Bridget fam modified
The first COVID-19 positive test in Bridget Madar’s whare wasn’t a surprise, but it wasn’t welcome, either.
“We knew it was coming, we’re a young family who are out playing sports, but we still felt overwhelmed when the result came in. I’m the one that snowballs thoughts and my husband’s the one that pulls me back to earth. I had to keep reminding myself not to let those thoughts escalate.”

The result came after a notification that cases had been confirmed at their seven-year-old’s school.

“Testing positive was really scary for our son,” says Bridget, who works as a senior project manager. “As a seven-year-old all he’s heard for the last two years is ‘the virus!’ ‘COVID!’, ‘we’re not allowed to leave the house cause of the virus killing people!’"

We had a big talk with him just about how things have changed, and we can’t see the virus, but a lot of people are gonna catch it. We reminded him that most people will be okay and that he’s healthy.”

It also helped that he got to pick dinner when he was the first to test positive. “It actually really turned things around. He was stoked he got to pick.”

Their seven-year-old, the oldest of their four children, improved quickly after some rest. Bridget’s husband, however, was hit pretty hard. “He was bed-ridden for about two to three days with fevers and aches. He found the stress of work hard. He’s a teacher, so he’s got students relying on him and felt like he was letting them down.”

Her husband being out of commission proved hard for Bridget, too. “It was really hard because my younger two were still very much full of life and energy.”
Symptoms varied for each member of the household. “My youngest vomited and had fever, my three-year-old had a cough briefly but other than that he was basically a-symptomatic. Never lost his appetite or energy. It was quite amazing how different it was for them all.”
“I imagined the worst. I imagined the kids getting really sick,” Bridget says. “I was just really worried about how we handle having to continue to parent. Our kids are still very reliant on us, especially our one-year-old. I was worried about my husband and I getting really sick and not being able to get help from outside the house. Luckily, we both weren’t really sick at the same time.”

Bridget was able to take time off from mahi, and this proved invaluable for her mental health. “The biggest relief for me was just being able to care for my family and not have to think about work at all.”

It was a challenging time. “I found it quite overwhelming at home, with the mess, and constant kids eating, and lack of routine.”

However, Bridget says found there were still things she could do to look after her mental health.
“A socially distanced walk, early in the morning when no one else was around, that was really big for my mental health. Being at home all the time with the kids, those walks were just a little bit of time I had to myself. I got to clear my head.”
Help also came from reaching out. “I made it a goal that every day I would reach out to one person.” Reaching out in this way also meant Bridget could check in on others too, something incredibly important to her, “because I wasn’t the only one going through it. Day by day I was hearing about different friends that were isolating, kids from school and their parents.”

Bridget is aware that reaching out can be difficult. “I’m not very good at accepting help. I really had to take people up on their offers.”

This was a big change from how Bridget likes to operate. “Normally I’d just try and be polite. I’m just so used to us sorting things out on our own.

“But we had so many people offer their support. It was important for us to take that step and say ‘yes, we do need help. We need lots of snacks.’”
For other families living with COVID, Bridget says “taking the pressure off” is key.
“Let the cleaning and washing go. There were times my husband and I just cooked noodles for the kids, just because we were both exhausted. As long as the kids are happy and looked after, cover the basics. There is no time to worry about cooking a gourmet meal. Be really kind to yourself. It’s just not worth your energy.”
Bridget says patience for yourself will get you through it.

“For my mental health, I have to remind myself it’s family first. I’m trying to juggle all these balls and the one ball I don’t want to drop is the family one. You have to remember what each ball is made of, the family one is glass, and all the others like work, they are plastic. They’re important but they’re not the most important.”

“The upside for us was the extra family time. The moments where people were feeling well, it was nice. You have to make the most of it. ”