A mother’s journal of her first week of self-isolation with Leo, 8 and Bea, 6

graphic coping blue

By Nicki St. George

March 24th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Gazette has put together a team of parents who are at home taking care of their children while the province goes through school closures and the shut down of everything other than essential services.

Ashley Worobec, Amber Rohol, and Nicki St. George will write regularly on how they are coping.  We invite parents to take part in this initiative by adding comments to each Coping with COVID19 & the kids article.

 

Nicki St. George, a mother of two, Leo 8 and Bea 6, is a teacher at a private school and is in the final phase of her chemotherapy for cancer.

This is her first week with the children at home.

Thursday, March 12
I went grocery shopping at 2:30pm, just before picking my kids up from school. It was eerie. Very busy for that time of day with people quietly stockpiling canned goods and other supplies. I bought three bags of coffee and left the store with a knot in my stomach and a feeling of unease.

Friday, March 13 –
I breathed a sigh of relief that today was the last day of my 12 weekly chemotherapy sessions. After battling breast cancer for the last 6 months, the hard parts (surgery and chemo) are done and I can look forward to getting my energy back. And not a moment too soon as the Ontario government announced that schools will be closed for the next three weeks including March Break.

Deerhurst

Deerhurst |Resort in the Muskoka’s

Saturday, March 14 –
Surrounded by scary news stories and reports from Italy about how everyone wishes they had self-isolated sooner, I begin to doubt whether I should be taking my kids up to Deerhurst Resort in Muskoka. This was going to be a way for me to keep my kids entertained while my husband, Daniel, was away for work in Saskatoon. We stay inside as a family and decide to self-isolate.

Sunday, March 15 –
I decide that we are not going to Deerhurst. I also spend time researching how to know if you are immunocompromised. The kids are disappointed. Mostly Bea because her friend was also supposed to be going there too. I explain to them that it is not safe because of COVID-19 and particularly unsafe for mum because I am more likely to get very sick from the virus. They understand the importance of washing hands and the need to keep our distance from people. I take the same approach with them about discussing the virus that I did when I told them about my cancer. I am honest about what is going on. I give them the information they need, and I answer all of their questions.

Crawford lake with wooden trail

Fresh air and explaining what is unique about the lake.

Monday, March 16 –
Social media is abuzz with free resources for kids. I join a homeschooling Facebook group which is started by my friend. I screen shot every schedule, list of creative ideas to keep kids busy, at home exercise routines, etc. that I see. I am feeling pressure to home-school. I make a list of things to keep us busy for the week on chart paper. But then I remember that it is March Break and the pressure and guilt eases. I take the kids for a walk to Crawford Lake with my mum and we have a lovely day. I consider this a win.

Tuesday, March 17 –
I am feeling the fatigue and bone pain from the residual chemo chemicals in my body. The kids watch a lot of TV and Leo chats with his friends via messenger kids. I clean out Leo’s closet and walk one block to drop off the hand-me-downs to my friend. We stand two meters apart and compare our isolation time. She had been awaiting the results of her COVID-19 test – they are negative. Daniel is working on a new project and it is keeping him very busy. He has set up a workstation in the basement and we don’t see him much for most of the day. I am grateful that we both have jobs and financial security.

Mt Nemo entrance

Mt Nemo – now closed to the public.

Wednesday, March 18 –
I continue to find myself glued to my social media feed and obsessing over the 24-hour news cycle. I reach out to some friends to see how they are doing. Even the homeschooling parents are saying that the colour coded activity schedule is way too much. I breathe a sigh of relief. I take the kids to Mt. Nemo and we have a great time exploring a new conservation area. We pass by a lot of other families and keep our distance. The kids and I also do a home workout using a YouTube video. I dig out a workbook that I bought for Bea at Costco a while ago and I get Leo to start working on learning his multiplication times tables. I decide that is enough for today.

Thursday, March 19 –
Our day starts around 10:30am. I really, really like to sleep in and spend some time working on my jigsaw puzzle. After two cups of coffee, I psych myself up for the day. Another YouTube workout, a silly game of hide the LOL doll and I take the kids for a good walk so we can all get our 10, 000 steps for the day. I am so glad that we all got fitbits as it really helps motivate the kids to move and can be used as currency for screen time!

groundhog

They get called groundhogs – they are really gophers

Friday, March 20 –
Groundhog Day setting in. The kids make a fort downstairs. I make energy balls. Bea isn’t feeling well – I think she thinks she has the virus. We cuddle a lot. I read an editorial in the NY Times about a mother who refuses to home-school her children. I wade through posts about free e-learning resources and try to get my head around the world going ‘online.’ I also email my boss at the school where I teach and tell her that I’m ready to come back to work early from sick leave and help out as we prepare to move into an e-learning platform. I make a delicious beef soup for dinner with the oxtail that my husband brought home from the grocery shop (all that was left in the meat department) and we watch another movie together, as has become our nightly ritual. Added to our nightly ritual is the completion of a gratitude journal. A gift that I was given when first diagnosed with cancer. As we settle in for a long haul of self-isolation, I fear that the weeks will get harder and that it will be harder to find things to be thankful for. I want to establish the habit of acknowledging the good things in life.

On Friday Ashley Worobec, a Mother of two children and a long distance marathon runner will take us through how she is handling the day with the kids home.

graphic coping redCoping with COVID & the kids is a collaborative effort between three women and the wider community.  The group will “prime the pump” with ideas from their experiences; we invite readers to use the comments section at the end of each feature to add their own ideas.

 

Related news story:Get-Gaz-yellow-1

Helping parents to deal with kids who are now at home – all the time.

 

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