Well…. GOD, guys. Just… god.
Selfishly, I am just praying for our school to stay open. I am outwardly subscribing to the view that if you shut the schools a) all the kids will just meet up elsewhere and exchange germs anyway b) people who cannot take time off work to look after their kids will send their children to their grandparents… and we know how that one ends and c) the roughly 140,000 children on free school meals will literally go hungry.
But privately I just don’t want to have to homeschool my children for the foreseeable future. I have got so much respect for any parent who actually wants their school to shut. Some parents at our school have voluntarily taken their children out already. I’m sorry but I will be batting corona zombies out of the way to get my children into school. I will still be tossing them over the gate even if they do shut. Don’t get me wrong I really do like my kids and I’m not a shit parent, I just don’t want them with me all the time. I don’t want to have to teach my kids stuff because they will dick me about and drive me crackers. I come from a long line of teachers but it has skipped a generation.
There’s more to say but I’m confused, paralysed with indecision about what to stockpile next, if anything. I know I ought to be relishing my last days of freedom should they close the schools and I can wave BUH BYE to quiet cups of tea in a tidy kitchen, but the pressure to relish my freedom is making me panic and want to lie down in a dark room. Or is it not panic, is it… do I feel… is my chest… is my forehead…? O lawd save me. And us all.
How about you? What the hell do you make of all this?
Emily Knight says
I am not an anxious person, AT ALL, but I just have a sense of foreboding that is hard to shift. Even though I know people who have had it and been ok. It’s a fear of the unknown, a fear of what will happen to the economy and our jobs, a fear of having to have both kids at home all the time. Just a fear. When will it all be over? Plus I so desperately do not want my panic to translate into panic buying which will harm others. I just stopped my husband joining the queues at local petrol stations. I may have to come off social media.
I just don’t know. It’s all horrible. I was thinking of taking my kids out of school this week, as I’ve got friends in Italy who were like WHY ARE YOUR KIDS IN SCHOOL FFS but I keep thinking maybe the UK really does know what it’s doing? As I’m in Scotland, I’m praying that Nicola Sturgeon will just tell us all what the fuck to do. She always seems to know.
My mum died on February 24th. I’m actually thankful that she didn’t have to go through this; we would have been so worried about her. What with that and my impending divorce, I wasn’t even surprised when the global pandemic arrived. It seemed like the natural next step. 2020 can do one.
OH MATE. 2020 sounds like a crock of poo for you! I’m in Scotland too and hopeful regarding Sturgeon’s leadership through this. I’m so sorry to hear about your Mum. HOLD FAST, all will be OK in the end. xxx
Thank you, Sophie. The one good thing is that people have been so incredibly kind. Xx
Leona, I’m so sorry for your loss. What a year. X
Thank you, Clare x
Leona, that really sucks. So sorry for your loss xx
Thank you, Cindy x
Katy W says
I’m really sorry Leona. My mum died last week too and this whole thing has been so unutterably crap at an already impossible time – e.g. wtf do we do about the funeral which is next week, do we tell people not to come? (we’ve already cancelled the wake) What do we do about my dad? etc etc. I too have been really heartened by the kindness of others and I hope that continues for you as well xxx
sheila birch says
Oh what heartbreaking decisions you have to make. Sad sad times
I’m so sorry to hear that, Katy. It just sucks. x
Well I’m now a granny but I totally empathise. I too loved my small children, but I was so glad when they were in school – or actually anywhere other than under my feet. I hope you and my two daughters manage to cope, especially my Luci (also self employed fortunately) with her 3 under 8 FFS! two of them boisterous boys and no granny to help she will be mental.
Just an aside, my daughters will shop and take care of us I know, but the reply from my text shopping list to Alison was OK but ‘you can fuck off with lambs kidneys’
I want my children to stay at school for the reasons you have mentioned but also because I really believe they are not at risk, nor am I. I’d rather we get it and become immune and frankly move on! What worries me most is the economy, I’m self employed and EVERYTHING is grinding to a halt…much like my income will. Therefore I’m still going out, still buying coffee and supporting my local tradespeople because if I don’t who will? I guess we just have to sit tight, follow the advice and hopefully come through it in a couple of months.
Cathy B says
Hi Sinead, the thing is, you might not feel that you or your children are at risk if you catch it. But their very presence at school, could make them unwitting carriers and infect other kids who do have vulnerable family members at home, who would be at considerable risk of dying.
It’s both weirdly normal and weirdly weird at the same time.
Husband is WFH, sent home by his bosses in the City. He says it’s tumbleweed round Liverpool St station. This may lead to divorce if prolonged.
I’m thankful/ worried that the schools aren’t shut yet. I already yelled at mine at 7.30am for squabbling. I’ll have throttled them by 4 weeks enforced social isolation :-/
I’m Aussie and my mother’s visiting at the moment, then heading straight back to my sister who is immune-compromised *and* has a baby. I’m having to talk mum off a ledge as she’s got herself massively in a tizz about it all. She’s flying home early in part to depart globally interconnected London and also to make sure she can actually get home before they shut the Aus borders. In fairness, my sister’s much more relaxed. In her area until recently the biggest worries have been the bloody hippy mothers not immunising, making playgroup more like Russian roulette.
In these difficult times, aren’t we glad we do, in fact, have EXPERTS who can advise us based on science and evidence and years of study. And where’s that £350m a week for the NHS, eh Boris?! Could really come in handy right about now.
I work in the NHS and we aren’t panicking. Not yet anyway! For us, life continues as normal and hygiene is just as much priority as it has ever been. We will continue to care for the vulnerable all whilst hoping we don’t become vulnerable ourselves. I don’t want my kids to stop going to school for a number of reasons, not least of all because if I would rather jump into a pool of Covid-19 than spend any more time with them. I do love them dearly but the thought of trying to get them to sit down and do school work just sounds hellish to me. I suppose it is inevitable that the schools will close at some point, but the later that is the better.
I scoured the Internet and looked at so many bloody curves and computer generated graphics of how this will spread and have to say I think our government are doing the right thing. Not something I thought I would ever say…….
Oh and another thing, anyone else bloody sick of celebrities on instagram doing videos/selfies whilst self-isolating? Well done you, but the rest of us have still got to go to bloody work. Show offs
Everyone here seems so sane. I agree, long may schools stay open. While they’re open, we’re going to continue to go to restaurants etc to support the economy and friends that are self-employed. Also, paying our cleaner even if she can’t make it. No BJ fan but I’m reassured that he is following scientific and medical advice. We are ultimately going to limit access to our parents though (all 75+) which is not great. Though they were at the pub when we rang to tell them this.
in the pub !! got to love them hahaha
The thought of my husband and I both working from home (he normally works away 3 weeks out of four) and home schooling our three teenagers is bringing me out in hives. The Channel Islands is a weird place to be right now as we could basically close the drawbridge if we wanted to and stop anyone coming in or out but is that actually going to stop anything? At least the sun is shining for once!
I live in the Czech Republic and we have gone Wednesday – schools closed
Thursday – limited opening of restaurants
Friday – restaurants etc closed and only essential shops open.
Saturday – people buying things through windows
Sunday – full quarantine and everyone working from home + home schooling.
It is challenging and weird. It feels like the frog in the pot, each day our restrictions getting tighter. I’m crap at home schooling but I’m doing my best. We have both cried today (me and my daughter that is). Only time will tell which method has worked best – the British way or this. It is certainly very weird to be in this position with the rest of the family in Britain undergoing completely different rules.
Esther Thankyou for bringing this up in your own brilliant way. I’m a frontline NHS worker and there is a palpable sense of WE ARE ALL DOOMED hanging around the place. Or maybe I’m just hypersensitive to vibes….
I’m currently facing redeployment to help mop up the increased demand and I’m fluctuating hourly between “please god close the schools so I don’t have to act as cannon fodder” and “no I just need to do my duty and help my country out at this time of crisis”.
One thing I’ve learnt this weekend – hangxiety on top of panxiety is not a healthy place to be and won’t be repeated.
I dont even know what to think anymore never mind what to do, say, buy? I have kids at university (Im sure they’ve all got it) and elderly parents with the dreaded underlying health conditions as Im sure lots of people do. Im nearly 50 but also worried about catching it. I want all my children home because Im neurotic but they all have coughs and suspect hygeine. Good luck everyone is all I can think to say and try to keep our sense of humours but at times Im even finding that hard. Im a news junkie but am trying to limit how much I watch the news now as its not really helping is it?
Diana Jerman says
I love your posts. I feel the same but as a working & now poorly parent. Good timing/bad timing I’ve just been signed off work for 2 weeks due to a low blood pressure issue (thanks to a Mirena coil insertion that’s done the exact opposite I had it put in for FML!) I literally cannot have my kids at home right now, I can’t even go to the loo without feeling I’m going to faint let alone look after my 2 toads.
Hi, I work in head office of a big hospitality group (think some of your favourite sandwiches and coffees) – and if I’m allowed to say, I’m distraught. The Government is doing nothing to help. Maybe 250,000 people in the UK will be out of jobs which bring people together. When I spoke to another mum who happens to be our MP (and is a friend) her answer “oh yes, there are some WhatsApp groups with Tories where people are suggesting we support business”. Well I won’t say how many weeks of cash we have but it’s more than most others and it’s not much. West End theatres etc – forget it. And your favourite kids’ places to eat – no cash. Even Starbucks, Nero, Costa – it’s UK people running franchises and they will be left to hang. Thank you Boris. So sorry but had to get it out!
I’m veering back and forth between wanting my kids at school, especially my oldest daughter with special needs who desperately needs the stimulation of school and panicking about them bringing home the virus to our parents. Can’t win really. I’m almost 50 and I’ve never experienced this feeling of global upheaval and uncertainty. Wishing everyone here good health and peace!
I’m feeling the same as lots of your contributors, Esther. I have parents in their 80s who are having trouble dealing with the advice on using hand sanitiser and teenagers at school, panicking about their exams. Trying to keep calm for everyone but mostly wanting to cry!!
Petra Aubert says
I am quite relaxed about it. Or am I? Think I’m in the medium group. A bit panicky, would like more clarification about what to do. I worry about my boys though. One is nearly 22 and away at uni and he’s totally anxious and worried about it all. He wants to come home, but only if we self isolate and I have told him to stay there as we are not. He will be totally panicking about hygiene and eating and everything. My 17 yr old is about to sit his A levels and I’m worried about the effect on this. Long term, I fear for people’s mental health, young or old. It is a strange time. Writing this makes me realise I am more concerned that I have admitted to. Feel for all of you with young children. I did see something on FB about the online resources available for parents/teachers if they have to home school, which I though was really good.
Totally agree with you Esther about the kids at school. I’m really really pissed off because my South American trip was cancelled on Saturday and I was so so looking forward to it. I know loads of people in the same situation and worse, but I just feel gutted about the whole thing.. F***YouChina!
The world’s gone mad…….At least Spring is here…..😬
Rachel Eling says
I think it’s the unknown for me. They will be off school for HOW long? I can’t see my mum until, what, July? When will I be able to do a normal Ocado shop again? With no concrete plan, all I can do is shop my way though it. A new linen kaftan arrived today—how useful!—and I’ve been browsing new Vejas.
Cathy B says
I’m in lockdown in Italy so the schools here have been closed for a couple of weeks now. We fully expect them to stay closed until after the Easter holidays. I’m sure I will be clinically insane by that point as my 7 year old is pretty much refusing to her schoolwork and my husband is working from home, on conference calls ALL bloody day!
I’m recovering from knee surgery and unable to walk for a month so this lockdown is not going to be one we’ll forget in a hurry!
Despite the situation here, many of us expats are far more worried about everyone back in the U.K. And we can’t understand why the schools haven’t closed and why the UK’s response is such an outlier in all of this.
Living the day to day reality of what it’s like here, seeing the deaths and the increase in cases rise astronomically every 24 hours, it’s hard to watch what feels like the UK’s complacency. Italy 2 weeks ago was a very different country. We were in Tuscany for a long weekend. We went to the Uffizi, drank coffee, went for dinner, kisses and hugged friends. It felt like this was going to remain a big problem for Lombardy and the North but there was still a semblance of normality. That disappeared overnight.
I’m not a panicker and I don’t catastrophise. But this virus is ripping it way through Italy and I think you’re only a few weeks behind us. Remember these days because it will seem like the last time anything was vaguely normal.
Life in lockdown is hard, especially with kids and everyone at home driving each other nuts, but I’ll take it over dying any day. I get it sounds over the top. But until you’re living through it, seeing 10 pages of obituaries in your local newspaper, when there should be only half a page, it’s easy to think you’ve got time.
Kids are undoubtedly carriers for this, so shutting the schools is a no brainier for me. This is not a virus you want to get. And it’s not only the elder population and those that are health compromised who are dying from it here.
The economic and social implications are horrific. There’s no getting away from the seriousness of how this will affect families in poverty. But this virus cannot be effectively ‘managed’ by balancing the economic costs against lives lost. In order to avoid hundreds of thousands dead over the next few months, the U.K. has to flatten the curve and it’s impossible to see how they will achieve that with closing schools and enforcing a lockdown.
I promise I’m normally a lot cheerier than this – but I’d be self isolating, pulling my kid out of school and not leaving the house if I were you.
It’s good to hear from someone actually living through what will be hitting the UK in a couple of weeks. I’m frustrated by the lack of sensible, organised communication from this government.
Daily briefings morning and early evening from the same calm measured person with numbers of people tested, no’s who tested positive and deaths are essential to make people understand how serious this is.
I’m a frontline NHS nurse and we have been informed by management that we are considered ‘Essential’ and should schools close our family need to sort our kids out, we are needed at work. (Easier said than done in some cases but I, for one, agree with it)
We are woefully low on hospital beds per 1000 people in the UK in comparison with most of the rest of the world, even Italy have more beds than us, before we even think about the black hole of 100,000 nhs staff which are just not in post.
Boris announcing that JCB will start manufacturing ventilators is utter nonsense. Actual ventilator manufacturers have said so, even if you magicked up more ventilators, each one needs proper oxygen supply and an actual physical nurse 24 hrs a day to manage both the ventilator and the patient.
I can’t help but wish we would all take this much more seriously now, when we have the opportunity to flatten the curve of transmission and hopefully prevent needless deaths, don’t even start me on those ill informed politicians and ‘people who seem to be interviews on the beeb a lot (cough Rhymes with Garage) of very little brain wittering about herd immunity, that is something that occurs following widespread and organised vaccination programs and we are at least a year away from a vaccine AND we will be behind the EU in the queue for the vaccine because they are a larger ‘buying power area’ and so will get to it before us. (it’s almost as though staying as part of the worlds biggest united trading and economic area might have been a sensible thing to do)
Please be careful people, wash your hands more than you ever ever have before and remember that nice hand cream is essential to stop your skin cracking and becoming sore due to all the lovely hand hygiene everyone is now performing x
Cathy B says
Hey Laura, firstly thank you so much. We have a very good idea of the pressures you and your colleagues will be facing. You are all heroes.
We have much more immediate information regarding the severity of this and real time social media posts from doctors and nurses across some of the more stricken areas of Italy. I don’t share them with friends and family because I know how traumatic they are to read and how scared people will be.
Everything you say is spot on and I just don’t know how we get people to listen? Please take lots of care over the next few months and thank you again.
You too, good luck Italy and good luck to the UK x
Thanks for sharing your experience.
I agree with you that drastic measures to stop the spread should be taken before it’s too late.
Here in New Zealand things are escalating quickly but our prime minister is acting responsibly and to protect lives.
I have family in Piemonte and it’s very sobering seeing what Italy is going through.
All the best
I’m in lockdown in Spain, in the 3rd worst affected area. Luckily (for us) Madrid outstrips the other areas by so much…. I think the extreme measures taken now will help stem the flow. Luckily no kids to manage. I live with housemates in a nice spacious flat, my work is easily done from home so I’m relatively unscathed. It’s is insane how fast things escalated in such a short time. A week ago I was thinking maaaaybe I’d have to cancel my trip to Scotland in April, and I was buying decorations for a party I was planning for next weekend. We didn’t think we’d have to cancel.
Every day you see the number of the number of cases increase by 1000+ at a time. Death rate at 100+ a day now. They say we won’t see the affect of the quarantine on the number of cases for a week, and the death rate lags a week behind that. I am so worried about my mum in the UK because no one is taking it fucking seriously. But I guess they won’t, because a week ago I was also thinking staying home was probably overblown. If every country and the WHO is making one recommendation… while the UK bravely goes its own way… I know which side I’m placing my bets on.
Cathy B says
THIS. I hope you and your flat mates stay safe Cee.
Georgia Chan says
This is like the echo of my thoughts… From my screen to your screen, all the best!
cindy fried says
Light relief – almost every woman I know has told me independently that if she has to stay home with her husband for 2 weeks she will murder him, whereas my other half thinks there will be a baby boom in 9 months – regardless of the fact that we and our friends won’t see 50 again. Ever the optimist.
Trying to stay off social media and limit news to once a day and not touch my face – the hardest things of all.
Kids off school was ever a nightmare – I still remember blimming inset days. And now my son will be home shortly from uni, comandeering the dining room table for study and making free with the Andrex.
This has scared me a little! I have 2 little ones under 3 and neither are on childcare so no change for me there. We are ‘social distancing’ because I’m scared that they might be little carriers passing it on to others. My parents are in their early 60s and I’m so nervous of them getting it and being very ill, I’m also scared of getting it myself as I don’t know who would look after my kids. I also find the ‘it’s only the old and sick that will die’ attitude quite disturbing. We are making up packs of basics for the elderly in our village who may have to quarantine but they all seem very ‘keep calm and carry on’ about it all. It’s all a bit weird at the moment isn’t it? Strange times indeed.
I’m in Denmark, two young adult children in the U.K., one in Singapore.
I’m most worried about the safety of my husband, who’s wfh now, who’s just asked me if I think we should ‘clean our flat’.
As if it’s a fucking plague pit.
He’s safe now as in another room, but I’ve eaten now revenge-eaten the Maltesers we had stashed.
Seriously though, if your mental wellbeing depends on space and peace these are going to be difficult times. I don’t know what to say. Other than I’m going to go and get more maltesers and find a good hiding place for them.
Heather A says
On a lighter note – just what are people doing with all the toilet roll?? People need to stop panic buying asap it’s causing more problems for everyone.
Well, firstly to Leona – I’m so very sorry for your loss. Losing your mother is tough.
I’m afraid I’m with Cathy on this – why are schools not closed?? I do fear for those who need school meals, parents who desperately financially need to work but children can carry etc etc we have to see the big picture until we see how it develops and there are vaccines.
Yes, I lived my children at school but it’s not a funny matter being fussed about them being at home. Believe me, I remember those day and not always fondly.
I’m 63 (mildish lung issues inhaler user,) my son 24 n getting flight home Nepal asap. Older son died from complex issues at 18. I’ve been through ITU with him,, pneumonia, much more. Its cruel to risk people,’s help knowing that there will not be enough ITU beds, ventilators when C really hits. And being unwell enough to be in hospital is not pretty either.
I’m only meeting people outside for walk, no touching, no coffee stops. Maybe a takeaway some day.
This is far too serious and I think healthy people don’t get how bad it is. I’m not a panicked by any means, just very aware of consequences and feel too young to die with son of 24. Not only ancient grans out there, mums too.
Wish you all well
Ella Ward says
Excellent piece and very timely from down here in Aus. People are panic-home schooling their kids and it’s making me feel like a arsehole for not doing the same.
We received a letter from the Chief Health Officer yesterday and it was great: logical, factual and clear. Made me realise how little of this sort of thing we’ve received from our govts this month.
Anyway. It explained why schools are still open, and helped me decide to keep sending mine.
I expect the ban will hit in the next few weeks and go on for 4+ weeks. So yeah, I’m sending her this week.
Esther, forgive me for doing some copy/pasting:
“The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC)’s advice is that pre-emptive school closures are not likely to be proportionate or effective as a public health intervention to prevent community transmission of COVID-19 at this time.
There is currently limited information on the contribution of children to transmission of COVID-19. The WHO-China Joint Mission noted the primary role of household transmission and observed that children tended to be infected from adults.
Previous work suggests that the potential reduction in community transmission from pre-emptive school closures may be offset by the care arrangements that are in place for children who are not at school. There is a particular risk associated with the fact that children may require care from vulnerable grandparents or may continue to associate (and transmit infection) outside of school settings.
Broadly, the health advice on school closures from previous respiratory epidemics shows the health costs are often underestimated and the benefits are overestimated.”
My niece is 15m old and has FUCKING BRAIN CANCER, has spent six weeks of this year in hospital already and now has to be in isolation TIL JUNE because of chemo and it’s so boggling unfair and I’m raging at the lack of loo roll
I had been unusually calm as I have been obsessed with hygiene and isolating myself for years and yet even I’m starting to feel the looming claustrophobia. It seems sensible to keep the kids in school at the moment; the shutdown is coming it is just a matter of timing and I assume that is dependent on factors which are being constantly monitored and reviewed. I think it was perhaps important to establish the social distancing strategy as regards people in older age groups before creating an immediate childcare issue that might rebound on those same people, so I can understand why it’s being staggered. My main concern at the moment has been my parents and in-laws. We have had farewell visits with both these last few days, and it was the first time I felt slightly panicked and emotionally sick about it all. I would take trying to teach my children anything over trying to explain to my tennis-playing, committee-running, extrovert mum that her lifestyle is going to change quite a bit, for quite a while, and that she will have to find ways to cope that don’t involve murdering my dad. Also my husband is diabetic and I don’t know how worried I should be about him; I deal with this by looking at graphs and stats. A sudden interest in maths could be the herald of a breakdown. It’s all just so WEIRD. And I’m so grateful to all of you on the front line of this, and dealing with all of your own personal stuff in the background at the same time. Jesus, good luck to us all.
Well, my husband wfh and I got home late from work having spent day working out covid 19 business continuity planning and emergency media shifts to a super messy kitchen, no supper and I nearly murdered him after one day! Everyone nervous here in Melbourne and panic buying out of control. They’ve just declared a state of emergency in Victoria and expecting schools to close in the coming days.
Pauline Wilby says
I’m 71 and my partner is 73. We’ve been on a 440 mile round trip today to pick up 2 vans for his son’s business! All our children (apart from him) live down south and one is in Denmark and I haven’t seen my grandchildren since before Christmas and was due a trip soon. His daughter is on the verge of having her wedding cancelled which should be happening in 8 weeks. I can’t bear the thought of self isolating and today, my book group has been cancelled and the dementia group I help run is cancelled from now. We will drive each other mad although we have most of the wedding wine in our house so may just survive in an alcoholic haze!! This all seems trivial I know but what are we supposed to do with all this free time when we can’t go out or meet our friends. We both read a lot, but a lot of television is not my idea of fun. There are so many people worse off but, according to guidelines we can’t help them. Sorry for the self indulgent moaning, any ideas gratefully received.
I’ve been using the quarantine (in Spain, fully locked down) to set up Skype and phone calls with people I haven’t caught up with in a while, that’s been nice. Could you try and do a Google Hangout book club meeting? You can download an e reader copy and video call to discuss. I’m also looking into online board games.
I’m under seventy, no elderly parents to worry about or grandchildren to mind if schools close. I’m in good health and I have the constitution of an ox. The small independent cinema where I work will probably be forced to close temporarily not least because the majority of our volunteer workforce are in the ‘at risk’ age category, but I will still get paid (sitting all day processing ticket refunds I guess). I can make a meal out of very few ingredients and I’m prepared to wipe my bottom with an old T-shirt if need be. So I’m much better off than most but still really anxious about the future. And stricken with guilt for picking up the last dented tin of chickpeas at my local Waitrose.
Aargh fuck angst calm tizz blase pragmatic freak-out!! In a nutshell. Also, have started sneezing so am now convinced I’m a carrier or infected and waving at my neighbour the other day was irresponsible and murderous.
Boys still at school until I’m told otherwise. Then it’ll be a fabulous lesson in ‘if you tell mummy you’re bored, mummy will find you a job to do…’ They soon learn 😉
Mainly though, I have missed you. I really enjoy your posts and have checked almost daily to see if you’re back. Am selfishly hoping the lockdown means you’ll be forced to write more 😘
I think it’s a perfect time to come and find me on insta (do I sound like spam.. apols, I’m not!) @noshsnack
As far as homeschooling goes, I’ve spoken to several people who have already prepared their children’s schedules in the event of closure, absolutely blitzing them every second with educational goodness or yoga. I don’t know. I don’t think I’ll be doing that. Try and hit a few things they need to keep up with for the sake of a bit of structure and sanity, but its a strange time for them too and my children don’t take direct instruction well from me unless I disguise it as something else, so I’ll probably do whatever proves least stressful for everyone. My son asked whether playing Fifa 20 counts as computing and PE so I’m not saying it’s going to be easy.