parent opinion

'My 10-year-old had COVID twice in three months. Here's how the new close contact rules impacted us.'

It was a couple of nights before the start of term two and our family sat together at the dinner table, chatting excitedly about all the things we had to look forward to this term and how different it would be from the previous one.

"I’m looking forward to wearing mermaid braids to school and doing after-school surfing," my eldest, aged 10, said.

"I’m looking forward to seeing all my new friends and my teacher. I love my teacher," said my youngest, aged eight.

My husband and I agreed that we were both looking forward to getting back some 'normality' in our working routines without the disruptions of COVID isolations and school closures due to flooding (we relocated to the Northern Rivers of New South Wales in late January).

Watch: Clinical and Health Psychologist Amanda Gordon talks about how you can help your children if they're suffering with anxiety during the age of COVID-199. Post continues after video.


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We woke with an excited buzz on the first day back, primed and pumped to get into term two. The only slight blip (which I initially dismissed) was that my 10-year-old was complaining of a sore throat.

"Have a Vicks VapoDrop," I told her. We busied ourselves packing lunch boxes, brushing hair, feeding the rabbits, and keeping a close eye on the time so we weren’t late. I could almost taste the lick of freedom and space in my day.

Then it hit me.

The hay fever symptoms she’d had the day before. The runny nose and sniffling. The unfinished dinner from the night before. The going to bed without coming out 20 times. "I better test you," I said, still not thinking it would be positive. We had only just had COVID in January and had been told by our doctor the kids should be right for at least six months.

Pulling out the RAT test box, we went through the motions and watched the three drops of snot-infused fluid absorb its way through the testing cassette.

One line.

"All good Mum!" my daughter said. She went to brush her teeth as my youngest packed herself into the car. I popped back into the kitchen to grab my bag and happened to glance down at the COVID test again.

Two lines. F*ck.

Selfishly my first thought was, "I’m not going to get to bring that steaming hot coffee to my lips in peace and solitude at 9.30am like I’ve been dreaming about for the past two and a half weeks."

After hauling my youngest back out of the car, we repeated the test on my eldest and my youngest. It was conclusive - our 10-year-old had COVID for the second time in three months. 

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The first time was at the start of January where our traditional New Year’s resolutions were swiftly sidelined and replaced by a 'COVID Cave' lasting 17 days due to the delayed 'tag team' nature of the virus moving through a family. 

However, this time around, the changing of the close contact rules in New South Wales offered up a ray of hope for the seven days ahead.

Here's how the new close contact rules impacted us:

1. My youngest could go to school.

The first benefit was that my youngest could still attend school, even if my eldest couldn’t. This was priceless, since they had already been at each other with their sibling infighting since the start of the school holidays and desperately needed a break from each other. 

The school office told us that as long she remained negative, she could continue to go. We held our breath each time we tested her, but it was worth the anxiety.

2. We could get our own groceries.

In our January isolation, we relied on everything being delivered to our doorstep - including urgent grocery items. The turnaround at that time on a Woolworths or Coles online order was sometimes up to five days. 

Although we had plenty of friends dropping supplies at our doorstep, if we realised at 7pm that we had no milk or bread for the next morning, we often felt too guilty to ask a neighbour to run down to the shops to get some for us. 

But this time around, under the current close contact rules, myself or my husband (both negative) could easily grab grocery supplies as and when needed.

Listen to This Glorious Mess where Holly answers what it felt like to be COVID positive and how she juggled family and work while being sick. Post continues after podcast.


3. I could go out for a walk on my own (despite feeling guilty about it).

For the first couple of days, my 10-year-old was pretty unwell. She had a sore throat and high temperatures and she was super tired and miserable about not being able to return to school. 

Since she had COVID, she couldn’t go out herself, but as long as I was negative, I could get out for a break. This was a huge benefit, particularly since her infection period fell back-to-back against the school holidays. My two solo walks along the beach during this time were vital to my sanity and gave me a break from entertaining her as she became better.

4. Self-isolation didn’t feel so 'isolating' this time.

By the time my daughter's seven day isolation period was up, she was well and truly ready to get out, having not left the house. The rest of us were counting our lucky stars but in a much better position to support her than if we had all been isolating (and unsick) with her. 

Whilst we’ve had a bump-in-the-road start to term two, we are still hopeful that it will be far less disruptive than the last.

Tehla Bower is a writer, yoga teacher and mother of two from Far North NSW. She is most at home when surrounded by her family and a mountain of books, soaking up the sun or meditating on her favourite rock at the beach. Follow Tehla on Instagram or Facebook or connect with her via  www.tehla-jane.com.

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