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Aussie mum endured stage 4 lockdown in Italy with family

NSW mum gives an intriguing insight of the ups and downs of living in stage 4 lockdown in Italy.

The first week in March it was announced that the state would go into complete lockdown. Meaning no leaving your home.

The only reason one could leave their home was to get food from the supermarket, or for urgent health needs. There was no visiting family, moving outside of your immediate region even for food, and only one member of each household could do those things.

To go to the supermarket, we needed to fill out a form stating our residence, our reason for leaving home and it was checked by police at many roadblocks they had set up during the lockdown. The situation was surreal, to say the least.

Numbers of contagions were skyrocketing, but worse than that, numbers of deaths and sheer panic and overload in hospitals all over the country was terrifying. We reached deaths over 900 PER DAY for many, many days at its peak.

These kind of numbers are inconceivable, although I doubt for the front line workers they were… they had it right in front of them day in, day out as it tore their spirits apart and demanded a whole new level of courage and stamina unlike anything they had to have delivered before I am sure.

For us whose duty it was to stay home, we could only look on as the TV showed us images of never-ending trails of military trucks taking away the waves of deceased from hospitals. For us at home, all we could do was pray and weep for the tragedy of it all, and do what was required of us. That was to stay home.

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“As his mummy, I did the best I could do to reduce that suffering the best way that I knew how.” Source: Supplied to Kidspot

For 63 days, complete lockdown

For me and my son (he is 4 years old and my only child), that meant not leaving the house not even once. Blessed to have a small outdoor area new made the most of that on sunnier days. (It was winter during our quarantine).

It was challenging to say the least. For everyone in the house. You see it’s normal that our meltdown, high stress moments and our calmer, chilled moments weren’t all coinciding with each other’s, which meant conflict arose as it would. So navigating that was one challenge.

As a family we did share our fears and frustrations, and there were definitely outbursts and arguments but we also kept ourselves grounded and sane, I believe, focusing on being grateful for our safety and health and the time together that under normal, faster paced, busier life would not have allowed us to have.

That constant checking in and realising the blessings in disguise is what absolutely stopped us from getting caught in a high stress, conflict provoking cycle.

My son is a vibrant, highly social, active little boy so suddenly being kept at home was distressing for him. He is a lover of nature and the outdoors (the Aussie in him) and he suffered during this time immensely. As his mummy, I did the best I could do to reduce that suffering the best way that I knew how.

“I got my arts and crafts on big time. We usually are a creatively inclined duo my son and I, but I upped the ante.” Source: Supplied to Kidspot

So life looked a little like this for us during this time…

We threw rigidity out the window (not that we have ever been a rigid parenting unit) but we relaxed even further into allowing our son to process and release his confused feelings on everything that had been taken away from him.

I got my arts and crafts on big time. We usually are a creatively inclined duo my son and I, but let’s just say I upped the ante, I am talking dioramas of solar systems, dinosaur lands, seasides, jungles – you name it, we made it. Which when you haven’t had the forewarning to do your craft supplies shop beforehand becomes an interesting and challenging affair! We got SUPER resourceful with what different objects could be turned into. I do believe the creative flow and exploration and that one-on-one quality time every day was our saving grace. For him and also very much for me too.

We also danced and moved a lot. So we ran around a lot. Literally in circles on our patio. We put on music and jumped around the house just being silly and free. It was fundamental that we moved and that we got our silly on.

It is cliche but we DID bake! I have never made so many cupcakes in such a short amount of time with my boy. But again it was healing.

We also gave ourselves downtime

Which you would think you would automatically have in a lockdown? Well, you don’t. The racing thoughts and the heaviness of being locked in means that doesn’t flow naturally. So I made the deliberate “this is downtime” calls for us as a family and we would sit on the couch and watch a film together. Or read. Or just sit in the sunshine. This was also healing and so necessary.

Personally, I got deeper into my yoga flows and meditations which weren’t always smooth sailing in this context. It’s heavier than anyone could imagine – but this also kept me sane. My son also got into cosmic kids yoga. Lifesaver! Highly recommend this for youngsters.

“My son also got into cosmic kids yoga. Lifesaver! Highly recommend this for youngsters.” Source: Supplied to Kidspot

I kept working…

Which for me did not really alter during lockdown as I already work online part time. Although one of my companies took a bullet, as with many industries. I have an entertainment production company based out of Sydney and as restrictions came in, events and gigs were cancelled one after the other and subsequently that hit us hard. It’s about hanging in there. I guess. I have faith that this too shall pass. I also send a massive virtual hug to all of my fellow performing artists and entertainment providers. We will get through this!

My son being only 4 meant some homeschooling – but nothing too serious given his age, so I got lucky there. I know fellow mums with school-aged children here who have had to do homeschooling and zoom calls with teachers and the verdict has been immense stress on them and the kids – not to mention the stress of losing incomes while one parent is forced to be the role of teacher at home.

Life here now is far more “normal” in the sense that we are no longer in lockdown and we can leave our immediate areas and even regions. However, we are all wearing masks in shops, indoors and in crowded areas. School has not gone back and it is a big question mark over whether they will open for the new school year in September. Non-urgent medical procedures are still not given any immediacy.

There are limits to how many people can enter a premise and all restaurants etc, have distancing in place. Some businesses have not been able to reopen and that is truly devastating for many families. People are concerned about a second wave after summer and what that might mean for us all.

The positive side is that there is an appreciation for freedom and the simple things that perhaps many people weren’t able to see pre-COVID. There is a slower pace that is now being even more embraced (southern Italy never really had a problem there anyway…) and people are no longer consumed by fear.

“My son has an endless list of other scary things no mother wants for her baby.” Source: Supplied to Kidspot

It seems there has been an adaption

My son and I were always living like that before this pandemic. We practice gratitude for every day and I am dedicated to instilling a wonder and awe for the simple beautiful things that make up life in my son for an array of reasons. One big one being that my son has NF1. A genetic condition (in his case, a spontaneous mutation in the gene) which brings about tumours, bone deformations, cognitive issues, fibromas on the skin and an endless list of other scary things no mother wants for her baby.

At his young four years on this earth, he has already faced more mires and hospital pokes and prods that many adults have not ever had to have. He has a plexiform tumour in his jaw, a thickening of his optic nerve, a slight scoliosis, and is very, very active. It is a progressive, unpredictable illness without a cure. That kind of wakeup call makes you approach life in a certain way that at the end of the day, is a blessing because you take nothing for granted and everything as a gift.

I also want to add that during the lockdown I saw a side to Italy that confirmed my love for it. As terror swept over the country, and rightly so, a movement title “tutto andra bene” – which means “everything will be ok” – swept over the country.

All of us mums and dads didn’t have all the answers – we hugged our babies to sleep at night, realising just how fragile and precious life is for us all, and then held them even tighter. When we could stop, pause and accept that we are never ever in control of anything. Despite the discomfort of that truth, it opens us up. It was a symbol just as much for us all as it was for the children of Italy.

“We hugged our babies to sleep at night, realising just how fragile and precious life is for us all.” Source: Supplied to Kidspot

Advice for my Australian friends?

Listen to the experts on this. It is easy to rage, and resist and question. I am someone who questions a lot of things and believes very much in being an empowered human being.

But this is something that truly takes lives. It harms many. Take it seriously without being consumed by fear or panic. Do the right things. Take on a community focus where we take care of our neighbours.

We take care of our people. All of our people. Wash your hands, wear a mask, don’t go out unless you really need to. If it gets to that point where that is necessary of course.

If you are in a lockdown, embrace it as much as you can. Get very friendly with Zoom and FaceTime and really talking to your friends and circle.

Release stress and tension through whatever means allows you to do that. For everyone that is a different costume. Go with the slowness, maybe it’s something you have never been able to experience before?

There is gold to be found in a slower pace. If you lean into it. Be kind to yourself. It’s OK if it is challenging you. It will. Go with that too. Cry when you need to – but then get back up and paint your rainbows.

Thank each day you wake up alive and healthy. If this epidemic teaches us anything, it is that our health and our loved ones are top of the list of what we can be truly grateful for.

Natalie Thais wrote this article exclusively for Kidspot. For more of her stories, check out her blog here.

“Release stress and tension through whatever means allows you to do that. For everyone that is a different costume.” Source: Supplied to Kidspot

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