It’s okay to feel ripped off by COVID

When this all began in 2020, I was 28 years old. I had a 4 year old daughter who was a handful but a happy handful. I had a partner who had been living with us for nearly 12 months and we were pretty happy. We’d booked a holiday for my daughters 5th birthday which was in March and we were really excited about it! Not only was it going to be my daughters first holiday but it was also my own first real holiday and I’d managed to scrape up the money all on my own without having to ask my family for a hand. Things were going well.

We never made it to Queensland, though. Our nationwide lockdown began on the 30th of a March, the same day as my daughters birthday and a day after we were supposed to fly out. We would have been stuck in another state for months… looking back now, that may not have been such a bad thing. That was the first of 6 hard lockdowns that Victorians faced throughout the following 18 months, with the days adding up to more than 260 as of December 2021. Restrictions in place meant that people were only allowed up to 2 hours outdoors a day and only essential services and supermarkets were open. Schools only ran remotely, meaning children have lost the best part of two years learning in a classroom and playgrounds were closed for a large portion of the lockdown period.

That was coming up to two years ago. Two years that feels like a very painful blink of an eye for most Melbournians, who are not only residents of the most locked down city in the country but the most locked down city in the world.

COVID has felt like a universally bad dream that we couldn’t wake up from. Our lives, relationships, jobs, homes… nothing was left untouched. The deaths, although extensive, were a small detail on the list of damages left behind by COVID restrictions, lockdowns and isolation periods. Hard workers lost their jobs, which meant some lost their homes, kids fell behind in school and people with once good mental health began experiencing anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. Adult children couldn’t say goodbye to loved ones in retirement homes, funerals were cut down to 10 mourners and weddings were put on hold for an uncertain amount of time. Nobody was safe from the impacts of COVID-19.

My experience centred around my home, my family and our mental health. I fell pregnant in May 2020 and gave birth the following February. And as if it wasn’t bad enough that I had lost my 6 year old daughters final year of kindergarten to COVID and lockdown but I watched my daughter slowly becoming a different person… her spark was starting to dim and she was struggling with her own mental health. I was helpless in watching it happen… It was Melbourne’s 6th lockdown that was the icing on the cake. My daughter most likely had undiagnosed ADHD before COVID but the uncertainty of the last two years really intensified her behaviour to the point where we are currently seeking medical intervention after the informal diagnosis of ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder). I am left sitting here wondering whether this was our path all along or whether COVID put us here…

It’s okay to feel ripped off by COVID. I do! I was supposed to be enjoying my children and showing them the world before they grow up. I wasn’t supposed to be a grumpy, tired, stressed, anxious mess of a mother. That’s what I have become, though… I feel like as each day goes on I am losing another day of freedom with my daughter, another day of enjoying her childhood, another day of my life. I am doubled vaxxed as is my family and when they can, my children will be too. But that doesn’t replace the time we’ve lost being stuck between these walls. It won’t give my daughter those two years of crucial early childhood development. It won’t make the world feel normal again… because like with everything, once you move forward… you very rarely go back.

Sensory Activities for Energetic Kids

Christmas is so exciting and that’s double true if you have young children. The magic that is Santa Claus, Family and decorating the Christmas Tree will always be a memorable time of the year that your kids will remember for the rest of their lives. But how often have you spent hours racking your brain to come up with a unique present that won’t get pushed to the back of the cupboard by the time Easter comes? I know I have spent countless nights writing lists and scrolling pages trying to find a gift for my eldest daughter, who has little patience for slow toys. My daughter is almost 7 and she has a lot of energy. She also is a very sensory-driven kid so that means lots of mess, lots of mixing and mashing and lots of outdoor activities! I find it extremely hard to keep her entertained for longer than 5 minutes without taking her out to a playground or to a friends house.

During my hunt for the perfect Christmas gift, I came across a few ideas that are a little too late for Christmas gifts this year but nonetheless, I will share with you all for future reference!

1. Home Jungle Gym

This is what I decided on for my little energiser bunny! Practical, multifunctional and something I don’t think she would have dreamed of in a million years. The downside is you will need the space to safely set it up. But the upside is a jungle gym is something that will get used not just for one year – but they will get fun out of this right up until they hit high school.

Junior Jungle Monsoon
Indoor Wooden Play Gym

2. Sandpit

You can’t go wrong with a sandpit! It is a sensory wonderland: sand, water, mixing, making… and you can find some great sandpits with covers, storage space and water tubs for a great price if you look around. Not just hours but years of fun will be had with a sandpit!

Playfort Sandpit With Canopy
Lifespan Kids Strongbox Sandpit

3. Backyard Obstacle Course

A backyard obstacle course could be the answer to your prayers if you have a child with high energy and you are looking for something that will help them burn some of that energy up. You might struggle to find a full set up but it’s such an easy thing to put together yourself, made up of single activities that you can buy on their own from somewhere like Kmart or Decathlon.

Kmart Balance Beams
Bunnings Kids Tent & Tunnel

4. Boxes and Boxes and Boxes

Everyone loves a good ol’ box fort – especially kids! And who wouldn’t love to wake up on Christmas morning and see a mound of boxes waiting for them? I know my kids would! This is a cheap, out-of-the-box (no pun intended) way to keep your little ones preoccupied for a while. In my house, a box obsession lasts longer than a toy obsession!

Officeworks Boxes
How To Build A Box Fort

5. Teepees with Sticks

Depending on the age, capabilities and interests of your children, large/long sticks (or even small branches) are a great way to keep young ones entertained outdoors as well as keeping their mind active. Box forts? Why not stick forts or teepees? This is a great activity for kids who like to get outside and play in nature. *Adult supervision advised.*

How To Build A Stick Teepee

6. Mud Kitchen

Oh, how I wish I knew about these 5 years ago! Mini wooden kitchens with built in sinks for mud and water… it’s like the perfect sensory story. My daughter would have absolutely lived and breathed this when she was younger – she still would. (If only I could find one big enough for her!) The best part is, you can hook the mud kitchen up to your tap so the children get to work on their life skills by turning the taps on and off as well as getting messy!

Lifespan Mud Kitchen
Fruugo Outdoor Mud Kitchen

If you have any other sensory activity ideas to keep the kids entertained for more than a minute, let us know in the comments!