Juggling & Jumping – balancing work, uni and kids during COVID-19

I contacted Jenna to see if she would be a part of this project as I knew she was studying nursing and Luke was working away. Turned out he had just returned home after being away for 3 weeks. Jenna had been doing a lot of shifts at the hospital and her mum & mum’s husband had just moved in. Oh and let’s also throw in some home learning! There was plenty going on :)

How would you describe what is happening right now with COVID-19?
It’s been 8 weeks (12 now) since I realised that Covid-19 was pretty serious. I remember being at a netball carnival on the 15th March and everyone was on edge. We were all glued to our phones waiting for ScoMo to do a press conference to see if schools would be shut that week. I did pull my kids out of school earlier than the Government called it. I believed it was important to take swift action to try and flatten the curve before it really started to climb.
What is happening right now in the Darling Downs region, is that our health service is very well prepared for the onslaught, which kinda feels like it’s not going to happen now. The hospital is very quiet, wards are shut and empty, ED presentations are down by less than half. I would attribute this to there being no weekend sports (less injuries), no pubs being open (less brawls), and also because the general public are avoiding the hospital so they don’t risk catching Covid-19.
Queensland is doing a test run of easing some lockdown restrictions this weekend, so I guess we see if there is a spike in a couple of weeks.

How has this affected your family?
The un-rushed family time together has been awesome. I don’t feel like I’m living in the car ferrying the girls around to their various extra-curriculars. With no swimming lessons, gymnastics classes and netball training and games on this term (so far) I haven’t had the usual nightmare that is scheduling everything in and then doing all the running around. The girls are missing their friends and activities but for me personally, the down time has been so good. We are fortunate that we live on an acre, on a quiet street, so we have been going for walks and getting outside a lot. The trampoline in our front yard has been getting a workout that’s for sure!!

My Mum and her husband moved in with us just before Easter, they made the move from the Gold Coast. This had been planned for 6 months prior to Covid, and the timing was actually perfect.

How has this affected your work and Uni?
As a massage therapist, that work has completely stopped. I miss my clients and the cash-flow but at the same time, my work with Queensland Health as a student nurse has really ramped up and I’m getting more shifts than I ever have. Again, great timing for my Mum to be here to help with the kids because ordinarily I cannot work when my husband is away working.
Uni has been a big old mess! I’m fortunate that I’m on the tail end of my degree, and my only theory subject this semester is an online subject. Getting my uni done whilst the kids have been home full time has been tricky. The big girls need my laptop to get their home learning done so I was a bit stressed about it all a few weeks ago but we’ve managed. I had my next placement withdrawn due to Covid, however I contacted the placement team and explained that I’m happy to go anywhere that is still accepting students! So now I’m off to Stanthorpe in a couple of weeks for 4 weeks.

What is one thing that has surprised you about this event – positively or negatively?
The every-man-for-himself mentally at the start of this whole thing was not great (think toilet paper and pasta shortages). I suppose I’m not really surprised but at the same time I think I was because we’d just come out of that horror bushfire season earlier in the year when people really came together. The panic and selfishness seen at the supermarkets seemed like a backwards step in our humanity.

One brilliant part about it all is how the earth has been given some time to take a breath. The top of the Himalayas are visible for the first time in many years, the water in the canals in Venice is clear. Who knew there were dolphins in that water?? The reduction in pollution has been awesome.

What is one thing you will always remember about this time?
The uncertainty and fear in mid to late March. There were no clear cut answers, only scary predictions. I was very worried about how I would keep my kids safe, I will never forget that feeling. I did my best to remain calm with them though, downplayed Corona Virus talk in front of them and tried to be business as usual and nonchalant about why we were keeping themselves and us at home.
I’ve really loved having the time to go for a walk with the dog (Scout) and the girls. The novelty wore off pretty quick with 2 out of 3 of them but Zola will still jump at the chance to go for a walk with Scout and I. I will miss having the time to do that with her when the extra-curriculars kick back in.

What do you think is really important right now?
That we all keep up our hand hygiene!

What have you done to stay in touch with others?
Zooms, video calls via messenger, messaging friends and family to check in on them.

What is one thing that you miss right now?
I miss seeing my brow girl!

What have you been doing to keep yourself and your family busy?
I have been working a lot, and doing uni when I get the chance. We make sure the girls are active most days, going for a walk (begrudgingly for some!) or taking them for a bike ride. My 11 year old, Gretta, has baked something nearly every day. I’ve loved seeing her confidence grow in the kitchen.

Does this scare you?
The thing that scares me the most about this virus is that I fear that this is a dummy-run. I think the next one – whether it be in a year, 2 years, 10, 20 – will hit Australia much harder. Virus’ are the new warfare, and that is terrifying.

What is one good thing that you hope will happen after this is all over?
I hope we all remember how good it is to not be over-scheduled and rushed off our feet all the time. I hope we can all keep things simple.

What is the first thing you are going to do when it is all over?
Go to the pub for a pub lunch and a draught beer, after getting my brows done!

I agree with the words that went around facebook a little while back: We are all in the same storm, but not in the same boat. This virus has affected every single person and their day to day life, but it has affected us all differently. It’s important not to compare other people’s situations with our own. We are all doing the best we can with the situation we find ourselves in. Some are sailing through and some are floundering. We need to be kind to everyone and help where we can.

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