We spoke to Sports and Fitness Lecturer Graeme Mair to see how life has changed for him due to isolation. He’s found himself as the full time carer of his two children aged six and one whilst also trying to support his students and wife, a nurse with the NHS.
Getting into the way of it
I’ve been trying to juggle supporting my students online and via video conference, in particular the HN students who are undertaking their Graded Unit projects, while also looking after my two wee ones in the house.
My son is in Primary 2, so has been given lots of tables and grids to complete and various other work during this time. My little girl (18 months) is highly exploratory, getting in to all kinds of unsafe places and is still well in to the nappy stage which is always interesting. Trying to school one, while play with the other, and checking my College email is taking some getting used to, but it is just about working out.
We try to get out for our hour a day that typically involves cycling and a play at Dunblane High school play fields as far away as possible from anyone else. My wife had a few days off from nursing over the Easter holidays and I was so grateful to have her around. I was genuinely gutted and anxious when she went back to work, but the weather has been kind in letting us briefly escape and get out each day.
It’s actually very re-assuring living with an NHS practice nurse, as in general, all nurses are very calm, organised and understanding of what is going on which helps to debunk myths and keep life normal.
She is incredibly well organised and on the ball so by the time she has left for work, we have the kids changed, fed, and ready for a fun day while she has dropped some ideas to me via whatsapp! We are actually both incredibly grateful to be working for the public sector at this time which has very much reduced the stress levels of worrying about job security in the short to medium term.
It is in the back of our minds that my wife could potentially be bringing the virus home with her each day, but her work has obviously greatly increased their levels of PPE, while as a family we have increased and re-double our hygiene routine and rules. I try to have a meal ready for her when she gets in, and the kids bathed and ready for the wind down. We then typically have a chat about how her work has gone, which is quite cryptic as she respects patient confidentiality, but she enjoys hearing how the wee ones have got on and the mischief they have got up to.
While I adore my kids, and have thoroughly enjoyed spending this time with them, I’m not going to lie- this is tough, and a real mental strain. I am extremely envious of the chilled lockdowns of many of my friends who have no kids, no links to the NHS and are watching every box set and getting all their houses and gardens looking amazing! My house looks like a bomb hit it every day, and the only TV I get to watch is ‘Postman Pat’ or ‘In the night garden’, and still have to get up every day around 6.30am with the toddler. I worry I am not doing enough with my son academically when I hear on my wife’s ‘parent whatsapp’ chat that their kids are all learning Algebra and on to their 5th language.
A special bond
I would also say that my son and I have never done so much sport together, which is something close to my heart. I always hoped to get round to playing more catch games and kicking a ball about, but struggled for the time. His skill sets are coming on brilliantly, and I love that it is me developing these skills and not some random coach in a random class. My son learned French in primary 1, and I had no idea! Somehow I never picked up on this, but he actually knows lots of words. We are enjoying pretending we are French and learning a word a day together growing his vocabulary.
And there is no doubt my bond with my one-year-old has gone through the roof and is certainly stronger than the one I had with my elder son at that age because I am getting to spend so much time with her. This is pretty cool!
The bond between the kids is also stronger than ever, and this could have gone either way! They play very well together, which I am very grateful for – fighting would have driven me over the edge! I hope they remember this time as fun and not as awful, I think they do.
The students across all of my courses are proving to be remarkably resilient and adaptive to the new situation. They seem unfazed by moving classes to Teams or ZOOM, and are proving to be reliable for sending in work and communicating. It is not ideal, but work is still going on and between us, we are getting through many of the tasks and assessments.
As much as I sometimes think I am stuck in a bubble of the same old tasks and stresses every day, I am aware everyone is going through this, and not just my wee family. We are very grateful for what we do have, and count the blessings.