It has been a long 8 weeks since Leo Varadkar announced essentially a lockdown of the country and with it all work came to a halt.
It has been a strangely interesting time to be honest. And I’m extremely thankful that the weather has been so good, I cannot begin to imagine how this pandemic would have played out had the weather been typical for March, April, May.
Once the schools closed, instantly we were juggling more than ever. Rob my husband was still driving to work in Navan 5days a week and my 2 children were home alone while I attempted to work short days as all the grandparents were cocooning at this stage for various health reasons. Luckily my eldest is 15 so he was able to old the fort til I got home slightly earlier than normal. I have to admit we didn’t get off to a great start with the home schooling and once there was a sniff that the Junior Cert wasn’t going to happen the 15 year old switched off!
In work even though we had stopped testing in mid March, it took about a month for things to come to a halt so by the time Rob was furloughed 3 weeks in I was still keeping things ticking over behind closed doors in terms of glasses and the odd emergency eye problem.
So when Rob was furloughed, he got on with some level of homeschooling – he was building a new deck in the garden and so my youngest was helping to measure and line up the wood and the eldest was helping with cutting and hammering and both enjoyed getting to stain the deck! Life skills!
We had a new addition to the family the day after Leo Varadkar’s famous St. Patricks Day speech, a new niece for me, this time on the side of my in laws! A bitter sweet moment because we have yet to meet her in person, we joke that she will be walking by the time we get to hold her.
Mealtimes went from one to the next in the same way as the weekdays blurred into the weekends! With the weather being so good and having the new deck we would pretend we were on the holidays we were supposed to go on for Easter and would enjoy some beer or wine and some tapas and bbqs. Easter and the May bank holiday slipped by almost unnoticed. The eldest was challenged with some cookery skills, and the clothes started to get tighter!
3 out of the 4 grandparents were cocooning and one was in lockdown in the nearby nursing home. We haven’t seen him in person since early March, I myself haven’t seen him since early February as I was aware of the virus as well as the flu and being in contact with people regularly I was reluctant to visit just in case. The nursing home have been amazing and they facilitated a zoom call on his 50th wedding anniversary to his wife and family. They keep in constant contact with his wife which we are so grateful for. We would have a Kennedy’s Zoom every weekend to catch up with my parents and my 3 brothers and their families. One brother and his wife and 2 children were in lockdown in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, and were hoping to move home in June. Eventually 3 of them got a repatriation flight home, my brother stayed on as he had a new job and if he left there was a very high chance he would not get back in as the airports there were completely shut down.
For children it has been hard in some ways, not seeing their friends or if they did meet while walking they felt strange about talking to them or standing near them. Missing the social side of school, not missing the work! Missing their cousins and their grandparents and missing all the plans we had made for the summer months. But technology has kept everyone in constant contact and we have all upped our game in the technology stakes!
Maura and Eithne were temporarily laid off due to covid and the devastating impact it has had in the business. Maura volunteered in a nursing home while off which also meant she got to see her mother who was a resident there. And Eithne got on with homeschooling and quality time with her children. Meanwhile I was chief, cook and bottle washer at the practice, answering calls and emails, dealing with eye and glasses emergencies etc.!
So I will be very thankful when Maura and Eithne return!
Now we are looking at getting back to work. I have spent my time on developing the business and improving the layout of the practice to allow for safer social distancing as well as doing courses with WHO on infection prevention and control, and with the Local Enterprise Board on Health and Safety and Crisis management in a pandemic. I have to commend the LEO Kildare, they have been outstanding from the start, ready and willing to support SMEs in these unprecedented times.
It has been an anxious time also, optometry is quite a controlled setting and the changes we need to make to ensure we practice safely for our customers has unnerved us but I think once we get back to it everything will fall into place. On top of this Rob also goes back to work on Monday so back to juggling the kids with no grandparents to mind them and no childcare available. I am lucky my 2 kids are that bit older but I have colleagues in the same position with small babies and no family around to help and they have to work opposite hours to cover the childcare.
So fingers crossed tomorrow Friday 15th May 2020 Leo Varadkar will give us the green light for phase 1 and we will be able to see you all in our new normal!
And lately I have been thinking that these changes are a change for the better. We may be a little slower getting through our work but our quality of work will remain the same and possibly improve.
I look forward to welcoming everybody back to the practice in the coming weeks and months and I also look forward to meeting many new people who are working from home who may need their check ups before they go back to their commuter lifestyles in the later phases.
Stay safe and stay well.
And keep washing your hands!