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Reflections on lockdown - with Laura Frankham

In this series we share experiences from some of our followers of their life in lockdown, their caring responsibilities and their highs and lows.

Prior to lockdown, I was in therapy. I was suffering from full burnout with a very serious twitch in my eye that wouldn’t go away so, I had handed in my notice at work. My job is mentally hard; I work with kids who have awful backgrounds as they struggle their way through a broken educational system. By contrast, I would return home to my own wonderful family and try to be present but I eventually realised I couldn’t do it anymore. I felt like I was reaching breaking point and had no other choice but to make a change. However, the universe definitely had something else in mind.

As a safeguarding lead in a locked down world, my job turned into a lot of chasing. Calls, emails basically any signs of life. The first month of lockdown was spent scrambling together a “distance learning and care plan” and although no one was prepared for this event, the team got in to the swing of it and a lot of students adapted well. Things calmed down and I began to feel more relaxed and I appreciate that I am lucky. I developed a morning routine of a little bit of yoga or cuddling up with my youngest daughter before starting into work.

My husband is a scaffolder and was not furloughed and I therefore became the primary carer of three daughters aged 2, 11 and 13. I had to keep a very tight ship between the hours of 10 and 3. My older girls really had to step up. They organised their own home learning and helped me with the youngest during the day. It took a bit of time to get into the groove with some meltdowns along the way (including myself) but they have been incredible and I feel like I undersold them before! That being said, I’ve given up trying to keep clothes on my toddler and whilst I am concerned that she will never wear pants again, she’s happy and that’s what counts.

My employer has been brilliant throughout lockdown as they quite quickly realised that output was more productive at home. It’s been a more positive and efficient environment and has made me rethink my decision about leaving. I have therefore agreed to stay on for the next academic year. As for the support from the government - ha! Being in education has been a minefield and it feels a bit like making a sculpture out of jelly.

Whilst my family and I have adapted well, the hardest thing about lockdown was how hard it hit my Mum, who lives in another town and struggled in the absence of cuddles from her grandchildren. I’m her only support network but I couldn’t support her in lockdown.

One good thing I can take from lockdown is getting to know my kids more. By being with them 24/7, I have really got to know them; they really are awesome and they’ve made me so proud. I will, however still advocate that we will all require at least 24 hours away from each other once this is done. Another positive I can take from lockdown is my calling as a quiz master; turns out I can knock up a pretty good one and I really enjoy doing it. Quizzes are now my life.

My advice to people in isolation is to talk to someone when things seem overwhelming. Whilst you might feel like you don’t have a support network of friends, family or work colleagues, there is so much help available. We are all going through this in our own way and talking will definitely help you realise that.

Laura Frankham

This series was the brainchild of Georgia Lombard. Editing and compiling has been done by Bex McKinty - a Belfast based blogger writing about anything from food and films to people and politics with the underlying aim of empowering womxn from all walks of life. Follow her at @girlscantthrow

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