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My Stages of Understanding COVID-19

The Beginning Stage

2 weeks ago I was seriously deliberating whether I needed some new pink snowboard mittens to match my pink goggles for my snowboard/work trip……fast forward 2 weeks and everyone is more or less house bound, people are separated from loved ones, kids no longer go to school, parents can no longer work…..and there is no loo roll!

COVID19 has escalated so quickly its unreal. Everyone has their own struggles and horror story to tell and its impacting everyone’s lives. I feel so trivial for wanting pink snowboard mittens (although they were lovely). I realise now this is far more than a missed snowboard trip.

 

The Schools Out for…..ever (??) Stage

I’m ashamed to say I really think I buried my head in the sand at the start. I’ve always had this amazing technique that when bad things happen, I can put them in a box in my head, put a smile on and get on with things. Nobody would ever know. Then on Friday, it was my sons last day of reception class….say whaaaat???!! For some reason it really hit me like a brick wall what an awful/ crazy/ surreal/ unexpected world we were living in. Ironic that the last blog on here I wrote was about my son starting school.

Seeing my sons little face saying goodbye to his teacher, seeing how his teacher was trying so hard to be so happy and smiling but was really trying to hold it together so well for her little comrades, knowing that that was his last day of his first year of school that was supposed to be all about fun and exploring, his little friends, his new world that he had just grown to love, his little brain that was just starting to click…….this broke me. It just seemed so unfair. It wasn’t meant to be like this.

Just to add here……my son really didnt know/understand what was going on and he was just more excited to get his “end of school gingerbread man” and get to watch way more TV everyday!!!! Just his mum that was a blubbering mess…..”hay fever”

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The Awareness Stage

The first time I was probably aware of COVID-19 was probably only a few weeks ago? I’m not an avid news watcher (sorry I know I should be), so probably just saw something on social media. But it seemed like one of those things that happened far away in distant lands and didn’t really affect us (sorry that seems awful too). I heard all about China, and then Northern Italy. People began to talk about cancelled ski trips (I work in the snowboard industry), and it began to dawn on me that I may not get to go to France snowboarding. And even if I did, there was a possibility of getting stuck there…away from my kids (although catching up on 5 years missed sleep did sound appealing…and did I mention the hot tub?!). It started to become more serious in my mind.

Then they locked down France. Needless to say, the snowboard trip was cancelled

 

The Denial Stage

For the next week, I’m sure like many others, I didn’t really know what to think??! Was this Coronavirus bad? Were people just making it out to be bad? Was the government just trying to scare us? Should I be going out? Should I be seeing people? Should my dad still childcare for me (he’s 73)? Should I be going to work? Where was “acceptable” to go? Should I still go to the gym? Should I be buying toilet roll???!! (silly people). I was so confused so just kinda bumbled a long like semi normal, many others seemed to be doing the same. And when we finally had a beautiful sunny spring day, it was hard to feel like there was anything was wrong at all.

The Confusion Stage

There seemed to be so much information out there and everyone had their opinions on what was right/ wrong. This almost seemed to divide people and cause judgement and anger if others did differently. I really didn’t want this to turn people against each other. Some had gone into isolation, some had pulled their kids out of school already, some were still going out drinking and for meals……I wasn’t quite sure what “camp” I sat in, torn whether to keep some normality for the kids OR to go into lockdown??? It still almost didn’t seem real. So, I just sort of just did a bit of both, but mainly just bumbled a long in some weird sort of daze looking a bit cross eyed? All I know is that for that week, Corona was on everyone’s mind and was all anyone could think/ talk about. Sometimes I found myself getting completely over-it and needing to switch off totally and watch Friends on Netflix (happy place).

 

The Realisation Stage

When the schools closed, it hit me. This was BAD. I became scared. Yes, the virus itself was AWFUL but the repercussions of it were equally terrifying. My mind began to think of my brother and his pregnant wife in NZ, my old (sorry mum/dad) parents, my uncle with COPD, my friends with new-born babies, friends separated from their loved ones, friends stuck on islands whilst travelling, teachers with no pupils, cancelled weddings, cancelled operations, cancelled holidays, cancelled house moves, friends having chemo, businesses going bankrupt, people having to now home school multiple kids whilst trying to work and provide food, people no longer being able to work at all…..this was going to affect absolutely everyone in some way. I know it’s not the war, but I did start to think maybe this is how a war begins?? People were doing silly things. People seemed angry, at each other, at the situation, at people’s reactions, at the government, at the lack of toilet roll. It would be easier to deal with if we knew an end stage? Was there an end to this??? Let’s just say my mind went into over drive, I just felt for everyone so much and their battles. The flood gates had opened, pass me the chocolate.

I also realised there was now a shortage of Mini Eggs.

 

The Obsession Stage

Constantly watching the news, googling it, researching it, thinking about it, talking about it, dreaming about it, worrying about it….

 

The Corona Etiquette Stage

Myself and everyone began to have a crash course in Corona Etiquette: no touching each other, washing hands, no licking each other (kids are gross), avoid crowded places, use anti bac obsessively, wipe things down before and after use, don’t shake hands, avoid old people, “go-off” Chinese food and Corona Beer, avoid pregnant people, social distancing, don’t stretch over someone in Tescos to grab the cheese, be cagey if you have been to Italy, don’t pet peoples dogs, don’t go into peoples houses, if you cough say “it’s not corona”, if you sneeze say “it’s not corona”……and 100% don’t choke on own saliva in school playground and have coughing fit!

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The Total Panic Stage

The next stage for me was panic. This started when I realised that I would have to semi educate my wild 4-year-old??!! My son’s future was in my hands! My Mummy Watsapp groups were going CRAZY with the end of school. So many ideas, and schedules and resources, all amazingly helpful but really started to freak me out. We are not even going to have time for alllll of these???? There were SO many things on offer, too many, I really didn’t know where to start or what was best? Maybe outdoor adventures alternated with TV wasn’t going to cut it after all?!

 

The Retail Panic Stage

Next I started to panic that I needed to get stuff to fill our days….commence-writing long extensive shopping lists of arts and crafts, things to do in the garden, DIY in the house, educational things, new “house clothes”, vegetable planting stuff, garden chickens, garden cow, new trainers/ home gym equipment, scissors to home haircut, make up stockpiling (delivery men), home waxing, home baking, home classroom, home slippers………Even though I felt many were “essential”, it dawned on me that if we were unable to work we might need to save money on “new home shoe rack”, to like…eat???!!! So decided to save some dosh.

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The Panic Eating Stage

This was a weird stage (still in it) of being torn between eating absolutely EVERYTHING, including kids left overs and neglected out of date chocolate gateaux…..and trying not to eat anything to “save the supplies”. Also (sorry very superficial) very aware that could end up looking like 10-tonne-Tesse by the end of all this if stuck in house with food and no gym.

 

The Let’s-Do-This Stage

Then I became more positive-helped by a bit of sun. It’s going to be ok. This is temporary. Our ancestors have been in way worse situations and our world has survived. We are in this together. I began to feel a real community feeling, everyone helping each other out and everyone looking at each other (whilst social distancing) with knowing/sympathetic/ reassuring looks. This could bring us together rather than tear us apart. So many families have travelled to be back together to isolate. It’s quite lovely! A few months in the grand scheme of things is nothing, and we will be a better world once its over.

I also decided to embrace this time to get stuff done (in hindsight there will be 2 crazy boys swinging around my legs dismantling the house and sh*ting on the floor and it will be all I can do to stop them trying to use each other as human hand grenades)…..but here is my “Isolation To-Do List”:

 

Re-start neglected Megamum.com blog- writing seems to be my therapy?

Become domestic goddess

Go Make- free and look 10 years younger by the end

Catch up on Netflix series

Grow armpit and leg hair (not sure about this one)

Sack-off straighteners…Monica

Get shit loads of stuff done in the house so looks like Ikea show home

Become a gardener

Become a chicken keeper

Read a book!

Potty train

Save money (if can work from home and don’t spend money on “house clothes” collection)

Feel “self-less” buying shit loads of things to support small businesses

Have a non-pressure zero commitment type of life

Become all zen and stuff

Become a home-work-out queen and get a six pack

Make up for 5 years of lost family time due to work

Clean house

Get mega sun tan

Catch-up with friends on skype/ Facetime

 

To be honest (as many mums do) I have felt like I’ve been on some crazy hamster wheel of life and can’t get off for the last 5 years. So will be nice to have a breather *if that makes sense. What an amazing opportunity.

 

*children will still be there (can’t help but feel like self-isolating would be bloody wonderful if it was kid free???!!)

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The Reflective Stage

I’m really not sure why COVID-19 has happened, maybe I’m being all hippy-jippy but feel it was kinda Mother Nature’s way of getting us to stop destroying our beautiful world for a little? Allowing us all to have a break and to spend some family time together and become DIY experts. And when Mother Nature’s ready, we can get cracking with life again

OMG I should actually be a hippy

And the home schooling thing…..I need to remember that he’s 4….in other countries they haven’t even started school yet. I missed over a year of school age 8 (v.poorly) and watched TV all day everyday, and I’m (semi) fine (cough cough). Yes we will do some proper school stuff, but as an when its fits* My son will be focusing more on the school of life and a gap year of travelling to secluded places around Budleigh/ Exmouth/ back garden for “exercise” whilst practicing social distancing. My main concern now is how I’m going to spend that much time with my husband???!!! True Story.

 

Joking aside (think it’s a nervous thing?)  I really hope everyone stays safe and heathy, Coronavirus looks truly horrendous and I’m definitely going to do everything I can to help. We are all in this together.

 

*After day 2 of “home schooling” I have now extinguished any desire to be a teacher and realised education may go out the window as it is all about survival. If kids are fed, semi clothed and semi clean at the end of the day it’s a win. Please scrap most of above “Isolation To-Do List”.

 

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School Mum

 

I really wanted to write this before I become more involved with being a “school mum” and cant really write about it anymore! It a whole new world

Almost as big as Christmas, on Tuesday 3rd September, Arlo started school. There had been lots of preparation for this so the kids would settle in smoothly. However, I had not been given a booklet on “How To Be A School Mum”, do they not do these???!! (Who do I stand with in the playground? What do I wear to “create good impression”? Do I wear gym gear to look like i’m really active and fit?! Do I need to befriend the teachers on FB? Do I need to be on the PTA? Do I need to bake cakes and read the Dictionary for fun…..etc etc).

My feelings aside, it was all rightly all about Arlo. He was ready. I was ready (champagne at school gate after first drop off would be wrong yeh?). I still had a couple of moments of “aw he used to be a little baby and now he’s starting school” tearful moments, but on the whole I was excited for him as I KNEW he would love it. He needed so much stimulation and exercising each day that I could give him, I knew school would be able to provide that. And he LOVES learning stuff, teachers are way more equipped to explain “Mummy, why does snot come out of your nose and not your ears?”

I’m still 100% sure that Arlo actually realised he was starting school?!

 

First day

The night before I cried into Arlo’s baby album. In the morning I was feeling excited but then cried approximately 5 more times (school uniform going on, when husband got cross because of state of car, seeing Arlos friends in their school uniform, waving goodbye, seeing other mums cry). But then I was fine and binged on chocolate for 2 hours until I picked him and haven’t looked back since.

Arlo was totally fine, oblivious to everything like normal, just preoccupied with the fact that everyone has the same jumper as him. What are the chances

 

Teachers
I remember in one of the pre school meetings one of the teachers said that If your child comes out last it might mean they need to talk to you. Every day it’s a nail biting wait to see where Arlo comes out….he has been last a few times now for “incidences”. I dread that beckon over. I wont go into all of said incidences, but there was the day of the “protest wee”….

Poor tired Arlo had not enjoyed PE that day. So later on he was spotted having a stand -up “protest wee” on some of the toys in the corridor…….(
I accidentally responded to teacher with “oh fuck”……well if thats who the parents are)

And the day of the frilly socks…..

Arlo was very tired again today. He has unfortunately gone through 4x changes of clothes and finished the day in shorts and girls frilly socks and slip on “pumps”

To make light of the situation I tried to make a joke about how Arlo calls his little brother “Tit” instead of Kitt. (must-stop-trying-to-be-funny and perhaps bring raw carrot snacks and eco friendly arts and crafts school pick up). This was also the day Arlo went in with a black eye from the coffee table.
Etiquette

So much school mum etiquette…..I’m still figuring it out

First of all, will who you stand with now determine who your school mum friends are for the rest of the decade??! I want to make sure I talk to everyone. Everyone seems super friendly so far. And when its raining, is it a case of “hood up. eyes down, get the job done”?? Do you hang around after to chat? How long? Is it rude to dash off after if you have to be somewhere? Do mums get there early to chat to people/hang out? How long before you friend request your new mum friends on FB?! How “free” should you let your younger pre school child be in the big school kids playground? Kitt seems to be the most free so far.

Parties….do you invite the whole class? Just boys? Do you just “drop off” the kids? Could mean you end up with 30 kids ALL BY YOURSELF. How much do you spend on presents (say £10…thats £300 for the year!)

Spare clothes……do you take these back if your kid comes home in a new outfit?? Or you just acquire bonus clothes?

DO WE GET TO KEEP THE FRILLY WHITE SOCKS??

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PTA
Do I want to be a PTA mum??? I wasn’t sure I was up for the job as I would 100% buy cookies from Tescos and pass them off as mine. However, having seen the PTA mums at various pre school meetings, they look like a hoot!! They sit at the back and drink!! (obviously do lots of stuff for the school too). I want to be friends with THEM!! Need to figure out how to work the oven first though. I do enjoy being a school mum, feel like I’m part of a community?! I have a purpose! But a PTA mum I think might be a little too full on?! Sure they wouldn’t steal frilly white socks
First REAL Friend
So far Arlos friends have been basically MY friends that have kids the same age. So a few days ago a mum came up to me and asked if I was Arlos mum??!! Uh ohhhhhh…..but she said that her son and Arlo play together and her son (lets call him *Garry) are friends. And not only that, Garry thinks Arlo is really funny!! (dread to think). Its official, Arlo has a real friend that he’s made all by himself! I felt quite emotional about it all. I fear I may have gotten so excited and scuppered Arlos chances as came on rather strong to the mum. Going to play it cool now

 

What The F*ck Do You Do At School???
Do any school mums actually know what their kids do at school?? I think the expression is “water out of a stone”. I want to know everything (who did you play with? What did you have for lunch? Did you eat anything that wasn’t beige?! Who’s your favourite teacher? What did you do? Did you learn anything today?). So far the most I have got out of Arlo is that him and another boy *Alan go to the toilet together because they are both scared of hand driers?! I would LOVE to be a fly on the wall during the school day.

*his name isn’t Alan

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Blank Canvas
Someone once told me that teachers like it if you send your child in as a “blank canvas” when they start school. That way they don’t have to un teach bad habit etc. Well I can reveal I have well and truly sent Arlo in as a blank canvas. I have tried to teach him to write/ recognise letters/ read etc but he was just not interested. So we have just played for 4 years. One totally blank canvas for you reception teachers. Star points for me?!

 

School Pick Ups
This is honestly the best time of day. I get so excited to see his excited face when I pick him up. I go all weird and squeaky and really enthusiastic when I say hello?! He normally falls over on his run to me (I bought school shoes to big “to last him”). He once bought home Tidy Up Trevor (or was it Terry?) for good tidying. After questioning if he had “stolen” Trevor, I then nearly cried because I was so proud/ disbelief. Trevor had seen better days, but emotional all the same. I’ve gone soft (er)

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New Chapter
Kitt now gets to do classes JUST FOR HIM and its lush to spend time with him, and my days are A LOT more mellow. I can blog again! Although, he has really found his voice in Arlos absence and become rather feisty no longer living in Arlos shadow. We both miss him though, its very very very (lovely) quiet. I’m sure I’m more lazy now I’ve just got one during the day, or maybe I’m just not used to not having to do things at a million miles per hour all the time.

Arlo is now so exhausted when he comes home that he SITS DOWN and “chills”. He’s almost become better behaved? Its like he was so wild because he was bored and needed more stimulation. Plus he does love a routine. He now also looks 18 years old. Obviously there has been a few hairy moments (needed staples to fix handbag he made at school but I couldn’t find any staples etc) and a few emotions (he wanted roasted potatoes not boiled), but in general school has been a success. Sure the novelty might wear off when he realises its for the next 12 years??!

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School also warrants earlier bedtimes

Winning

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ps. There is a grey area where you are still technically allowed to take children out of school until before their 5th birthday……. #travelling

pps. How many times do school mums day “put your shoes on” every morning????

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The Philippines… PART 2

Next stop…..Bohol

(not to be pronounced “bow-hole”- people will look at you funny)

The wedded couple, my mum and dad, Rich and I and the 2 boys all set off for a little island off the coast of Cebu. It was only an hour or so flight away which was literally a breeze compared to 14 hours. The children were almost enjoyable on this flight. The only hard thing was that yet again we had run out of nappies but also (holy shit), wet wipes!! Weirdly these things are not easy to get hold of in the Philippines. Managed to locate both of the above at the airport finally. They were kept hidden “behind the counter” in a random shop. Had to ask for them and the ladies exchanged a “look”. Felt like I was buying Crack.

Landed in beautiful Bohol. Already it felt more “travelly” than Davao. We had all booked to stay in different places on the island. This was due to different budgets/criteria’s, but mainly to give the newlyweds some romantic time together (you know, the sort of married bliss that doesn’t involve children shitting on a sun bed and pulling your swimmers down in public). My parents didn’t require accom with pool to keep ginger children cool. A must for us.

When booking our accommodation back in the UK, I had got swept away with the prospect of being a hippy traveller and “we don’t need anything fancy, we just need each other”….and ….”memories are made from experiences, not from nice hotels”…..so had booked some budget accommodation. Cheap skate. We arrived and actually it was really lush. The pool area and restaurant was lovely and there were lots of cats (with rabies?). We paid up BEFORE being shown to the room. Massive school boy error. I forgot when we used to travel that we always checked out the room first. HELLO COCKROACHES.

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We used to stay in some pretty grotty places before kids…..like the one with frogs living in the toilet that you had to try and time your “toilet time” so they didn’t jump up your bum. Or the room with “half a roof for half the rent”. But we just sucked it up as it was cheap. I definitely began to realise that we just couldn’t do this with the kids now. Kitt wanted the cockroaches to be his friends and pretty sure Arlo wanted to eat them. They were crawling everywhere. Just freaked me out that they would land on the boys in their sleep. Plus HELLO BEDBUGS. Itching and squirming all night long. Kitt was still really poorly and there was no aircon (it was 37’). We stomached 2 nights then we bailed.

They did have great Pizza though. This had become the boys staple diet. Also could walk to a nice beach:)

During the skank-fest, Kitt was getting worse again. So I decided to take him to hospital. ROAD TRIP!! Actually, a great way to see more of the island and local way of life (zero westerners at hospital), but obviously for a shit reason. Just felt so bad for him and he was so unhappy which is not like him. Turns out best decision as the first lot of medicine he was on was making him worse. So got new drugs and Kitt got some new friends. A little girl was sharing her snacks with him in the waiting room, I was trying to figure out how poorly she was and whether Kitt should be sharing her snacks .But before I could think, they had already shared some slobbery snacks and a little cuddle. Only time would tell. What do you do in this situation???

Kitt had a whale of a time in hospital and didn’t seem poorly at all!!! Sods law

Whilst me and Kitt were in hospital, Arlo was living his BEST live and had his first (of 4643920) rides in a Trike.

The cocky Cockroach pit a distant memory, hero Rich had moved all of our stuff to a new place. OMG it was bloody lush. So out of our league and so beautiful. Words can’t even describe how nice it was….the pool, the beach, the food, the room, the staff, the view. So well set up for kids. It’s amazing what a difference a bed bug free bed  and decent accom can make, even though I did feel like I was cheating somehow.

The next few days we focused on getting Kitt better. Chilled days, lots of naps, lots of water, new medicine and lots of milk (boobs), thank god I still had this to go to.  The staff even gave Kitt a ‘throne” for breakfast everyday which I think help his mental state. Took it in turns to take Arlo out on Kitts nap time ie: felt guilty the focus had been on Kitt so fed Arlo ice-cream. We went on some little trips out on the trikes but mainly *chilled by the pool and beach and in the hammocks/ next to toy diggers and beach bar . I may have even had a sip of a Mojito one evening, shhhhhhh.

* I mean run around after the boys trying to stop them eating sand and jumping in pool- but we were in the vicinity of the pool and beach……again, how do parents tan on holiday???

I feel my hair deserves a mention at this point. I had made an executive decision not to bring hair straighteners with me and go au-naturel. By this point I had also given up brushing it to go for the “I think I’m a cool surfer chick” look

It was getting bigger and bigger and bigger…….

We had all this stuff planned in Bohol but sacked it all off to get Kitt back on track. Really is so different with kids, def their health and happiness first. I had to remember that I wasn’t a 20 something back-packer anymore with henna tattoos and an infected dodgy nose piercing. We shall just have to go back to do the “Chocolate Hills” and “Root Climbing” next time. In hindsight, I think trying to explain to Arlo that the Chocolate Hills WEREN’T actually made out of chocolate would have been very difficult. Dodged a bullet there.

Kitt finally better, and Arlo finally getting a semi sun tan, (well freckles) time had come to say goodbye to my parents (off to Nepal!) and my brother and his new wife. So sad as you just don’t know when the next time you will see them again. Who knows, maybe next time they will have children (hint hint) as long as we hadn’t put them off

I ate lots of chocolate that’s night:(

Couple more days in paradise then it was time to hit the road again. Arlo said an emotional goodbye to his girlfriend from Honk Kong (well emotional on her side, he had a girl in every town) and we tucked in for our last night in Bohol.

We got moved to a different room- equally as lush. The bed was fricking HUGE. That night we all slept in the same bed, zero sleep was had obviously but I remember feeling so happy and content that everything I needed was right next to me

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Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

 

PART 3 coming soon…….actually might be 4 parts all together as so much more to tell!