The first few weeks
The first few days of isolating with my triplets were OK. It hadn’t sunk in that it would last a long time. With no plans to break up the day, the prospect of no visits/help from friends and family, I avoided thinking about how difficult it would be with the kids, 24/7, on my own.
I’m mum to four-year-old triplets and my two girls suffer with recurrent chest infections and respiratory issues. They struggled since they were one and are treated as suspected asthmatic. After a friend told me that her little boy had to isolate for 12 weeks due to respiratory issues, I contacted my doctor, as I wondered if this would apply to us. He wrote to me advising that the quads should be treated as vulnerable and shielded for 12 weeks, as per government advice. We are yet to receive a letter from the government or NHS confirming if they are vulnerable and isolated since on March 17th.
After the first week and the announcement that we were officially in lockdown, I found things very difficult. Given how full-on the first few days with the kids had been, I was really anxious about what was ahead. The idea of actually not being allowed out by law was suffocating and made me panic. The triplets were adjusting to the change with more tears and tantrums than usual. They were also more demanding and I was already really very tired. The kids’ sleep is always fairly interrupted as both girls have hyper-mobility and frequently suffer with pain at night.
Just before lockdown I received some bad news that I was still struggling to come to terms with. Everything began to overwhelm me. At the end of that first week I had a panic attack and was ill, with impacted sleep. I shed lots of tears in the following days, although never in front of the kids as I try to keep everything positive for them. It was apparent from the news that the lockdown would continue for a while. I couldn’t carry on as I was and needrd to do something to help myself.
Asking for help
I’m lucky to have great support from friends and family. Talking with them and breaking down what I am feeling anxious about has helped to put things into perspective. Things are less overwhelming. My mum suggested that I use an app called ‘Calm’. It’s great and I now listen to it every night. I highly recommend it or something similar.
After three weeks into isolation with the triplets, I felt a lot better. I was used to a new routine and my expectations for each day were more realistic. By the third week, the children’s dad (we separated the triplets were 2) stopped working and was able to isolate. He now has them at weekends, which gives me a much needed break.
I also self-referred to Talking Therapies and, while it took a couple of weeks to get a phone appointment, I’m so glad I did. They are great and the exercises continue to help me.
Home schooling and the effect on the kids
The triplets are in reception class, their birthday is in August and they were, of course, born prematurely. This means that they need quite a bit of extra support at school. This doesn’t worry me too much as they are happy and the school has been great. However, they’ve now missed most of the summer term and I’m concerned about how difficult starting Year 1 will be.
For the first two weeks I was working from home. It was impossible to work and look after the kids at the same time, let alone complete any school work. Then in April I was furloughed and this made things a bit easier. However, the kids aren’t interested in doing any school work and their motivation (and mine) is dwindling with time.
During the first week of furlough I had high hopes of being able to help them with their school work. However, after a few days I accepted that my expectations regarding the amount of learning they would do, needed lowering. Now we try to do just one thing a day from the set reading/writing/maths work. Then we try to do one of the set fun things, like creating an assault course for their teddies. If we achieve this and do a bit of exercise, I’m happy. Although there are days when we don’t even manage that much. However, the more I accept that they won’t behave the same way at home as they do at school, the easier it is for me.
Isolation and a change in routine
Isolation has dramatically changed the triplets’ daily routine and affects each of them in different ways. My boy seems the happiest he has ever been. He regularly says that he wants to stay like this forever. He doesn’t want go to back to school and is happy being at home, playing with his toys and not going out. One of the girls is pretty happy too but misses her friends and teachers at school a bit. The other is having a difficult time emotionally, she is really clingy with me and isn’t quite herself. Both girls have had nightmares about us getting the virus, so it must be playing on their minds. I know they’re really missing their grandparents too, as we’re all really close. My mum usually stays with us once a week and helps with the school run.
Overall, the kids are really happy and love my permanent presence at home, especially as I’m not distracted by work and the usual life admin. In some ways it’s lovely having all this time with them, without the other pressures, but in others it’s hard. The constant mess, snacks/meals, demands for help and fights can make the days difficult to enjoy. Some days are better than others, which I’m sure they are for everyone. Luckily, there’s always an endless amount of cuddles and love from the kids to pick me up on the tricker days.
Limited food shopping
Initially, like many others, I found buying food difficult. I can’t go to the shops and for a long time, getting a delivery slot was impossible. I was asking friends to get things for me and this worked for the first week or so. Then as restrictions on the number of items you could buy came in, it became much more difficult. I’ve managed to get by, by adding bits and pieces to different friends’/family members’ shops and thankfully I secured the odd delivery slot.
Being at home all the time means that we’re flying through food. The weekly food shop costs almost double what it usually does and at one point the lack of pasta had me in a bit of a panic. My kids eat a lot of pasta, it’s one of the few meals that at least two of them will eat. Fortunately, it’s become a bit easier to get a delivery in the last week an there’s more pasta about! I’ve also recently had a flyer through the door from the COVID-19 community support team of volunteers who do food shops, dog walks and collect prescriptions for those isolating. This is great to have as a backup.
More announcements around easing lockdown are due in the coming days but I’m still uncertain about what the rest of the year holds. I’ve a million thoughts about school, work, childcare in the summer holidays, money and when we’ll be able to see family without putting them, or the kids, at risk.
This is just my experience of isolating with triplets so far and I’m aware there are many people in far worse situations than me. I hope that that those reading this are doing OK but if not, then please talk to someone. The right help is around even if you have to search a little to find it. Contact a friend, family or your GP if needed, but please don’t struggle on alone.
If you need ideas to entertain your multiples during lockdown, then check out our guide to isolating with multiples here. It’s packed full of activities and tips for entertaining and developing your little ones at home.