Mam, I’m scared of the Coronavirus

Mam, I’m scared of the Coronavirus

It feels as if the world has changed overnight. A few weeks ago, I had never heard of the Coronavirus and now it’s everywhere; every conversation, every shop, every extended trip to the toilet to wash our hands, every time we sing happy birthday… everywhere. It’s trending on Twitter and headline news in every newspaper, and this is the only subject discussed on most programmes the world over. The Coronavirus has become an overnight star, and it’s now impossible to ignore it.

Image: Today’s Parent

As a parent and as a daughter, I’m worried. I’m worried about my daughter and husband, about my family, friends and neighbours. I’m worried about money, especially as I’ve just become self-employed last week, but that’s nothing compared to all the parents who rely on breakfast clubs and school meals to feed their children, and all those vulnerable children and parents who don’t feel safe at home. I’m really worried about these children and families. Before the Coronavirus, 1 in 3 children in Wales lived in poverty, and it’s very likely that this will increase now.

I’m an adult, I understand what I’m hearing, and although I don’t agree with everything, I understand the situation to some extent. But it’s a very different situation for our young children. Over the past few weeks, our children have heard all sorts of conversations about the Coronavirus, they’ve seen more news clips and images of people wearing masks and they’ve seen and felt how we as parents and other adults around them are worried. Teachers have been giving hand-washing lessons at school, and the children discuss the virus on the playground and come up with their own theories.

I’ve heard of children acting out the character of the Coronavirus which runs after the children and pretends to kill them. Many parents have told me that their children wake up in the night after having nightmares, or have wet the bed because they’re scared of the Coronavirus. Others have mentioned the frightening pictures their children have drawn of Coronavirus monsters killing their families. All of this is undoubtedly having an effect on our children’s mental health, and that worries me a lot.

School closures will be a challenging time for us as parents, it won’t be easy looking after our children, paying the bills and keeping sane. Yes, it’s challenging having to work from home and look after the children. Yes, it’s disappointing that the Urdd Eisteddfod and other events and holidays are being cancelled, and yes it’s true that you and your children will get on each other’s nerves more often. But at the end of the day, we as parents need to be sensible and level-headed, because it will be a really challenging time for our children too.

Their daily routines will go out of the window, they may not be able to see their friends or Grandparents for a long time, it may not be possible to have a birthday party, it may not be possible to go out and play in the sun, it’s unlikely there will be any spare money to enjoy treats. They will get sad, angry, upset…

The older members of my family always say that we are spoilt these days because things are so easy for us, while many of them have survived the war. Those in power have warned us all week that our lives will and have to change, we will have to be at home for long periods of time, face increasing poverty, job losses and worse. In the interests of our children, we must take it each day at a time,  without causing them further anxiety.

Facetime & Skype will be a huge help for those of us with access to technology, as we and our children will be able to connect with friends and family. We’ve also planned to send letters to school friends too and the kids are really excited about that. These little things will make a difference and they’ll be fun too!

It’s difficult to be positive all the time, but positive things come out of every negative situation and children need to see and experience positivity. I love seeing how the community spirit has been reignited in our community and many others over the past week. I have joined several local Facebook groups and our daughter came with us to visit our neighbours to give them our contact details and we promised to support them as much as we can. It’s awful to think that it takes a pandemic for this to happen, but reconnecting with our community and neighbours is a very good thing in the long run and it’s good to get the kids involved if it’s safe to do so.

If and when we self – isolate or go into lockdown, don’t panic in front of the children, we need to make the most of it and make it fun. Get the children involved in decision making, planning, cooking and the cleaning too of course! It’s an amazing opportunity to reconnect with our children, to support each other and the vulnerable individuals in our own immediate areas. Breathe, stay safe & keep smiling, we’re all in it together. Big hugs X

Heulwen Davies, Mam Cymru

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