, this is not the time to limit TV or screens. You will need that downtime when they are absorbed or playing games with their now absent friends online. Take it. It is NOT forever.
If the housework needs to be done, so what. It will wait for the weekend when one of you can take the kids and the other can take on some housework until you can swop and exchange roles. This is not the time to do a Marie Kondo. Repeat, not the time.
It could be worse – OK, it’s bleak. But you know what? Most of us have warm, safe houses with central heating and access to food. This virus doesn’t affect children badly, thank goodness. We have the internet. And mobile phones. Most, if not all, of us bumps will be ok. And for many of us it will not affect us directly. It is not like bubonic plague or ebola – our armpits will not fill with pus and we will not be left in our houses to die.
It’s annoying and inconvenient and it will cause repercussions for a lot of people, and I hope we are all kind, generous and supportive enough to help those people through it afterward. But we will get through this and we will do it together.
Venice has DOLPHINS in the Canals. Freaking DOLPHINS! Animals have been seen wandering through deserted cities. People are starting to realise they have a lot of good things in their lives. We are literally using less toilet paper. Emissions will fall now people aren’t flying for pleasure or work. Who knows, this might mean working from home becomes an actual thing. The Tory Party are talking about coming together as a society to work for a common goal and they really mean it. We are seeing a huge, collective social experiment here in Britain which hopefully will work and make us all realise, we need to work together instead of individually for a lot of things. These are all amazing, good things.
It isn’t great. But it could be a lot worse.
How are you feeling about all this? We’d love to have your experiences and comments below.