The Bruneel Family.


Whilst we have been clapping every night for all of the frontline workers, there are some other heroes that we should also be acknowledging, our kids. They’ve been under house arrest for more than 40 days, how have they and their families been coping?

The Ionescus

Ariana and Athos

The Ionescu family are Cristina, Eddie and their daughter Arianne. They live with their dog Athos and cat Sasha.

VMc: How has your daughter responded to the lockdown? Cristina Ionescu: Our daughter Arianne, who is 12 and a half, was very understanding, maybe because she is wise beyond her age. Obviously we explained to her, in terms that she would understand, the importance of the lockdown and how it will help the health system to deal with the infected.

VMc: Have you been homeschooling or has her school had online classes? CI: We have been doing the whole homeschooling thing with no online help, just homework that we had to do the research for (the most difficult were all the subjects in catalan). We had a tonne of emails backwards and forwards between the teachers, but it is getting harder to motivate her day by day.

VMc: What have been the positives for your family? CI: Due to the fact that we have a restaurant and only get Wednesdays (our day off) together we hardly ever have time as a family in the evenings so it is nice to have homemade meals together. We haven’t been getting any takeaways as we are on a tight budget, but we have been doing loads of cooking: lunch, dinner and some puddings.

VMc: What have been the negatives? CI: NO OUTINGS! At all. Ariana hasn’t left the flat, except for two occasions when she helped with the groceries from the carpark to the flat where she was outside for 2 minutes.

VMc: Has your daughter been taking up hobbies or finding other ways to spend her time? CI: She started to draw a lot more, which is a little hobby she had toyed with for a while, and she restarted paper crafts, she has been hand making masks by cutting up some of my old t shirts, she has been reading a lot and doing puzzles, and helping around the house.

VMc: What about exercise and food? Have you noticed anything there? CI: Food intake has been a big issue, sweets were going down a lot faster, so we stopped buying them altogether due to the lack of exercise, but we are trying to counteract this with exercising on my stepper and just random youtube workouts.

VMc: What is your personal view about the strictness of the lockdown? CI: Our building has a communal area with a large pool and a green area which some of the neighbours have been using to take their kids to ride their bicycle, or go on their roller skates etc. But we have obeyed the rules, and I think it is not fair or sane for kids to be confined when even our dog has 2 walks a day to do his business. It is different if you are fortunate enough to have a private garden and pool, but to have to stay 24/7 locked up in flats, a little walk will do wonders. No parent would put their child in danger by breaking the social distance rules. Normally by this time of the year, my daughter would have already dived into the pool, and gone in the sea, and got a light tan.

The Hekman Navarros

Michelle, Leylah and Gonzalo

The Hekman Navarros are Gonzalo, Michelle and their daughter Leylah who is 9.

VMc: How has Leylah responded to the lockdown? Michelle Hekman: Not too bad in the beginning. Leylah loves to be at home and only likes to go to school to be with her friends and join in with sports. She was even a little excited at the beginning to start a new kind of learning at home on my laptop.

VMc: How did you explain to her why she needed to stay at home? MH: At school they were given some information on the last day, basically about how the virus was spreading and that they needed to wash their hands more often. I remember Leylah being upset as the teacher, who she is very close with, didn't want to hug her goodbye which is something they always did after every school day. “How long is this going to be for?”, she asked me. “Only 2 weeks right?”. Of course, we didn’t know what would be coming but we told her around that time yes, although we weren’t sure. Then later at night over dinner, she asked us again, “But the virus isn’t that bad right? Why can’t we hug people any more? When can I see my teacher again, and my friends? Could my friends come over for sleepovers? Playdates?” She is an only child and every week we normally invite one of her friends over to keep her company. So we used this moment over dinner to explain to her in the best way we possibly could. At that moment we never expected a total lockdown lasting so long. Neither that it would have such an effect on us all.

VMc: Have you been homeschooling Leylah? MH: We received six folders of homework and an App called: Snappet from school which has all of her classes on it. The app isn’t easy to use and we have been stuck quite a lot of the time. It has been an exhausting struggle. Her teacher told us to relax and take some steps back from the schedule. We are so blessed to have a garden, but unfortunately because of the bad weather we haven't been out there much. This made me think a lot about children and parents living in apartments in Palma with a small balcony, this must be so hard on them. Leylah told me she is lonely and only feels part of something in the Roblox game on the iPad where she is building houses and trades pets with her friends. When we had to tell her we had canceled the family holiday we’d booked in July and we were not sure when we could go to visit the family in Holland this summer she got extremely emotional. There are just too many changes for them in such a short time in their little world. I am sure we are not the only parents struggling with all this.

VMc: What have the benefits been for your family from the imposed lockdown? MH: We decided that we could all use some help and tools to deal with the situation so we contacted a therapist to help us all online. The first session was very productive. Leylah had to answer questions about her feelings. She voluntarily joined us at the table for nearly 2 hours; it felt very good for all of us to focus on this. For us as a family the most important topic during lockdown apart from keeping physically healthy has been to stay mentally healthy. And definitely we have appreciated more quality time than usual and more time to talk. We have become stronger as a little family and feel more united than ever.

VMc: What is your personal view about the strictness of the lockdown? MH: At the start of the lockdown we were quite happy to be indoors, and it felt safe regarding the virus spreading. During the following weeks it became more clear that being in a total lock down makes you feel closed up, disconnected, lonely, useless, depressed, angry, and really confused. The actual thing that you need in a time like this is the thing you are not allowed, contact to others and some freedom. My opinion is the extension of the lock down now does more harm than good.

The Benets

Emily and Sol

The Benet family are Diego, who just celebrated his 40th birthday in lockdown, Emily and their daughter Sol who is almost 2 years old.

VMc: How has Sol responded to the lockdown? Emily Benet: Good. But she does ask for "parque wee wee" (which is the little playpark in our complex) and after her friends at least once a day.

VMc: How did you explain to her why you needed to stay at home? EB: I said everything is closed. Her Papi says everything is sleeping.

VMc: What have the benefits been for your family from the imposed lockdown? EB: We have been extremely creative. We view rubbish (paper or card) as an invitation to make something. My husband and I have finally started to write a script together. We are communicating with our other family over zoom quizzes, family who would only have got together at Christmas due to being so international.

VMc: What have been the negatives? EB: Sol not being able to play with her friends is the hardest part. At 2 years old a screen can't replace them! Social interaction is so limited so it gets difficult sometimes.

VMc: Have you been finding other ways to spend your time? EB: We have befriended ants and millipedes which we may have ignored before. We point out every detail to Sol.

VMc: What about exercise and food? Have you noticed anything different there? EB: It’s been the same. Despite not running around as much she has a siesta and sleeps all night. We think all the books and arts and crafts may be stimulating her brain more!

VMc: Do you think children should be allowed outside for a period of time like the UK or should we stay at home and continue the same procedure? EB: I don't think we should be like the UK because their rules sound confusing. I do think we should be allowed out with kids 30 minutes a day to walk nearby.

The Bruneels

The Bruneel family are Jan, Katie, and their daughter Léna who will turn 8 next week and their son Luca who will turn 6 next week.

VMc: How have your children responded to the lockdown? Katie Bruneel: Very well actually, we are always honest with them, and we have made it a positive experience rather than scary for them!

VMc: How did you explain to them why they needed to stay at home? KB: We were honest, we explained about the nasty virus, we showed them the soap and pepper trick, and we showed them how touching things can spread bad bacterias, for their age they were very understanding.

VMc: Have you been homeschooling them, or has their school had online classes? KB: We have had homework sent from school including experiments, which was very exciting! We have also been improving on their languages. Their papa is from Belgium and I’m from England, so they have 4 languages to keep up with.

VMc: What have been the benefits for your family from the imposed lockdown? KB: Having fun without the added stresses of everyday life.

VMc: What have been the negatives? KB: Unable to have a family walk, we are keeping them fit and healthy but they need to run, and run further than a little garden!

VMc: Have your children been taking up hobbies or finding other ways to spend their time? KB: My children are not very good at playing alone, so they have learnt a lot of new things with us, they have learnt to make pancakes, two main meals each, they have learnt 29 flags, my boy has learnt how to tell the time, my girl has learnt how to write in a secret code, and she has been giving her Belgium cousins English classes online, and her English cousin spanish lessons, they have both learnt how to clean and dust and also garden! Plus lots more!

VMc: And what about exercise and food? Have you noticed anything there? KB: We try to exercise in the morning, we do a family workout with Joe Wicks, either indoors or on our terrace, my girl has dance class three times a week online, and we do races! Food has been very similar to normal.

VMc: Do you think children should be allowed outside for a period of time like the UK or should we stay at home and continue the same procedure? KB: I am very proud of Majorca the way that we respected the lockdown, and so far so good for us, the children and us don’t miss anything other than being able to do our nature walks.