Parenting in a Pandemic - Story 3

1st October 20

Thank you to everyone who submitted their stories for our Parenting in a Pandemic piece. We are covering one a week for 3 months due to the response we got, all absolutely incredible pieces that show the honesty behind lockdown, what we encountered along the way and where we are now. We have decided (unless the author has requested to not be anonymous) that names and details will be withheld and have left it to them to come forward if they'd like to and if they feel comfortable.

Lockdown has been an intensely difficult time for myself and my family. My husband, son (and rescue dog) live in a small flat comprising of one bedroom, a small living room, a tiny kitchen and one bathroom. Prior to the outbreak, my husband was off sick from work and I did a bit of babysitting work 2-5 days a week which I mostly took my son along to but if this wasn’t possible, then my husband did the childcare. My 2 year old son and I are very close and have a beautiful relationship and our situation was one where we were all muddling through together.

It was almost the exact same time as when the UK went into lockdown that the first instances of problems began with our neighbour. He would start by having loud conversations on his phone in the communal hallway every 15 minutes, throughout the day and night. It was impossible not to notice, we couldn't escape it and it was disturbing my son's naps and nighttime sleep. As time went on, it was clear my neighbour was having some sort of mental breakdown, he would talk to himself or someone who wasn't there; I'd seen him talk to birds out the window and it became clear he wasn't washing as any time he'd been in the hallway, it would stink of body odour and sometimes this smell even came into our flat.

I didn't feel safe to talk to him so we never did, I went through the council's antisocial behaviour team but it wasn’t long before he realised it it was me who reported it. I had mentioned to them about how he'd been knocking my door on his way in and out to wind my dogs up (we were also temporarily fostering another dog) and one day he confronted me about reporting him and threatened me with my son in my arms. He was arrested but released on bail the next day with the condition not to talk to me and hasn't since but is still a nuisance and a huge source of anxiety in the hallway, and subsequently our day to day lives.

The behaviour made me and my husband (especially him as he has severe anxiety) very anxious and on edge. Quiet is important to both of us but this was now impossible to obtain and I noticed a dramatic decrease in both of our wellbeing and mental health. My husbands mental state was at an all time low and he begged me to let let us move in with his parents. I don’t have a good relationship with my in-laws but felt that my hands were tied and I was desperate for my husband to be well again. I had no support with my son because of my husband's mental health and it meant he had a garden to play in and more space to run around. After about 6 weeks though, it was apparent that my husband was doing better and now my mental health was starting to be affected by being with his parents. They, in turn were fed up of sharing a space and the mess that comes with a child so we came home and we're coping a bit better but it's still really tough. I try just to take every day as it comes.

We're still struggling and my husband and I have both got back on meds after a long time off them. We're very much hoping to get a bigger place but as we're the lowest possible council band without having no priority for housing, it's unlikely at this stage but we remain positive. I’ve learnt through all of this that I'm more resilient I realise and I'm good at putting others first. This period of my life has been more challenging that I realised. I’ve had to deal with situations I didn’t think would ever happen to me, look after my family from both a world-wide pandemic and within our own safe space, our home.

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