What is the impact of Covid restrictions on our children?

It’s 2021, yay. We are still under tier 4 restrictions, boo.

Here in Kent it’s been a long while since the hazy days of summer and the distant memory of the October half term because we never really came back out of November lockdown 2.0.

Life in tier 4 isn’t all bad. And I should add, that I also support the decisions made to try and control the virus; we aren’t thrilled about it, of course not, but we are committed to following the rules, to playing our small part, to keep others safe.

As the Christmas decorations and weekends watching Home Alone commenced, we had our first self isolation block, when Tigs’ teacher tested positive for Covid. A couple of weeks of home schooling one child at the dining table alongside my laptop was ok. We managed, it was fine.

Nonetheless, it was a happy day when I returned my laptop to my office desk in the bedroom… for all of 24 hours before her sister was sent home from school, having been in contact with a confirmed case.

Again, for ten days we got by. She was over the moon to not leave the house, and made a much better effort with the home schooling than the abysmal lows of the spring.

Before making her return to school, a second contact pushed back her quarantine to the last day of term – the last day which was in fact brought forward by three days when the school could no longer function on the ever diminishing numbers of staff.

With Christmas socialising off the table, we made the most of a break from work and home schooling, and of our time together.

Perhaps it’s the lack of structure, or the contact with others during a time which would normally be hyper-social, but there are certainly cracks appearing for all of us.

It is after all almost five weeks now that our six year old has spent time with anyone other than us. She hasn’t been anywhere other than for a stomp around a country park, quiet beach or play area.

And whilst us, as her parents, are finding solace in the escapism of the great outdoors, the kids are reacting in quite the opposite way, happily opting for the life of a hermit if they had their way.

We have had to start becoming tactical in the getting them outdoors – granted it’s bitterly cold, and we are avoiding places where any people might be (aka anywhere vaguely interesting), but the resistance is becoming… challenging.

Of course time indoors in mid winter has it’s advantages, and we have tried to find the balance between fighting the battle and embracing lazy days at home. The trouble is, even with a house full of brand new Christmas toys, there is only so much Nickelodeon I can take.

Screen time has hit an all time high, with new devices, games, the ever continuing Roblox obsession and new Disney infinity characters.

For Tigs in particular, who was recently diagnosed with ADHD, we can definitely see changes in her mood and behaviour if screen time overflows. Yet with her challenges with mobility, we equally understand that long walks probably don’t appeal as much as they should. She loves a computer game that girl, and would happily get lost in the adventure morning to night if we let her.

So we are trying to distract them, to occupy them, to get out the toys and to drag them to bounce on the trampoline in the garden. To paint, to bake, to draw and to play. But, we too, are tired, bored and probably craving a bit of staring at a screen time ourselves, let’s be honest. So, we are aiming for balance, as best we can.

The bickering has hit an all time high, momentarily replaced with moments of sisterly love and friendship which make my heart melt. Ultimately, I’m so grateful the girls have each other for some kind of social interaction, even if that is learning how to push each others buttons, and how to apologise, three thousand times a day.

Of course post Christmas all routine goes out of the window, and as we face day one of term (at home) this coming Monday, part of me is grateful we won’t have to face the 7am alarm. The downside of this is of course kids who haven’t burnt off their energy during the day, complaining they still can’t get to sleep… at ten thirty.

School won’t be opening it’s doors for us, but the expectation to keep learning has been made clear – regardless of whether you work or not, we are continuously told the children’s education has to be prioritised. Far from ideal when you are expected to be present and professional over Teams for 8 hours a day.

I’ve no doubts that we have to try and get into the new term mindset; get to bed earlier, push harder for some daily activity, get dressed first thing and make the expectations for school work clear. But the thought of more weeks indoors, juggling the day job with being a teacher, Mum, referee, is a bleak thought. It’s no fun for us, and I have no doubts at all, that feeling is shared by the kids.

I know I am not alone, and I also worry for the plenty of kids who haven’t been forced out for walks every other day (at all), who don’t have a sibling to fight with, or who have never had to argue back with Mum or Dad when screen time is over.

Kids are adaptable, and boy they have had to be in the last year. I only hope that they get a chance to adapt back to normality; mixing with friends and family, being taught by actual teachers in real life, meeting in restaurants and swimming pools and parks, and going to other peoples homes soon. Because my word, they need to.

x MMT

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