As the news is announced that children will finally be allowed out of their homes next week for some daily exercise and fresh air, I caught up with some more families who have been under lockdown on the island. For some the relaxation of this measure cannot come soon enough.
The Rookers are Sabine, John and their daughter Naomi who is 12.
VMc: How has Naomi responded to the lockdown? Sabine Rooker: She is quite happy with the situation, although she is missing her friends from school and sport.
VMc: How did you explain to her that she needed to stay at home? SR: I just told her. She is 12 so that makes it a bit easier than explain to a 4 year old.
VMc: What have the benefits been for your family from the imposed lockdown? SR: Less stress from doing 100 things at the same time and going everywhere all day for school, shopping, activities etc. Quality time together, but the negatives have been no social contacts for Naomi for sure.
VMc: How has Naomi been spending her time? SR: We practise volleyball in the garden. She is learning the countries and capitals of Europe. Strangely enough she has not learned that at school yet! And she found the game Roblox, I am not so happy with that.
VMc: What about exercise and food? Have you noticed anything there? SR: Exercise is difficult. We do something everyday but it is not as much movement as she normally would have at school and sports.But she is happy to eat lunch with us rather than school dinners!
VMc: What is your personal view about the strictness of the lockdown.SR: In general I am happy about the strictness.It would be nice to be able to go outside once a day with my daughter. And we are looking forward to the 27th! We are lucky to have a garden, if you live in an apartment it must be a disaster.
Ruth and Tim have two kids, Oskar (7) and Leonie (6).
VMc: How have your children responded to the lockdown? Ruth Sandler: They have really enjoyed themselves! They have enjoyed spending time with us and playing with each other. It was difficult whilst we were working, I am a teacher and Tim works from home for a company in London, which means both of us are working all day. But during the Easter holidays I wasn't working and we had lots of fun. We spent our days learning about new countries: Sweden, Ghana, Turkey, Israel, America, Mexico, and Japan. Each day the children research facts and make a poster, Oskar writes a quiz and Leo and I cook food from that country. In the afternoon Oskar Facetimes his grandparents in London and Norwich and asks them his quiz questions and Leo and I cook dinner. We have made pasta, Swedish meatballs, sushi, tacos, pitta breads, kebabs, shakshuka, jollof rice, burgers and burger buns! Oskar has really enjoyed quizzing his grandparents each day. When I just asked the children their thoughts on lockdown Leo said thank you for doing lockdown as she has enjoyed it so much. The children have also grown closer together, they have spent hours mucking around together, making up games, drawing pictures and reading to each other.
VMc: How did you explain to them why they needed to stay at home? RS: Before lockdown they were aware of the virus, we always made it clear to them that it was dangerous for people with pre-existing health conditions and old people. When lockdown time came we explained to them that in order to stop the virus spreading and to protect the older and more vulnerable people that lived near us we have to stop going out to stop the virus spreading. The children were happy with this and agreed it was a good idea.
VMc: Have you been homeschooling them, or has their school had online classes? RS: School has provided online resources, though as Tim and I are both working full time during the school day we found it tricky to manage. Oskar has been working independently, but Leo needs a bit more help. So we help her in between my lessons and Tim’s meetings and then we pick up school work after the school day. I am not concerned about the children's academic progress. We are ensuring that they are reading lots, practicing their Spanish and Catalan and enjoying their school work. We don't want it to become a battle ground.
VMc: What have the benefits been for your family from the imposed lockdown? RS: We have really enjoyed spending time together. At the beginning of lockdown I felt very anxious and have had moments of anxiety throughout (this is a weird situation!) but Tim has been supportive, positive and encouraging, which has made me appreciate him more. He travels a lot for his work and me and the kids have really enjoyed having him here for this long! I have really loved hanging out with the kids and I have really appreciated their company and watching them playing together. Leo and I have learnt a lot of new recipes and I have learnt that my kids hate puzzles and that Oskar sings to himself constantly. The children have enjoyed spending time together and it has definitely brought them closer together. The children are also speaking to their grandparents more, which is beneficial for us as well as them.
VMc: And the negatives? RS: For me and Tim it's not being able to go outside to exercise (or just for a walk!!), or to go to bars or restaurants! For the children when I asked, they said their only negative is that they can't see their friends.
VMc: What is your personal view about the strictness of the lockdown? RS: When I speak to friends and family in the UK it seems crazy to me, as it's hardly like they are in lockdown. It worries me as I can not see how the rate of infection is going to stop or slow down. I am grateful that we live on a tiny Mediterranean island and though I find it difficult that the government has implicated a full lockdown I can appreciate the benefits. When I finally get to take my children on a walk, I will ensure that (as I normally do despite coronavirus) other members of society are not closer than 2m from my child.
The Patterson family are two adults and two children aged 3 and 6.
VMc: How have your children responded to the lockdown? Mrs Patterson: On the surface they love it! They are young enough to adapt and complied with the new conditions immediately. They play and watch TV and have us with them 24 hours a day. We don't talk in front of them about world news and yet their emotions and wellness has declined. From the third week onwards one or both of them would end up in bed with us every night. Where they played together like a dream for a few weeks now they argue, with us and with each other. Our six year old no longer wants to speak to any family or friends on the phone or online, she seems jolly and happy but politely declines to talk to anyone else.
VMc: Have you been homeschooling them, or has their school had online classes? MrsP: Their schools provide work but it all needs to be explained and supervised. Unless they are watching television, or maybe doing tasks that take up about twenty minutes on their own, they need our constant support. They are too young to even be able to read a book alone so we have to be with them creating activities and reading books for up to 14 hours a day!
VMc: What have the benefits been for your family from the imposed lockdown? MrsP: We live in an apartment building which is only about 20% full at the moment, before this we didn't know anyone as we had only just moved here and it is like a ghost town. Now we feel part of a community. We lean out over the balconies every evening and see other people's hands clapping and sometimes a face! We have exchanged numbers and jokes and vegetable delivery info and have waved balloons for people's birthdays and painted pictures for each other. The children shout to each other from the balconies, as we face the sea, a small slither of someone's head on the balcony clapping is the only other human interaction our children have had in five weeks now. The highlight of our day is watching the boats come in and out, we've done tallies and graphs. A few days ago we saw a pilot whale!
VMc: And what have been the negatives? MrsP: Every day is the same in an ongoing repetitive cycle, there is no weekend, no breaks and no leave. With two small children awake for 14 hours and sleeping badly, I would say one of them cries or screams every couple of hours. I feel constantly on edge trying to de-escalate things to avoid full meltdown and disturbing the neighbours. Trying to share the remote control feels like a volatile hostage negotiation. Only we are the hostages. We live in a 70m squared apartment with a small balcony. We look down onto a large communal terrace and beach which has all been roped off and forbidden. You can never give the children space from each other, or have any space ourselves.
VMc: What is your personal view about the strictness of the lockdown? MrsP: Seeing the original numbers in Madrid I was happy to be locked away, keeping everyone safe. We live in an apartment block and so feel a huge social responsibility to keep other people safe by not having our children potentially bring in germs. But now we see the numbers in Majorca by region, they are so low I don't see any argument to keep children locked inside. We are lucky to have big natural spaces, open the beaches and countryside and communal gardens and people could keep space around them. If you confine children to the streets as a next step we will just increase human traffic on pavements and thoroughfares.
Richard, and Agnetha and their four year old daughter.
VMc: How has your daughter coped? Agnetha Brown: My daughter didn’t mind not going to school anymore and especially in the beginning she enjoyed being at home and spending lots of time with her Daddy, who normally works a lot. But we also see that she’s getting more and more angry. She often has tantrums now or starts to cry about minor things. We live in the countryside without close neighbours and without being able to leave the house we don't see any other people. Our daughter asked us if we were the only people left in the world! As a family of foreigners from two different countries it is especially hard to be so far away from the rest of our families and to know that we can’t go there, should something happen. Also our child really misses social contacts with other children. And as my husband has started to work again I am alone all day with my daughter and I also miss social contacts.
VMc: How did you explain to her why she needed to stay at home? AS: We explained that there is a virus that you can catch if you leave your house and we have to stay home to protect us and other people.
VMc: Have you been homeschooling? AS: Our school is doing online classes, but for the little ones it is only 30 minutes a day. But to be fair for a four year old that is enough. We noticed that it is very difficult anyway to convince our daughter to participate in those classes and stay put in front of the computer. And the more she sits in front of the screen the more tantrums or mood swings she gets. But I have heard from parents with older children at our school that they are very happy with the online schooling and their children enjoy working at home. But with young children it doesn’t really work.
VMc: What is your personal view about the strictness of the lockdown? AS: In the beginning I think it might have been necessary to make everybody stay at home so that people understand how dramatic the situation is and really follow all new guidelines and rules. But now after six weeks children should be allowed to go for a walk or to exercise with their parents or the people they live with in the same household. It is especially important for children who live in the city in little flats. Children need fresh air and they need to move to stay mentally and physically healthy. To keep them locked up all day is against children’s rights and will probably lead to lots of new problems in the future.