Mothers in lockdown: Ciara

Name: Ciara

Children’s ages:
9 months

Leigh, Greater Manchester

What were your initial thoughts about how lockdown would affect you?
I was initially really worried about the financial impact of being locked down. I was on Mat Leave and my husband is a self employed plasterer so the thought of trying to survive on SMP was just unimaginable. Pearl was only 5 months old when lockdown started so I was still a new mum trying to figure things out, and this new added pressure was really quite scary.

What was the reality of those first few weeks of lockdown for you?

I kept reminding myself that this was time together that we wouldn’t never normally have as a new family of 3, and we were really lucky that we were in good health and had each other. But the reality was having to learn to be together in such an intense situation was difficult. My husband is a hands-on dad so he helped with whatever he could, but as time went on we found each other’s habits irritating, probably due to lack of sleep and money worries. It wasn’t the same as being together for his 2 weeks paternity leave.

Has lockdown changed over time for you as the restrictions have been eased? 
We slowly started to find our own rhythm after a few weeks. My husband would do all the shopping and the things that involved contact with the outside world, and I would enjoy long walks with the baby in the pram. Even as restrictions lifted we still kept this routine as it felt right for us. Things seemed to be easier if we had a plan for getting things done.

Have there been easy/positive aspects of lockdown?
The main positive for us has been the fact that my husband has been able to spend so much time with our daughter while I’ve been on mat leave. We’ve been able to share a lot of firsts which he would have missed if he was at work: sitting up, first laugh, first time standing unaided. It’s been such a big help having him around during the day, and I think it’s probably had a positive impact on my mental health because it’s meant I can keep on top of housework and other chores so in the evenings I could relax.

Have there been difficult/negative aspects of lockdown? I’ve carried this constant guilt about all the things we’ve missed out on doing with the baby while she was so young. We had playgroups booked, trips planned, places we wanted to visit to see family. It felt like all of that was taken away overnight. All that time Pearl had spent building relationships with her family would be forgotten and the thought of her not knowing anyone except mummy and daddy was heartbreaking.

Has your work been affected? 
I’ve recently returned to work after 10 months off and instead of going back to the office I’m having to work from home. The current situation has meant I can’t put Pearl in nursery so I’m having to rely on family to help look after her, and I’ve got her at home 1 day a week. Trying to work and look after a baby, who’s still not sleeping through because we’re breastfeeding, is hard work.

What has helped you get through lockdown?
I never thought I’d say this but the mums I talk to on Instagram have 100% helped me get through lockdown. Before pregnancy I would never have been that person to talk to strangers online, but the nights are long with a new baby and talking to a community of like-minded women has been a lifesaver. Just to have a bit of conversation with someone who knows exactly what your going through is priceless.

Have you learnt anything, during lockdown, that you want carry forward as it is eases? Are there things that you might even miss?
I’ve taught myself to sew, and having a hobby that I can dip in and out of has probably kept me sane. Its been really hard not being able to do all the things I would normally have done, like seeing friends and family, meals out, drinks with the girls. I’m really glad I’ve learned something productive as it’s given me a sense of accomplishment, and I’m going to keep it up even after lockdown ends. I’ve started making clothes for my daughter and I’ve had so many compliments on them, I’ve got people asking me to make things for their daughters too.

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