Life of a Mum

Shielding (from your emotions)

If you’ve read my previous blog on shielding you’d know that I’ve been doing so since March 23rd- this is due to being on medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis that cause me to be immunosuppressed.

 

Shielding and social distancing aren’t the same 

There are two levels of higher risk—the “clinically vulnerable” which includes, among others, all over 70s, and the “clinically extremely vulnerable” who are people with certain conditions who have been contacted by the NHS. I’m classed as clinically extremely vulnerable: and as such I’ve received two letters from the government advising what I can and can’t do- this is very restrictive. This includes things such as

·        Cannot go outside of the house

·        Must work from home if at all

·        Unable to go to the shops

·        Unable to see family unless I live with them

·        Must try to socially distance from those I live with (i.e. Use different bathrooms and bedrooms)

 

As of July 6th the advice has changed which means I can see groups of up to 6 people outside (hurrah for seeing the grandparents in the garden.) But those a few miles away in Leicester, cannot have these restrictions dropped due to a new lockdown. So in theory I can see people, but in practise can’t see a lot of my friends as they live in the lockdown zone.

From August 1st (unless this changes- likely as I live near Leicester and work in Leicester) advice means I’m no longer advised to shield, and can return to work, but should still socially distance and avoid socialisation whilst COVID 19 is still around. I’m not really liking the sound of the ‘new normal’ – for life as a immunocompromised person is going to be quite restrictive and isolating- TBH I want to rewind a year!

 

I’m a chatty, sociable person, that usually sees up to 100 people a day    

Therefore I’ve found the last 14 weeks very hard. My  only company has been the wonderfully chatty Dorothea (aged 3) and my husband ( usually busy working from home). Social media including zoom has really helped, but really doesn’t cut it. I’m desperate for a coffee and cake with friends, pizza and wine out or a play date meet up at the farm park.

 

Some people don’t care- think COVID doesn’t exist

This is so frustrating; bearing in mind I’ve almost been housebound for 16weeks. So many people simply believe COVID ‘doesn’t exist’, is a ‘big hoax- there’s so many conspiracy theories going around- which rather messes with my head! Should I really be depriving myself of normal, when lots of the world don’t even believe there’s a problem. Of course I KNOW the virus is real (obviously as I worked in a hospital in the run up to lockdown).

 

Guilt- others have it harder

I appreciate that I’m lucky- as a shielder I have good support from family and friends, I have a nice house and garden to spend time in and my health is reasonable. But whoever you are, and wherever you live shielding we be hard. It’s a complete loss of independence- you can’t just pop anywhere anymore, cant just drop something off to family, see people on their birthdays, accept any form of childcare, and have to rely on others to have contact with the outside world for you.

Guilt- should be at work

One of the hardest things initially was the massive guilt I felt for not being at work! As you may know my role is a frontline nursing position, so high risk but very much a ‘keyworker’ – the feeling of suddenly ‘letting my team down’ was immense- I went from working hands on with COVID patients on a Tuesday- but on the Thursday was shielding for at least 12 weeks. From an outsiders perspective you would not expect me to be shielding; I don’t look sick, I’m fairly young (for a senior nurse), slim and fit and ‘healthy’- I expect some people would feel I don’t need to be off at all.

Will people think I’m a cop out? A skiver? Pulling a sicky?

Should I ‘weigh up the risks’ and return to work earlier than advised.

Will the mental impact of shielding affect me way more than the physical aspects of COVID would have?

My mind is busy with so many thoughts; part of me doesn’t know if I can, or should ever return to my previous job. Does our ‘new normal’ mean that a nursing role is just not sensible for a person who is immunocompromised?

 

Emotive- lost my purpose

After working for all of my adult life (apart from maternity leave) the loss of my daily work life is immense. Going from having important role with great job satisfaction to sitting at home day in day out is very demoralising. My employer has offered me limited opportunity to do any ‘working from home’ roles, so I really feel I’ve lost my purpose.

My goodness I love Dorothea, and after trying so hard to get her of course I value my role as a mother- but for me that wasn’t all I was put on this earth for. I’m made for nursing- and not nursing when nurses are needed the most make me feel inadequate, a let down and useless. My weeks are full of ups and downs; some weeks I speak to colleague’s, read emails enthusiastically and keep up to date- but other weeks I struggle to wash and dress, feel tearful and think about my first Gin to early. To be honest my head is a mess.

 

Guilt- get annoyed with myself for not enjoying my ‘time ‘off’

Lets be fair- this isn’t the best ‘time off’ – it’s really not like maternity leave when you can visit friends and family, go to baby groups and out for lunch or afternoon tea. This is isolation- please don’t describe it as time off- it doesn’t feel like a holiday- it feels like a punishment.

Yes some days I feel blessed and really lucky that I have all this ‘bonus’ time with Dotty, but others I’m exhausted! Being a stay at home mum must be the hardest job ever- 15weeks in and I’ve barely been a different room to Dot- because let’s face it- toddlers will watch you wee and they rarely stop asking questions. I can’t even escape fo a few minutes peace to the shop or for a coffee- as that’s not allowed.

Mental health 

I think the mental health impact of shielding is huge – I can’t speak for others; but know for me, that the longer I stay at home, the more anxious I get about returning to the ‘real world’. My bubble feels safe, shopping deliveries feel safe, locking myself away feels safe. Even driving my car (with sole purpose of ‘giving it a run’) makes me anxious- fast breathing, palpitation, paranoia and second guessing myself.

I feel everything in life from now on is going to involve some sort of risk assessment! And how exhausting will that be.

What shop should we go to?

Is the park safe?

Should Dot return to preschool?

Can I take the dog to the vets?

I really need to see the dentist- but that can’t be socially distanced!

Shielding or not shielding, worried or not worried- all I know for certain is life is going to be very different for all of us from now on. Please be kind to others- don’t be condescending or demeaning about their concerns or anxieties- after all, all of us have been through a very difficult few months. 

Some useful links:

Government Shielding advice

Covid and anxiety- NHS advice

COVID anxiety- MIND advice

Baby/Toddler stuff, Playtime

Our favourite books

We love books! We always have, from bedtime stories to using them in play activities or discovery baskets. From when Dot was little we attended ‘Story Imaginory’ classes run by the wonderful Freya. These classes are themed around a letter and a book- with the class leader reading the story and guiding you through related songs/dances (with signing) and some amazing play activities- all linked to the original story.

Story imaginory

Since lockdown Story imaginory have gone virtual- with stories being read- and play activities given on a sheet to recreate at home- it’s amazing and Freya (and the other class leaders are awesome story readers).

Attending the Story Imaginory classes have inspired me with how we read and use books at home. As well as just reading stories to Dot, I try to get her more involved by encouraging her to point things out in the book, linking play activities to the book or finding books that are more interactive.

Here are some of our favourites.

The Jolly Postman– this is one I remember from my childhood- and we bought her the Festive one for Christmas. She loved it so we recently added this to our collection.

It’s wonderful as it’s really interactive; with envelopes with postcards, letters and puzzles for little ones to open and explore. It’s written in a way that it’s super easy to read and you can be really expressive too.

Play activities we’ve tried linked to this book.

  • Used it to guide writing postcards to friends and family on lockdown.
  • Made a quick postbox (out of a shoe box) and posted letters which we then delivered to her teddies and friends.

Who’s hiding on the farm. We bought this from one of our not so recent trips to a National Trust property; I find they always stock awesome books. This isn’t a story book; but a great interactive ‘lift the flap’ book, which toddlers tend to love.

We love creating ‘farm’ themed play trays with dry foods/sand/moon sand and our farm animal toys.

Why do we need a potty? Together with the book ‘what is poo?’ We are using this to help our potty training mission. It’s not going well, to be fair; but Dot does have full understanding of the toileting process, and loves to play with her babies on her potty.

Me and Daddy think these are the most bizarre books ever; but she seems to love them.

Read with Fred- local Usborne book lady

Questions and answers about plastic. Another great Usborne book; and if you follow me on insta, you’ll know I’m on an eco mission. Another lift the flap book so entertaining enough for a toddler; but I think Dot will really enjoy this book as she gets older too.

To use this book in play I encourage Dot to sort (clean) rubbish into groups- recyclable and not or plastic/paper/cardboard etc.

Zog – well we love all Julia Donaldson books; and they mostly make up our favourite bedtime books. Zog is our most recent Donaldson purchase; it’s a bit more difficult to read than others (in my opinion) but I think it’s a great story which shows Princesses aren’t just there to be pretty.

We recently read this book and made our own crafty crowns.

Rabbits Nap- another Julia Donaldson book, but definitely lesser well known. It’s a cute short, lift the flap book (so ideal for younger toddlers). We find this one links very nicely with the ‘hop little bunny’ song and dance.

First facts BUGS- a great factual book to get little ones interested in bugs. I didn’t want Dot to be scared or bugs and beasties- so bought this book and some play resources recently to help her understand their importance. She’s now loving butterflies, bees and spiders- and saying hello to them instead of running away.

For a range of awesome play resources check out The future image and use ‘ivfninja’ for discount.

I hope you’ve liked my recommendations of books and simple play ideas follow me on insta for more My insta and drop me a comment with what you think.