Mothers in lockdown: Maura

Name: Maura

Children’s ages: (Grandchildren) 9 and 2

Location: Bolton

What were your initial thoughts about how lockdown would affect you? I was dreading it although I assumed it would just be for 3 weeks. My grandchildren came to us in Nov 19 on a temporary care order, when the little one was 1, as he’d been badly assaulted by his Mums partner.

So to keep them busy and active and distracted we were going to the cinema, soft play centres, zoo, swimming, days out, eating out and all sorts at weekends. We booked to go to Spain for Easter. This all had to stop. So we had our daily dog walk and playtime in the garden. Combined with very difficult decisions to be made at work to keep everyone safe too it was an awful time of feeling suffocated and tense. (I am the CEO of a homeless charity.)

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

Trying to meet the demands of social services who were insisting that direct contact visits were to go ahead despite my daughter not social distancing. I fell out with my daughter over it and we are still not speaking. (t’s been 6 months)

Trying to meet the needs of the children; school remained open as I am a key worker, but nursery closed and so the 2 year old was at home for 4 weeks.

Trying to receive, digest and interpret all the guidance and respond immediately to it all for my staff teams and clients to make sure we were compliant and safe.

9 colleagues had Covid in April, May and June. They all recovered but it was stressful for everyone. We had a huge staff shortage. We very nearly had to close one of our emergency accommodation services. 

My best friends Mum died of Covid in the 2ndweek of lockdown; she’s still traumatised.

Husband had to work from home full time too, which did my head in.

My Mum who was the only other person permitted to mind the children could no longer see them. This was very difficult for her and damaged her mental health.

I developed depression. I cried a lot, daily, if not more.

Has lockdown changed over time for you as the restrictions have been eased? 

A little.

Having a bubble and having my Mum back was brilliant for all of us.

Being able to go out a little more freely was also great. We have had weekends away and days out and stayed within our bubble but been able to get fresh air and have some fun with the children.  

Work has been a lot easier. 

Have there been easy/positive aspects of lockdown?

The only positive has been that we have survived it. I was worried I would not be able to cope if the children were given to us permanently but if we can manage under these conditions we can do anything. 

The lockdown meant the final hearing for the children which should have been in May has been postponed until October. This has given my daughter an extra chance to get them back, if it had gone ahead in May she was still with the abusive partner and the children would have remained with us permanently. Now, I am not so sure.

It has given me access to funding opportunities for the charity that otherwise I might not have had; I have secured £177k since April in extra funding through a variety of grants from £1,000 – £70,000. 

Have there been difficult/negative aspects of lockdown? 

As above, feeling trapped and unable to get out with the children. Felt like I was grieving but no-one had died; it was just my life.

I had to make 1 person redundant and furlough 3 others.

I was envious of people transforming their homes, gardens, learning new hobbies, reading, baking, meditating and being active. I just couldn’t do this with 2 children around me 24/7 and no access to babysitters.   

Has your work been affected? 

Making sure I fulfilled my contractual hours has required flexibility, working weekends to catch up.

In June one of our residents ended his life through isolation of the lockdown. It was a really tough time for my colleagues one of whom cut him down and performed CPR. This was the low point of the year.   

What has helped you get through lockdown? 

I just kept focussed on each day and tried to make the most of what we had.

We have a large garden and the good weather at the start was a god send we were all out there making dens, knitting, gardening, playing games and having picnics.

Anti depressants; it is the 1st time in my life I have ever taken anything like this. I have stopped crying.

Friends support.

My Mum’s help.

My husband.

Re work – the knowledge that so many others were relying on me to lead, be confident and assure them we would survive, which I have and we have. Failure was not an option as they say. Neither was giving up!

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 have learnt how to use zoom and I detest it. I will not miss this when I can stop.

I’ve learnt how to be creative in planning activities with the children and it doesn’t always need money. I will continue with this.

I have learnt a lot about people.

It has given us a chance to create an irreplaceable bond with our grandchildren that we would never had the chance to do. They adore us and we them.

Read more about Maura’s story here:

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