'Having Covid taught all of us that life can be short'

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Clare and her family
Clare and her family

Clare, her husband and their two children, aged 15 and 11, tell me that they are very social.

"We spent weekends...doing school sports, gaming and braai with friends, and [having] lots of family time," Clare says, adding that the kids had very busy social lives.

But life changed after the Covid-19 lockdown.

"We missed seeing friends but at the same, it gave us some amazing quality family time and it did bring us closer as a family," she admits.  

Clare says she thinks it was a good change, to some degree. Since she and her husband have jobs that are people focused, it gave them time to stop and rest and be with their children.  

This is one article in a series on the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on ordinary South African families. Find the full series here: Behind the Mask

ALSO SEE | 'Covid made me scared of my own child': How the virus affected these families

Losing their sense of belonging 

However, the ongoing isolation made them a little more introverted.

Stacey Fru of the The Stacey Fru Foundation tells us that like many others, teenagers are losing their sense of belonging to schools as they increasingly study at home, some permanently due to the situation.

She adds that most teenagers become unhappy, lonely and seek attention when they are not with their friends, or when they are out of school and recreational environments.  

Clare says she encouraged them to make contact with friends, which they did at the beginning but soon they started to loose contact.

"The main thing is the calls to friends have become less, as they would much rather see friends face to face than chat on the phone," she adds. 

Educational psychologist Jamie Brassell tells us that many parents have considered bypassing some restrictions to offer their children some relief. But there is concern about the consequences.

"Organising a birthday party for your child and allowing them to invite a group of friends would prevent them from experiencing yet another loss, however a gathering like this would also increase the risk of the virus spreading," she warns. 

Brassell adds that many parents have admitted feeling guilty for not allowing birthday gatherings, play dates or sleepovers because they feel they are depriving their children of a normal childhood.  

'Life can be short' 

Clare's family is less busy now than they were before and they really appreciate their family time, but balance it with seeing friends. "The kids both say they loved having time with us," she says, adding that lockdown has taught them about priorities. 

This has become especially important as the entire family contracted Covid-19.

"I think the lockdown and having Covid have taught all of us that life can be short and we want to make the most of every day," Clare tells me.

"So we have changed our priorities and really look, as a family, to what is important. This includes making more time and doing what is important for us as family, and what is important for us in life," she says. 

Read the full series here: Behind the Mask


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