Covid Pandemic Through The Eyes of a Single Mother

We've caught up with a single mother that got to know first hand on what impacts the covid-19 pandemic had. She gave us insights on how she dealt with separation from her daughter, travel during lockdown and hotel quarantine. Check out her story where she describes the Covid Pandemic Through The Eyes of a Single Mother.

Covid-19. Who's over it? Anyone? Just us? Surely not.... It's the end of 2021 and the Covid-19 Pandemic has been present for almost two years now. Slowly it looks like everything is starting to come under control and new infections are declining with the increase of vaccination rates. During this time of uncertainty, there was a lot of pressure to take in and the emotional impact of Covid took a toll on all of us in many varying ways. Isolation in particular had a HUGE impact on people, as quarantine became a necessity for any form of travel for most people around the world. We had a chance to catch up with Sarah, a single mom that shared with us how Covid, lockdowns and quarantine had a devastating effect on her little family. Check out her story below where she describes the Covid Pandemic Through The Eyes of a Single Mother.

"It’s January 2020, and Australia hears about our first positive Covid 19 case in the country, we don’t worry, nor freak out, we take it with a pinch of salt, as something that will come and go with no real impact on our lives, or on our families. It will surely blow over and quite frankly be forgotten about soon, right? Not once at this time did we ever think or dream that this was going to be the start of a worldwide pandemic.

Let me introduce myself, my name is Sarah, I am a 30 year old single parent to my beautiful daughter Kirra, she's 4, and she is honestly my best friend. As I write this blog we are currently trapped in hotel quarantine, because the truth of the matter is Covid 19 did not blow over, and it has had a real impact on our lives and on our families.

Let’s go back to the beginning of this journey. As 2020 progressed we started to hear about how Covid 19 was impacting the world, how countries where going into lockdowns as they tried to contain the virus from spreading and if I am quite honest, I switched off my news channels, if you can’t see it or don’t hear about it then perhaps it isn’t really happening, maybe it’ll just go away… naive of me, in denial one could say, because to be truthful I didn't want my life as a working mother to be impacted or changed, things were going quite well for us. I had my full-time job, we had our routine with child care and my beautiful daughter was growing as a tiny human, progressing through the stages of early childhood making me proud every single day. In these important early stages of development for her, childcare was one of the most amazing places for her to be. Not to mention, being from the UK I have no immediate family here for a support network, so being able to give this to my child, whilst allowing me to work full time, kindergarten is really important to us.

2 months pass by, Covid was still lingering, more cases, more restrictions, but personally my life had not changed too much so far, I was still earning an income for me and my daughter, although companies and real estates had begun to reduce rent payments and offer holds on bills, making me curious as to why this support was coming, did they know something we did not? There were more cases around, but at this stage it still seemed like it was under control, I felt that the government had our best interests at heart. I know I am one of the lucky ones and my heart was definitely going out to the families and businesses who were beginning to feel the impact this pandemic was starting to have.

The panic buying began, I too was guilty of bulk buying dry foods, pantry stock and loading up on the historical toilet paper purge. We find that in QLD we can still work rather freely, we could go for a walk and do some outdoor exercise, if anything it gave me a new found love for the beautiful country I now call home and I found myself and my daughter walking more than ever, she still attended childcare, I still worked, life was actually fresh and free. And then almost overnight the borders started to close, hospitality and tourism began to take a loss, my workload slowed down, until eventually I had lost my job due to the spread of the pandemic. Working from home was just not an option, because we have no tourism to fill the holiday rental properties, being paid any sort of income was not possible and suddenly it dawned on me that the exact denial I had those couple of months ago was in fact very real.

As it was and is for many single mothers, single fathers, families and companies the reality of what is now a world of Covid 19 began to impact us financially, mentally and in some cases physically with lockdowns, restrictions, loss of jobs and income and the unknown of what our futures held. I personally think Australia has dealt with this pandemic pretty well so far, after not too many months off work, things began to come back to normal, the normal we knew for the foremost of our lives. Especially here in QLD work picked up, hospitality reopened their doors and restrictions eased. Sure, we had moments where snap lockdowns happened and some restrictions and the use of masks remained, but for the most part, life seemed to get back on track, it was slow, but it was in the right direction.

Fast forward to June 2021 we were now roughly into over 18 months of this crazy world we now call life, snap lockdowns, restrictions, mandatory mask wearing, border closures leaving families and loved ones locked out from seeing one another, yet we have to understand that with every decision the government makes, it is in our best interest and keeping us safe. Sometimes these restrictions can feel a little harsh and it makes you think that they are too drastic but then again Australia is still one of the countries that has had the least impact from covid compared to Europe or the United States…

So, why do I find myself currently in hotel quarantine, I’ll explain a little more about my circumstances. My daughter’s dad moved to Sydney in April, he and his now girlfriend left for what they said was a better life for them with work. I am always in support of people doing the best thing for their circumstances, especially in this current world we live in, but did I feel this decision had my daughters best interests at heart? I was not so sure but anyway I thought it would be a good idea if she maintained visits with him. It is important for my little one to see her father, regardless of the stress and apprehension it serves me, I know it is the right thing for her. And so with this she took a couple of trips to Sydney, she went for two weeks, came home settled back into her routine here with school and leisure and everything seemed ideal. I sent some remote learning activities so she could still keep her education where it needed to be and she came back refreshed, rejuvenated and happy.

So far things seemed to be great, she was seeing dad, coming home happy and I was back in a stable enough job earning what we needed to pay the bills and eat well enough. Still catching up from last years time off work with the pandemic, but we were comfortable. She headed back down to Sydney on her most recent trip and two days before she is due to land back on QLD soil, BOOM Sydney goes into a 7 day snap lockdown. To say that my heart shattered into a thousand pieces still wouldn't accurately express the way I felt. I had already not seen my angel girl for almost 2 weeks, and another 7 days seemed almost impossible. Flying to Sydney to get her wasn't possible, with work and finances it was not feasible, her father pays for her trips to see him, this was the agreement we made when he chose to move interstate. This new situation changed everything for them and for me and my daughter, lockdowns mean restrictions and restrictions make things harder to do.

We agree that a week isn’t all that long and so we sit it out, we wait and just as things are about to lift, BOOM the lockdown is extended, and once again my heart is destroyed. This time I get a facetime call from my daughter, who is beyond despair, full of tears and angst, all she wanted to do is see her mummy. The sadness in her voice makes this even more unbearable, what could I do? How could I get my child? As I worked extra hours to get the funds to fly down and work out my options, the lockdown gets tighter, the restrictions get added to, and then just as I was about to book my flight, QLD closed its border to NSW. I am destroyed, my only option now was to organise border passes, pray that we get approved as QLD residents, but this comes at a price. The only entry back into QLD is to hotel quarantine. To be honest this is a huge cost, but it is something I was more than willing to do if it meant getting my daughter home. 

4 weeks had passed since I saw her and there was no holding back anymore, I applied for my border pass. It comes back approved, I am a returning resident, but my daughters border pass was declined, how? Why? I applied again and again it declined! Calling the government didn’t help, they couldn't assist, all I could do was keep applying. To say that my mental health was taking a beating is an understatement, I had anxiety, I shed tears every single hour, because all I wanted was to be reunited with my best friend. I feel the pain that many families have felt through this pandemic all too well, the denial I had when this all began 18 months ago is now running into my life. It is very much real, I couldn't ignore it or switch off the news channel like I did last year. I had to face it front on.

After 7 days of applying for passes, calling the government, breaking down, and losing my job again because the border closure means holiday cancellations, I finally got her pass approved. Overwhelmed with emotions, happiness, joy, excitement, I booked the flights but now we had another dilemma. The flights were $200 per person each way, I calculated them at half this price, but that’s ok, having my daughter home with me was the most important goal at that moment.

The trip didn’t go smoothly, there was no flight on the same day from either Brisbane or the Gold Coast with a flight that came back from Sydney. This meant I had to spend a night in the airport hotel but I didn’t care, at this point holding my daughter's hand and feeling her warm hug meant more to me than having a little extra in the bank. At 6 pm on Sunday 1st August 2021 I walked outside the hotel, mandatory mask on, and cried with the biggest feeling of eternal happiness. There she was, my beautiful human was waiting for me with the biggest smile on her face, nothing will ever fill me with as much joy as that moment. We had a sleepover in the hotel, got takeout, shared laughter and lots and lots of kisses and cuddles. We woke up the following morning and headed to the airport. Check in was smooth, security was smooth and seamless, the airport was eerie, and it was quiet… We boarded the flight and sat hand in hand flying home, so close to ‘normalcy' it almost felt unreal.

Getting off the flight we showed the border pass QR code to security and they guided us into a line of people. Over an hour and 20 minutes later we got to the front. May I add my 4 year old child was being the most patient person in the line as people coming home were eager to see loved ones, but stressed at the slow process. We all understand it is important for everyone to stay safe, especially during travel.

We got to the front of the line, I presented my pass and we were told to join the hotel quarantine section, which is full….. and my daughter needed the bathroom. Followed by police, we were not allowed to lock the bathroom door and told to leave our belongings with the officer. It is clear that the restrictions are taken very seriously, especially for the hotel quarantine arrivals. Unfortunately the air conditioning wasn’t working and everyone was using a paper to fan themselves. The process was quite strenuous for my baby girl (and myself) but I knew we had to stay strong.

Keeping in mind that quarantining would ensure we stayed physically healthy and everyone else as well helped in that long line. The part that suffers a bit is your mental health. All the stress is very hard and not easy to process on the fly. We collected our suitcase and were instructed to stand in groups which were dedicated to each hotel. Hotels are selected at random, which means you need to have belongings you might need delivered to your room a bit after you arrive. But no problem, you have to stay positive, right? I decided early on to treat it like a little holiday for us, 2 weeks with my bestie to make up for lost time. Both of us sat anxiously on the coach. To stay compliant with security measures, we can’t get out of the bus to stretch our legs and this is frustrating in the long wait for everyone to be processed and on the bus. Quarantine starts as soon as you step out of the plane, meaning you have to stay indoors and contained at all times. The bus eventually started and we arrived at our hotel after some waiting. The procedures were very strict and the staff left nothing to chance. Everyone was sprayed with antibacterial spray to make sure that we didn't carry any bacteria or virus on our clothes. Wearing fresh masks, we were escorted in, one at a time. Inside the hotel we got our room number and were brought to our room. You could say it was an ‘all-inclusive’ service, hahah…

As soon as I walked into the room, I simply broke down. It was a bit small and unfortunately we have nothing except a mini bar fridge and mini kettle. The windows don’t open but we knew that beforehand. It would be amazing to breathe a bit of fresh air but it’s okay, we manage to accommodate to the situation. I’m wondering how my daughter (and myself) will not get bored to death here during the next 2 weeks. As the despair seeps in, she stands there and says “don’t be sad mummy, be happy, it’s a holiday”. I pick myself up and hug my daughter as hard as I can. She is really the peace that keeps me sane in this crazy situation we find ourselves in. 

I just want to send out all the love possible to the working mothers and fathers. To all the single mums out there; you are not alone in this crazy world we now call pandemic life, with love and hugs Sarah and Kirra."