‘Please don't cough at school’ - cautiously returning to routine
Routine returned to our house last week and never before have I taken such pleasure in packing a lunch, setting an alarm and rushing everyone out the door for 9am.
I returned to the office in Carrick-on-Shannon, my eldest went back to school, my baby started play school and my husband finally got a few minutes of peace from us all!
It was an emotional week, physically and mentally it was draining for most sectors across the country.
It almost felt as though the entire population was holding its breath for the past four weeks, in anticipation of back to school. Never have we held our education in such high esteem as we have in the past month.
School. Had. To. Return. Our economy, our community, our mental states depended on it and so when the time arrived, when the classrooms reopened and students took their seats, we were finally allowed to let out a sigh.
It was a sigh of relief and hope mixed with new worries and concerns.
The new normal
September usually heralds in the return of routines; timetables full of study, exercise, hobbies, meal plans etc. But all of these things now come with the caveat that you must be ‘adaptable’.
The new normal means things could change at a minute's notice, you might be dropping your child off to school when you are told the class/school has been cancelled, the county could be put into lockdown restricting your movement, you might need to self-isolate due to contact tracing. The new normal is an acceptance that things are not normal, life will not resume as it had previously, but we must move on regardless.
Remember when you left home to go to college or work for the first time, that was a new normal. Remember when you moved in with a partner or started living alone that brought a new way of doing things and thinking.
Remember when you brought home your baby and your life changed forever? Or when you brought home more children and your previous single, carefree life seemed like a dream? Every now and then you might look back on your old life, but usually you are too busy living in the now.
As we become accustomed to this new way of life, we should take the lead from our children. For the most part they have taken the past six months in their stride and from my observations waltzed into school last week with open minds, eager to learn.
Both of my kids (5.5 years and almost 3-years-old) wear their masks without any issue in public; while I still struggle with remembering to bring it, with sweating and itching and laboured breathing underneath it; the pair of them act like they have always worn them.
They count to 20 every time they wash their hands (the preschooler counts to ten twice!), they sanitize, they avoid contact with adults and they do it all without moaning or complaining.
For our children, this new anti-social, book ahead, queue to get milk and bread, stay 2 metres away lifestyle is not a ‘new normal’ it is just normal.
To my pre-shcooler, masks indoors and excess handwashing came at the same time as potty training and moving into a big bed, they all form part of his daily life.
And like all changes, some things have improved since Covid-19 restrictions in Ireland.
Booking to bring the kids swimming means there are less people in the pool, eating out is more efficient (some places even send you the menu to choose your meal ahead of time), the cinema is a lovely experience, appointments and services are more streamlined and even a doctor’s appointment is less stressful.
A few weeks ago I called to bring my youngest to the doctor and was told I was behind five people in the queue and to wait in the car. For almost an hour the boy got to play in the nearby playground, away from the coughing and spluttering of a waiting room, his energy was spent and he actually sat down quietly when we got the call to see the doctor.
Prescriptions can be emailed from a phone call and overall I feel customer service has improved, my custom is actually valued.
More people are working from home and while that comes with a lot of challenges for those with young kids it also brings advantages, now when I take a tea break I head outside and throw the ball for the dog.
The time that was previously spent on the road commuting can be used more efficiently to get an extra few bites of breakfast in the morning and more family time in the evening.
While surprise visits have fallen to the wayside, time with family and friends is more cherished.
Cold and Flu season
With schools back and the heating turned on, we all know to expect colds and flus. Except this year the common cold has been elevated to a new improved status.
Instead of asking the kids to “be good” as they head off to school, I will now be begging “please don't cough!” Being sent home for bad behaviour seems to carry less stigma than a common cold!
The temperature gauge is now the most important tool in the house.
Stocking up on Lemsip and Calpol just won't cut it this year, a small sniffle could bring the whole household to a standstill.
We will be registering and booking our flu vaccine for the whole family this month, GPs and pharmacies will be dispensing them. This year children age 2-12 can avail of the free vaccine which will be a nasal spray. The more people who get the vaccine the less overcrowded our hospitals will be.
While hospitisation is usually undesirable, this year it is even more so.