Lockdown gave me time to really appreciate my amazing children with SEND

While people are emerging out of lockdown, and some children are returning to school, other families remain carefully shielding. While same families have enjoyed the chance to spend more time with their children, to slow down, and to see their children's school anxiety vanish, for others, struggling with school work, getting food supplies or money, it's not been an easy ride.

One mum of children with SEND, Angela Kingston, a long-time SNJ reader, has sent us a look behind the scenes of her front door and how she and her four children, two of whom have additional needs, have been coping. Two of Angela's children have EHCPs. One normally attends a mainstream college, while the other has "enhanced provision", but are currently learning at home.

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How lockdown helped me reconnect with my children by Angela Kingston

As I sit down after another day, when the household and educational tasks have all been completed, I reflect over the last two months. And I do so with a huge smile on my face.

I look back on the beginning of this journey, receiving the call from my child’s college and school regarding the impact of COVID-19 on my children’s educational placements. Those very difficult discussions seem a distant memory. I’ve grown, you see, not only in size, since lockdown, but I’ve grown even stronger mentally and emotionally. I feel more connected as a family unit than ever before.

I am a single mum of four. Two of my children are young people with EHCPs. Our journey has been a difficult one. Like most, we are fighting the system for the basics, feeling most days we're failed by our local authority’s basic incompetence. It's those things that have affected me the most. They've robbed me of valuable precious time with my family and have taken me away from 'just being mum'.

Lockdown has given me freedom. Ironic, I know, but it has allowed me to properly connect with my children, particularly my younger two. It has given me an insight into their daily educational lives, their personal struggles, zest for life, individuality, sense of humour, sparkle, progress, barriers and their masking, along with their beautiful souls. Even in the midst of a pandemic, I have witnessed the softness of how they view the world.

Over these months, I have only allowed one update of COVID-19 to enter our home. This was an unforgettable 7 pm Sunday update, which made me appreciate being separated from news.

My children lost their nan to COVID19. I realise that no party political broadcast could change that for them. It couldn’t soften the blow for my youngest daughter who cried herself to sleep.

Performer-in-chief

I became a performer every day. I sat at the dining room table and I performed. I became the joker, the entertainer, teacher, therapist, the mental well-being coach, social worker, nurse, chef, good cop/ bad cop all rolled into one. There was no one else to point the finger at but myself. I also became my own critic.

I’ve signed up to free courses for hours to enable me to be able to support my son with his public service course. I’ve found my inner childhood and passion for learning, remembering the teachers who had a positive impact on me at secondary school. I aspire to be just like them through this experience and hope my children will look back and think I gave it my all through such a difficult time.

I have laughed so many times and I've cried too… (a lot!). Mainly from exhaustion, but there have also been a lot of happy tears of just how proud I am of my children who have rarely complained about what’s happened. They have just carried on regardless.

I have seen them blossom and become more resilient. We have had healthy debates about the “What if Boris said this?”. When my eldest found out that Boris was planning for college/school catch-ups on a Saturday, he was able to give his view of the pros and cons; the public service course is a blessing!

We've all learned and grown during lockdown

Every day has been different, which at times can be tough, trying to prepare and plan for their individual needs. Our dining room has become our school, our college, our therapy room. I have found myself sat in between them supporting them both or individually. I have gained confidence in navigating the different online learning platforms and have increased my proficiency in making the best use of the support I have received from the school/college. All their calls, emails, text messages of admiration and feedback has kept me going.

Today was the first day that I have had a break in weeks and I sat and cried. I let the tears flow down my cheeks to feel the warmth against my face as I sat in the garden, the sun blazing down, drying the tears. I appreciated those few hours of rest that many others would usually take for granted.

I have seen so much suffering from parent carers throughout this process, through a Facebook group I run. The financial hardship, poor mental health, loss of a relative, job losses and breakdowns in relationships (that I know so many will never recover from). I not only keep going for my own family but also for those other families, providing a scaffold of support, to keep them lifted in their hour of need.


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Tania Tirraoro
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