How are you?
Hello, how are you? It’s Heulwen here, Founder of Mam Cymru. First of all, thanks to everyone who has e-mailed and been in touch with ideas, content and enquiries during the last few weeks. I’m trying my best to go through everything and reply when possible and I’m very grateful for your continued support.
So, how’s life? I’ve lost track of how many weeks have passed since we’ve been at home now. Elsi and I haven’t left our little village at all, thanks to my husband who’s been doing all the essential shopping. Although I’m more grateful than ever for the fact that we live in the countryside with plenty of footpaths and mountains to explore quietly and safely, it’s starting to become boring seeing the same places all the time. I feel guilty for saying that because I know that life is much more challenging for many, but it’s important to share our feelings honestly.
In the first week, I was glued to the television and radio, watching every news clip and update and getting more and more stressed every day. I learned very quickly that this wasn’t good for me or Elsi, it was damaging to our mental health and I couldn’t sleep. By now, I may watch one clip a day … and that’s it.
Keeping Elsi happy is the priority for me and Gareth, my husband. At the beginning of the period it was a bit like the school holidays, the weather was nice and Elsi could spend the majority of her time in the garden, on the river banks, on the trampoline or cycling while watching me getting more and more out of breath trying to jog alongside her! There were daily water fights, barbecues and toasting marshmallows on the fire – Elsi has mastered the craft of creating a fire by now and is very proud of that! During the last week, the sun has disappeared and Elsi has missed her friends more and more. It’s a long time for them, isn’t it?
As with every only child, I think that this period is very difficult for her. It’s not normal for her to be in the company of adults all the time, and although we’re a close family and great friends, she misses being able to play face to face with her friends. Fortunately, she has a wide circle of close and loyal friends, and receiving phone calls, Facetime and Skype calls and the letters that arrive every week is a great help. I’ll never forget the kindness of these little girls and boys. I’m so grateful and proud of the way she deals with it all and she’s open to discussing her feelings and bounce back; she’s certainly learning life skills at the moment. When this is all over, the ‘garden party’ she’s organising with her friends and cousin WILL happen!
School work?! Not during the first weeks, the priority was to have fun and keep Elsi smiling. The school’s attitude is excellent, they are so supportive and receiving weekly e-mails and a call from the lovely teacher means a lot. We are now receiving tasks that ‘can’ be done with the children during the week, one little task a day, which are mostly fun and the technology is convenient, and there’s no pressure to do all of them, which is great.
I’ve learned that I’m not a ‘natural’ teacher. I’m great when things are going well and fun, but when it’s a challenge, it’s a challenge for everyone isn’t it?! I respect the teachers even more now… and I won’t forget that! Gareth and I continue to work full time at the moment, so the reality is that the school work has to fit in with our work schedules. Supporting Elsi’s education is very important to us, but this isn’t the priority for us as a family at this point.
How am I? Thanks for asking! I’m okay on the whole, but I’ve had a few grey days when this new routine has made me feel glum and emotional, and I feel guilty for everything! I don’t think I’m alone? I’ve discovered that fresh air and taking a break are the best ways of getting over this and looking at the bigger picture beyond the four walls is important.
I launched my own business @llaiscymru – a marketing, events and media company a week before the lockdown… unfortunate timing?! There’s never a right time to venture into business and becoming self-employed, but this could have been the worst timing possible! Fortunately, and ‘touch wood’ as they say, I have been very busy and I’m very, very grateful for that. Again, that guilt kicks in, because in sharing this I know many people who are out of work or who have lost their jobs during this period.
Time is the biggest challenge for me at the moment. I’ve been getting up at 6 and starting work at 6:10 in order to get a couple of hours in before everyone else gets up, and then most of the time I’m in and out of the office until about 22:00 in order to complete the work for clients and sharing the work of caring, cooking etc. I have to make the most of this busy time because many of the events I was arranging for the summer have been cancelled, so it could be a very different world for the business in six weeks’ time. But! I’m keeping positive and taking one week at time – another good coping mechanism!
Beyond work, I miss the parents and friends at the school gate, I miss my family and upset that I’m unable to comfort family members and others who are experiencing bereavement and serious illness at the moment. That’s very difficult. I miss the little things such as going for a walk on the beach, Nia Lewis’ fitness classes, a salad in Medina in Aberystwyth and the hairdressers!! It’s a good thing that I’m in this quiet little village because, to be honest, there’s no two ways about it, I’m a complete mess between this hair and the rags and crocs I wear every day (I can’t believe I’m admitting that I actually own crocs!) Everyone who knows me will be surprised to learn that I haven’t been anywhere near a dress in over six weeks! I can’t wait to have an excuse to wear make-up, put on a colourful dress and to have my hair done rather than this messy mop.
Before I finish, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all those that are continuing to work to look after us and keep us going over this period. Doctors, nurses, paramedics, carers, teachers, cooks and food producers, those delivering food and goods to our homes so that we don’t have to go out, the royal mail, all local shopkeepers and everyone else I’ve forgotten. Amid all the challenges there’s even more to be grateful for and lessons to learn and positive changes around us, and we must focus on these.
Stay safe and make sure that you and the children are smiling – that’s what’s important. A big cwtsh to you all and bye for now, Heulwen X
PS – Elsi and I have been busy making a Welsh podcast for kids to try and help them connect with each other and keep smiling during these challenging times, Elsi’s the boss here, not me! If you would like to listen to Pod y Plant click here.