It’s been so good hearing from different people during our Life during Lockdown series. It is the chance of my friend Alexa to finish it off for now:

Alexa is a mom to two busy boys, wife to a great guy and a social worker.  Being outside makes her happiest but her big passion really is that people know that they matter. 

What has lockdown been like so far?

It’s been a juggle: of responsibilities, of needs (in my house and outside of my boundary walls), of awareness and choosing what to engage with and what to walk away from. We have loved some of this time to be honest – but that’s purely because of the positives it’s given our family. As a family it’s been a gift of time as I watch the relationships between my sons grow and am reminded of why I said yes to the man I married.

I have loved being able to be more present with my boys. We have had to work out how to share housekeeping, parenting effectively, work schedules and give each other some space too which looks different for each of us.

Financially it’s bought added stress as I have lost income and my guy’s income has been adjusted BUT we are still so comfortable compared to so many of my friends and people we know. Some of our life hasn’t been that different as due to my guy’s business slowly folding over 18 months much of our life has been restricted anyway due to severe financial constraints – in a weird way that has been good prep for where we are now.

Q2: What has helped us stay connected?

Within our home:

Daily pre-lockdown rituals – Friday night Pizza/ Movie night, Dance parties, Storytimes, and playtimes where we are all together. Dinner times have always been a time of sharing the day.

We have also spoken about what we are angry with the virus about and played the “Imagine If” game – Imagine if we were on the mountain, or at the beach.

As adults, my husband and I aim to have time where we check in with each other rework concerns or challenges as well as talk about things outside of COVID, children, or work.

Outside my home:

Keep in touch with what friends and others are doing in response to social needs – the sense of purpose of being part of something MUCH bigger is part of helping sustain me. Video Calls, regular chats, and check-ins with friends have all helped.

Alexa family

Q3: What worries (fears/ anxieties I think was the adult language) you the most?

I feared that someone I love might fall ill and I can’t be there to care for them, with them. It has happened and it’s been horrible.

I worry that I might be the vector of transmission from the suburbs into Heideveld – despite all the protocols in place. (Arise Family Centre – where Alexa works – staff are heading in to deal with crisis and emergency cases as well as the next round of food and hygiene packs distribution), recognizing that even without medical aid, my access to health care is still significantly smoother and easier than some of my friends and the families we journey with.

As a mom with asthma to a child with asthma, I am mindful that we need to keep our lungs healthy too, while we still hear the good, the bad, and the ugly of this virus.

Outside of my home, I worry about children and teens who had just returned to school, where we had to work to get them back into school & ensure that support was in place for family systems to support these children and youth. I think about what this means for children who can’t socially distance, who will fall through cracks and where schools are already straining under psychosocial and economic challenges.

Outside of my home I worry about the increased risk that children and families have been under while no home visits from social workers have been happening and reporting has been challenging – we know that shutdown sees an increase in child and family violence, so navigating this as we continue to deal with lockdown levels and public health issues is on my mind often.

Outside of my home, I wonder what is happening to the many chronic patients – whether medical or mental health care – that need support.

It made me anxious and angry that privileged issues are crowdfunded for – so much so I have uninstalled social media off of my phone to manage this for myself.

I don’t like that conspiracy theories feed into the grief cycle– the anger and fear of all the uncertainty that we currently live with and what this means for adherence and compliance to protect everyone. A 1% mortality rate in a country the size of South Africa is a HUGE loss of life – regardless of how people believe it needs to be managed.

Q4: What have you liked?

I have loved seen South African’s rally to support people doing front line work in terms of meeting basic needs. Have loved seeing bridges built between better resourced financially communities and economically poorer communities.

I hold onto hope that some of those relationships are the start of long -term shifts in understanding and empathy. Practical empathy that leads to being involved in listening and learning from each other – but more really learning from the people we think are the recipients only as opposed to seeing each other as offering different resources and learning in this all.

Alexa in Lockdown

Any words from Alexa to South Africans right now?

This is going to be a marathon not a sprint for the next 18 months – we need to figure out what we need to do to adapt and be flexible as individuals, families and communities to accommodate this else we will hurt ourselves and each other.

The actual running Comrades Marathon was cancelled – but we get to do this one together if we choose to, cheering each other on, walking the hills and helping encourage one another – it’s what’s kept me going so far!

Thanks Alexa for your vulnerability and openness. especially about how this has been and will continue to affect some of the more marginalised communities around us.

[We have now gathered a whole lot of stories of people living during lockdown and if you want to catch up on some of the others, click here.]