The pandemic affected everyone over the last year and a half but I think the biggest sufferers were babies born in lockdown. Children had to completely change what they know about the world around them.
My son was born a month before lockdown hit, but remained in hospital for two weeks post birth. So by the time he came home we only had a few weeks of freedom. I do seriously thank my lucky stars that he was born before the pandemic because my birth was traumatic and my son had to spend time in ICU. Hospitals stopped everyone coming in and out; preventing birthing partners from being present until their partner in labour was 4cm dilated. I am not sure how I would have coped with the lack of care I received after my C-section… It must have been traumatic for so many other parents.
Lockdown has affected children across the world and I have seen this firsthand. My son didn’t interact with any children of his age until nearly 8 months old and it even then, this interaction was with two children from afar. He didn’t meet a little girl face-to-face and play football with her until he was 15 months in a park. It was a really difficult sacrifice to not see family and he only met some family members nearly a year into his life. I still have friends who haven’t met him due to us not being able to travel. Only when he was over a year old was he able to have his first experience of a bus ride, going to a park and sitting on a swing.
His behaviour has changed more than anything in the last four months. He won’t go near anyone he doesn’t know and won’t be left with anyone except his dad, my parents an me. When we enter a new environment, he has to be held and refuses to be put down in the fear that he will be left. I know kids all go through this to varying degrees, but the anxiety he has is next-level… Sometimes just getting up out your seat at home or going in the next room causes screaming and panic.
It is really sad to see the stress it causes him. He has been locked up in our home with only certain people and understandably to some degree, it has become his safe space. Whilst he has been at home we have worked with him to make sure we make everything as interactive as possible: constantly reading and talking to him, as well as painting with him. One thing I must say is that I am really proud of him and grateful for the family around us. Despite the challenges, my son is very clever and has hit his milestones head on. The milestones include rolling over by three months, walking by nine and then talking from around thirteen months! His favourite activities are reading books and playing football, although he is always trying new things and figuring stuff out.
I feel really let down by the government as a new mum in the pandemic. I lost all of my “new mum” benefits: free dental care, baby classes, midwife visits and I just about got a health visitor. I felt completely abandoned and forgotten and had to chase up on everything from booking jabs, follow-up hospital appointments and just generally getting the help and assistance I needed. The only saving grace was the help I was provided to help with my mental health, for which I am forever grateful.
Nursery sessions are just about to begin for my little boy and, as much as I am nervous, I am excited for him too. When he is around children he is so happy, loves playing and it is such a lovely thing to see. I am easing him in gently and he will be starting out at two days a week just to get his social skills improving and to get used to spending time around children his age.
Working from home with a lockdown baby is tough. You cannot give always give them the attention they need and you have to manage the juggling act of having them stuck inside with just you all day. They crave your attention and bring that out in some bad habits, for which you can’t blame them.
Let’s hope the next year brings joy for children and gets them back in the class rooms permanently. I know some children have struggled with Zoom, not seeing their friends and not being able to play properly. They have also had to adapt to the scary concept of everyone wearing masks! Just remember to always check in with your children and make sure they are ok; it’s been a tough year for them.
In writing this I hope I can help any other parents going through the same thing. Remember, you are not alone!