Mothers in lockdown: Hafsa

Name: Hafsa

Children’s age: 
One and a half

Moss Side

What were your initial thoughts about how lockdown would affect you?
I’d just started a new job a month before the lockdown and was very worried about my future. Knowing what a lockdown could bring in terms of redundancies etc I was quite anxious, let alone missing out on the chance of being in the office environment with your new colleagues and having the chance to fit in. Working from home with a 1 year old no longer in nursery didn’t help ease my mind in this situation!

On top of this I had the added preoccupation of both my parents being in the vulnerable category however hearing from friends who have family and friends in Wuhan, I knew the lockdown was essential so this helped ease my mind a little.

What was the reality of those first few weeks of lockdown for you?
Just before lockdown had officially commenced, I was struck with what was believed to be COVID-19. I was fortunate to not have to be admitted to hospital however it wasn’t a pleasant experience. I had a temperature of 42 degrees and was barely able to stand for about a week.

My husband had to then look after Hakeem full time alongside his work and looking after me. I mentioned earlier having recently started a new job, and no matter how understanding your workplace is, when you’re new you just dread being off in your first couple of months.

What came out of the horrible experience of catching this flu was a gushing sense of happiness and gratitude for my wonderful husband and the new company I’d just started with for being amazingly supportive and helping me through this with the least amount of worry possible.

Once we were in the clear my mum came to stay with us during the lockdown as she was alone and not working. This made a remarkable change and gave us our routine back which we didn’t value as much as we should’ve pre-lockdown.

Has lockdown changed over time for you as the restrictions have been eased? My mother is no longer staying with us as she’s back in work and Hakeem is in nursery twice a week, but apart from that nothing has really changed with regards to what we do on a day to day basis. I think the main change has been mentally. Having the restrictions eased to allow 2 households to meet was a big turning point for me as it meant I got to see my sister and brother-in-law. Not being able to see them without being separated by a window was almost unbearable for me as I rely on them both to keep me sane at the best of times!

Have there been easy/positive aspects of lockdown?
​Being able to be at home with my little family was wonderful. As tiring as stressful it was at the start tried to juggle everything around, lockdown meant we were both home to see our little boy take his first steps.

Hakeem has developed so much and we’re truly grateful to have not only been around to witness it but to be able to share those moments together. I’ve enjoyed being forced to slow down socially. I was always the ‘yes’ person dragging us all to every single event going and constantly having our calendars filled but I think it’s been a really positive experience staying in and enjoying our own house and garden. Dare I say it’s been enjoyable being antisocial? I’m sure lots of people are thinking it, I can’t be alone in this!

Have there been difficult/negative aspects of lockdown? 
​The anxiety of what this pandemic brings and the overwhelming amount of negative news being thrown at us on a daily basis has been really difficult to deal with. Before lockdown I’d been following a great plan of reducing my screen time and the amount of time I spend on my phone. As lockdown started I decided to ease this restriction I put on myself in these circumstances but I don’t think this helped. Pulling myself away from this and vowing to only read printed news publications and not read the news online which eventually gets me in a chain of horrific article after article has helped.

Both my parents being vulnerable and worrying about ageing grandparents has also been particularly difficult.

Has your work been affected? 
Not to a great extent. I’ve been really pleased that I have still had plenty of new and exciting things to be continuing with. I was furloughed for 3 weeks which worked out perfectly timing-wise in terms of childcare as my husband had just finished his period of furlough and my mother was back at work. I’m very fortunate that I’m able to continue working remotely without it affecting my work much.

What has helped you get through lockdown? 
A number of things have played a part…
​My husband, for sure. Not just for helping me whilst I was sick, but for being my main source of rational information and advice when everything seemed to be getting a bit much.

Gardening, gardening, gardening. I concocted a rather large garden project (albeit small garden) during lockdown and have been ploughing on with it. The combination of tending to plants, taking on a big project which I could see instant results in and learning new skills (I was very proud of myself for laying the paving slabs in our garden) has helped a lot. Having a big, personal project to focus on was key for me.

My little boy Hakeem. He is a wonder to be around and is constantly keeping us entertained. I know lockdown would’ve felt much, much longer if he weren’t around.

Have you learnt anything, during lockdown, that you will want carry forward as it is eased? Are there things that you might even miss?
I love the office environment but I’ve really enjoyed working remotely as it meant having homecooked lunches with my husband, spending my usual commute time going for a walk in the park instead of being on a bus and wearing my joggers everyday! I’ve learnt not to take my own city/area for granted as there is so much to explore right on our doorstep. 

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