Our feeds are currently flooded with how hard parents are finding this new stuck-at-home life, but what about the kids? Lizzie Gore-Grimes talks to three different families in different scenarios across the country to find out how they’re coping...
The Balfe Family, Ellie, Lulu (11) and Anna (8)
Blended family in Dublin with children moving between parents
ELLIE SAYS: My gang are adapting quite well to the quarantine restrictions really. Initially, the kids went into instant holiday mode; downright delighted with themselves and the prospect of multiple lazy mornings spent scrolling through YouTube.
But after I processed the initial shock of it all (I cried a bit, stared blankly out windows, and took a good few of what I called ‘trauma naps’), I sprang back into something a bit more like myself. I created a daily routine with the kids to give some semblance of structure to their day. It begins with exercise; either yoga or P.E. with Joe Wicks (I’m already over it), and then they spend some time on school’ish activities - the Mathletics app, Irish on Duolingo, art, creative writing etc.
We stick to it loosely - very loosely. I just don’t think this is the time for forced learning, and I’m no teacher, so we are playing to our strengths by weighting the time towards art, reading and writing. I’ve decided to leave academia to the professionals. I think it’s better for us all that way!
My girls were going to visit their Dad each Wednesday night and every second weekend, and my partner’s son came to stay with us. We agonised over whether it was right to continue to move the kids
We are lucky to live beside the sea so the rest of the days are filled with walking the dog (within our 2km) to the beach, various forms of snacks, and me snatching time to write and work while they sit for too long on their devices. I felt some guilt at the amount of screentime hours we are all racking up, but I’ve let it go - what is the point? These are extraordinary times - we are adapting as best we can.
As we are a blended family, my girls were going to visit their Dad each Wednesday night and every second weekend, and my partner’s son came to stay with us in rotation too. We agonised over whether it was right to continue to move the kids around during lockdown as it does undoubtedly increase risk and access to potential infection, but our collective view is that it is important for the kids’ emotional security to see all their parents as often as possible.
This worked well, but we now have a family member displaying possible symptoms, so we have locked down entirely. The girls are here with us and my partner won’t see his son for a couple of weeks. This doesn’t feel good or right, but we know it is.
There are sacrifices that have to be made to keep people safe. And isn’t that the point of it all - keeping the people we love safe. We can’t forget that.
LULU (11) SAYS: The Coronavirus is infecting people, mostly the old people, which is bad because I really love the old people in our family. I don’t like that I can’t go to see my friends or my grandparents, and that we have to stay inside all the time, and I’m always worried that we will get infected. But I can stay inside and watch anime so that’s ok. It makes us understand that we have to spend our money wisely and wash our hands. I want the virus to die by April and everyone to be together again.
ANNA (8) SAYS: I’m sad that we can’t see our Ganz and Granddad but I love staying home with our Mum. I understand that we should wash our hands a lot and be more careful around other people. I hope this Coronavirus will be extinct soon.
The Curran Family, Louise and Olivia (8)
Single mum and daughter living in an apartment in Dublin
LOU SAYS: As a single mum it’s tricky, as there’s no break. So I just stay positive, try not to shout, and speak to my family and my amazing friends (you know who you are) as much as possible. For Olivia and I, it has not been that bad, we are so used to it being just the two of us at home. Of course we miss going out, seeing family and friends but we make an extra effort to keep in touch with texts, calls and Facetime.
I make a plan each day and stick to it as much as is possible. Getting outside in the fresh air is a must for us as we live in an apartment, so the daily walk is essential.
We have focused on the positives, PE with Joe in the mornings, days in our jammies, playing games, popcorn and movies, baking, knitting, reading and just hanging out. Overall, Olivia is coping very well, she misses her friends and family for sure and her routine, but she seems pretty content.
I make a plan each day and stick to it as much as is possible. Getting outside in the fresh air is a must for us as we live in an apartment, so the daily walk is essential. I have eased up on the screen restrictions (much to her delight… we even got Disney +) but to be honest I do my best to distract her with other things to keep her from the Square Babysitter. I have been totally honest with her about the seriousness of this pandemic, she has seen snippets of news but she is not shocked by them because I have not sheltered her from the get go.
I feel my biggest and most needed act of self care is to keep in touch with friends – feeling connected is so important during this time of isolation.
On the home-schooling front we are into a groove now and work is getting done, but it has taken us a while. I am not getting too fussed, we are just doing what we can each day. Olivia’s so lucky to attend a fantastic National School and we feel very supported by her teacher and the principal of the school.
For myself, lockdown has its pluses, especially on the self-care side of things – having time to apply body lotion - the luxury of it! I’m taking better care of my skin. More time, less rush is nice. I meditate each day for 10 to 15 minutes, sometimes twice if I need it, do some yoga. I feel my biggest and most needed act of self-care is to keep in touch with friends – feeling connected is so important during this time of isolation.
OLIVIA (8) SAYS: The best bit about all this is staying at home with Mum and doing fun things with her and chilling out and not having to go anywhere. I really miss my Granny, Grandad and Aunt and giving them a hug. And I am also really missing Mouse, the pony I usually ride every week.
I understand that we can’t see our friends and family at the moment because of the Coronavirus but that is better for them and us to stay safe. I have learned how to bake more and exercise inside and that I have to wash my hands more than I usually do to keep germs away. Now I realise that you can’t take your friends and family for granted.
The Prendergast family, Cliodhna, Patrick, Jake (14), Iseult (11), Milo (9)
Family of five living in rural Galway
CLIODHNA SAYS: We live near a small lake in Connemara, about 15 minutes from Clifden, so we are used to a relatively isolated lifestyle. Both my husband and I work from home so this does not feel very different from a work perspective apart from having the kids full-time in house.
I am a journalist and photographer and my husband has set up his own business working with independent hoteliers. My work has been vastly reduced over the last few weeks but I’m trying to see the positive in having time to concentrate on the children and cooking.
During these surreal times of lockdown we try to vary our days as much as we can, walking in the mossy woods when it’s raining, and the more open tracks or the greenway, which runs right beside us, when the sun comes out. We are huge nature lovers.
I had great plans for a family online yoga session every morning but after day two the children had zero interest.
Like most, we have been cooking furiously, enjoying trying out new recipes to stave off the boredom. Trying to shop only once a week is, in itself, a learning curve but it does mean that meals must be planned in advance which equates to a more seamless cooking routine and less wastage for sure. The kids are taking turns to cook dinner and we have a bakeoff planned.
I had great plans for a family online yoga session every morning but after day two the children had zero interest. I try to do a session when I can and my regular yoga teacher, Susan Grey, is doing a class on Zoom once a week which I live for.
MILO (NEARLY 9!) SAYS: It’s my birthday on Easter Sunday, which I am very excited about but maybe a little sad that my friends can’t join me. At least we have the woods around us for exploring.
I usually go to a school for dyslexia in Galway on Saturdays and I miss that a lot because everyone is so nice there. I don’t miss normal school but it is the number one place to see all my friends. I am keeping busy by doing nature walks – learning the trees around us; I saw an otter on the lake. It is very nice now that it is spring.
I think people are going to take better care of the environment after this.
ISEULT (11) SAYS: We live near a hotel in Connemara and it’s so weird not seeing people at the hotel either on walks or staying there. So far I’ve learnt how to make a pinhole camera and fudge. I also cooked bacon, cabbage and mash with parsley sauce for dinner the other night. We are trying to take our minds off the virus by baking and cooking nice things.
My mum, my two brothers and I found an old ruin of a house in the woods so we showed Dad and then went up the next with axes and saws and started to rebuild it using large branches. We started a nature trail and we’re trying to identify all the different trees around us.
We have been spending a lot more time outside and doing art. I go on video calls with two of my friends each day and that’s good fun. I think when all of this is over our communities and families will grow much closer and appreciate each other much more.
JAKE (14) SAYS: We don’t get bored here, because there are so many things to do. We can go and play in the woods beside our house, play hurling outside or cycle a little on the greenway. Another thing we are doing while under lockdown, is building a house in the woods. It is our challenge to find sticks, chop logs, and gather stones to turn this house into a den with a waterproof roof before quarantine is over.
I, like every 14-year-old, I assume, am starting to miss my friends. Even without the virus it would be weird not to see them for more than 4 days, but this could take months to blow over. I hope everything goes back to normal soon, but in the meantime, I’m happy here.
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Featured image by Cliodhna Prendergast