Covid and the accidental author

Charlie Golding is a mum on a mission to help children better understand the world we are living in right now. When The World Went Inside is a beautifully written children’s book, perfect for starting conversations with our little ones about life inside a pandemic. Charlie shares her story here xx


It was an ordinary bike ride in an extraordinary time.

At least that was what I was aiming for. If I could get out of the house.My 3 year old clung to the door frame, crying and refusing to leave; as I wrapped him in my arms and felt his heaving wracking sobs against my chest it dawned on me that this was no ordinary tantrum. This kid was frightened. As I held and shushed him, he finally started to talk. As the mumbles became more coherent it dawned on me what was going on. And with that realisation came a bolt of ice through my heart.IMG_2239

He was scared of COVID-19. 

At just 3 years old he was unable to discern between a virus which he could manage and control, and a monster which was hiding behind the bushes, just waiting to leap out and grab him!

This was March 2020, and COVID was just starting to get real in Victoria.

I had missed the memo about Doomsday prepping. In February I was living my best life as a working Mumma to three glorious dirtbags. I simply popped my proverbial fingers in my ears every time someone mentioned the dirty C-Word. Whilst I definitely enjoyed the virus memes and toilet paper jokes, all of that was safely contained within the internet. I was living in the real world – and it wasn’t going to affect me. 

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And then one day I walked into the supermarket and came eye ball to eye ball with a terrifying figure in a full HAZMAT suit and gas mask. I looked around me and the aisles were empty. My core chilled and I wanted to cry. Except I couldn’t, some bastard had just made off with the last box of tissues.

Suffice it to say that I didn’t handle the start to COVID well. However, as I sat in my hallway holding my sobbing baby boy, I realised that whatever I did next – I had to aim higher for the kids. 

At this stage of the crisis very little existed to help children understand COVID-19. Hell, there was very little out there for the adults. But I dug deep and came up with a Tumble Science podcast. The kids reacted enthusiastically and we listened to it again and again. They loved the science behind it – learning how the virus had mutated and where it came from meant something to them.

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But you can’t cuddle up with a Podcast. In our family we use bedtime stories as a springboard to deeper conversations; I’ve used fictional books to cover topics on history, sex, gender, race and equality. The story never covers everything there is to talk about but provides a baseline that propels the conversation forward. Naturally, my first instinct had been to go looking for a friendly family text; but being so early in the pandemic one didn’t yet exist.

Believe me, my immediate reaction was not to put my hand up to write one! I had a job, and a family and a crisis to deal with, after all! However, COVID-19 was dominating our conversations. I realised that the more we spoke about it, the more reassured we all felt. I communicate openly, it comes as second nature to engage children in honest yet challenging conversations. However, my locked-down friends were telling me that they weren’t sure how to have these talks. How much information to provide and what to withhold? After all, what information do little brains need? Can we damage inherent innocence by laying it all out too honestly?Microscope

My experience tells me that children will only absorb what they are ready to hear. If you talk confidently and provide facts reassuringly then you can trust kids to take from that conversation what they need. 

When The World Went Inside is our lockdown story.

It’s an illustrated book for children that emerged from our lived experience. It’s a powerful story told simply, written with the hope that children would see their own experiences mirrored within the pages and feel less alone. 

Hot on the heels of this global health crisis, is a mental one. There’s a lot that 2020 has asked of our little ones – from stopping and starting school, to living life as never before. Thankfully, they’re resilient little critters. 

Every time I hear from a parent or teacher about their child’s reaction to the book, my heart soars. Parents we’ve got this!!!

The creative world has stepped up and there’s now a toolkit of resources out there to help guide your conversations with your children; maybe my book will be one of them. However, my purpose for writing this is to plead with you to prioritise your mental health, whatever that looks like. Our children need us happy, healthy and whole. With us standing strong by their side they’ll continue to thrive, no matter what the world has in store.

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About When The World Went Inside

Learn how to stay safe and keep having fun in a world with COVID-19. This fun and beautifully illustrated book is best for kids aged 3-10 years old. If you’re parenting in a pandemic then join in the chatter in the socials!

www.whentheworldwentinsidebook.com

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Tumble Science link: https://www.sciencepodcastforkids.com/blog

 

2020 has taught me I’m only nice when I can go out!

Ugh! Day 45,765,024 of lockdown and now we’re under curfew here in Melbourne. A State of Disaster is currently underway! For most of us who have been doing the right thing, this is just another smack in the face from the assholes that seem completely unable to think about anyone but themselves. Yes I’m looking at you, the party people and the 25% of people with a positive covid test who didn’t stay at home and isolate! IMG_8161

As I now have even more time to sit at home, #thankyou, I thought it was probably a good time to find a space that isn’t covered with pencils, umpteen Apple devices and crumbs, open my lap top and write about what this whole covid-19 disaster has taught me and what, if anything, I have learnt.

 


Liv’s Lockdown Learnings

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From very early on in this whole debacle, I came to the conclusion that in order to be a great teacher you must have oodles of patience, you must be kind all of the time, and you must be gently accepting of handwriting refusal. I can confirm I am not a great or even a good teacher. I have found the whole remote learning thing intolerable, unrelenting and downright cruel. I can honestly say I haven’t enjoyed a minute of it. Remote learning has left me even more in awe of what teachers do every day, and when this is over I will be making a placard and marching for better pay, even longer holidays, and regular expensive gifts for all teachers!!

Staying Home, Staying Safe

The novelty of “staying home & staying safe” very quickly wore thin in our house!! There are only so many movie afternoons, and sweet little family games of scrabble you can play before you start turning on each other and throwing monumental tantrums. Being Super Mum, arranging all sorts of wonderfully educational activities, very quickly IMG_4472turned into 9 hour stints on the x-box and days without even seeing the children leave their rooms. I have battled with the screen time thing, I have gained about 20kg from insisting we all bake together, and I have vacuumed the bedroom carpets so often I think they need replacing.  I understand we need to do this for the sake of humanity but staying home for this length of time is brutal… Let me out!!

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Working from home

Is there even such a thing anymore? How can anyone work from home, whilst the dog whines for another fucking walk, the children need help with their work, and snacks need to be made every 18.2 seconds?

I work from home even when we’re not in the midst of a global pandemic and I’ve always been great at organising myself and my time, not anymore! The thought of actually having to get work done within any sort of time frame, has become a gargantuan task that feels like walking with my eyes closed, through treacle with splinters in every one of my toes. Yes, it’s that bad!IMG_3839

Meal times

Where do I even start? How can anyone even…….

Being nice

This far into lockdown, I have almost given up even attempting to be nice if I don’t feel like it. It’s all I can do to grunt at my family when I get up in the morning. The thought of what lies ahead each day literally mutes me from the instant my eyes peel themselves open through the mascara I’ve slept in. *Hey, don’t judge me, I’m living through a pandemic…  I appreciate we’re blessed to have a roof over our heads, to have food and warmth, but god, everyone is annoying me!! The way they speak, ask for food, drop stuff, trip over things, breathe, chew their food, change the channel on the tv, ASK ME QUESTIONS ALL THE TIME….. I’m a grenade right now and my pin has been pulled!IMG_4976

So, what have I learnt?

2020 has taught me I really, really like going out!! I like going out to eat, for walks, to socialise, to drink, to dance, to visit places, to travel, to sightsee, to explore, to meet new people, to work, to exercise, to shop; and if I can’t go out, I’m not a very nice human…….. So, for the sake of my family, please, please stay home, stay well and do the right thing. Our sanity is relying on you all!!!

 

 

Do the right thing, even when no one is watching. It’s called integrity!

IMG_7440Liv xx

 

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Covid-19 Making expats feel even further from home

 

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Photo – Andrea Piacquadio

Covid-19 is throwing ‘life as we know it’ into something we have only ever seen in films. It’s pushed us to think long and hard about what we we really need, and shown us just how much we take for granted. (Not necessarily a bad thing?) We all have so many questions as we sit back and watch it unfold across the world, in ways we could have never imagined.

“We are in a war against an invisible killer,” UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock

For expats, living far from their loved ones, this pandemic hits us hard, not only because our every day life is fast becoming unrecognisable, but it’s hit us in the heart.

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Photo – Cotton Bro

 

 

Whilst we are experts in conversing via video chat, and writing letters to friends in far off lands, nothing has prepared us for being helpless when seeing our loved ones in lockdown. We are only able to watch on as our older relatives need us now more than ever. Over 65’s in the UK are facing a long stretch of time at home in isolation, and when that includes your family members, and you’re so far away, it’s hard. A month ago, we could have jumped on a flight, and raced to the rescue if a parent or family member was sick, needed us, or worst case scenario passed away. Now we’re feeling shut off and we don’t know how long for.  Many expats are deeply concerned they may never get the chance to see some of their loved ones again. 

 

My sister is a doctor in an NHS hospital. Last year she had lymphoma and faced a long battle against cancer, she has only been well enough to return to work full time in the last month. I’m terrified she will get sick and die and I will be stuck here in Australia. My Dad is also very vulnerable, and she won’t be able to visit in case she passes it on as she will be exposed at work. I am so scared I may never see them again. I’ve always thought that I could get home in 24 hours and now that’s not the case and I hate it – Chloe Reynolds 

“I’m feeling far away”

Flights are being cancelled and border controls are being put in place to stop people spreading the virus. When you rely on flying to get you to your family, this can lead to feelings of claustrophobia and panic. We are too far away to pop a cooked meal on the doorstep of a loved one, or pop by and check on them (through the window), so who’s going to help them?

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Photo- Lisa Fotios

 

 

At a time when Age UK have stressed the importance of thinking of “practical” ways to help the elderly, such as running errands on relatives’ behalf or picking up supplies such as food and medication, it is tougher than ever to be overseas. You feel helpless. The only thing we can do is make an extra effort to check in on our local community, reach out to the more vulnerable people in our streets, and hope that people are doing the same for our family too.

My parents were due here early May. We haven’t seen them for almost 4 years. Also my 70+ dad has heart condition & mum weak immunity. Yes that distance suddenly got a long way away.  It is what it is, but gosh what I would do to have a hug from my parents right now  – Sarah Trett

With so many frightening scenes around the world, we have mixed emotions about the Covid-19 pandemic, but it’s important that we are brave, not just for ourselves but for our loved ones too.

It’s like a nightmare, my Dad passed away yesterday, Mum isn’t coping at all and my only brother is in isolation as my nephew is sick- Paulette Smith

At this stage it’s hard to ascertain how long we will be faced with restrictions or determine when will it be ‘safe’ for any of us to get home, so the most important thing for everyone to do, is keep in touch, keep strong and most importantly keep well.

I have a frail elderly mum who is 83 and living by herself in the UK. Luckily the church community are keeping an eye on her.
I have a brother who is a respiratory physician who will be very much at risk of catching the virus.
A sister in Belfast who helps run the breast cancer services whose services have basically stopped to push resources and manpower to care for those with the virus, leaving those who get sick with cancer and needing surgery having just to wait!
My other sister is a teacher … keeping teaching in her school for those children of key workers. Very anxious times. – Juliet Clayton

Despite all our worries, and our feelings of helplessness during this crisis, we must remember, this pandemic has the ability to segregate us all, but it absolutely has the capability to bring us all closer than we have ever been.

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Photo – One Shot

 

Have courage, and be kind

 Liv xx

 

If you are an expat, we’d love to hear how you are keeping in touch with loved ones back home. What are you doing to assist or make life easier & brighter for friends & relatives who are far away?

The quotes in this article came from the women who are part of the UK Mums in Melbourne Facebook Group.  You can find them on Instagram too!