Living with an essential worker | Personal story | Jigsaw Online

Living with an essential worker

photo of emily, the girl who tells this storyJigsaw volunteer Emily, 18, from Donegal tells her story:

As a daughter of an essential worker, I’ve come to recognise that downtime is non-existent these days for some workers. Dinner time is rarely a shared occasion. As I write this, she’s on her second phone call of the day, on her day off. This is the new normal for myself, and a lot of other young people living with an essential worker during this pandemic.

Added stress

For many young adults in Ireland, over the past few months there has been additional stress alongside the fact that we’re living through a global pandemic. For some, almost overnight, they have gained a new responsibility, not only for themselves but for siblings and other family members too. In many cases, their parents have been occupied with helping to fight the ongoing crisis.

For myself, in addition to trying to keep on top of college work, I have been looking after my five younger siblings. This includes doing the washing, tidying up the house and making sure they are all fed and watered, as well as checking in to make sure they are OK with their schoolwork. This has been stressful and frustrating at times, but overall very rewarding to know that the pressure is taken off my mammy somewhat when she gets home from work in the evenings.

There is no point in me pretending that I keep it cool, calm and collected all the time. I have had some tough days in quarantine.

I have found a few different ways of working in order to help myself and the others in my house as much as possible. My hope is that by sharing them, I can help other young people in the same situation as myself. They include:

Planning

Even if it’s just a basic list of things I need to do the next day, writing a list always helps me stay motivated and keep going throughout the day to get as much done as I can.

Communicating

Talking to my parents in the evenings about things that are bothering me or that arose during the day while they were away has been useful. In that way, they help me work to fix these problems as best they can which benefits me going forward trying to balance all the things I have to do.

Staying positive 

There is no point in me pretending that I keep it cool, calm and collected all the time. I have had some tough days in quarantine, as I would imagine the majority of people have. However, I try to stay as positive as possible by focusing on the good things that have been going on for me, and thinking of the things I can look forward to when this is all over.

The importance of self-care 

One very important thing that has helped me cope with having to step into this role is to remember to take some time for myself, even if it’s just listening to music, baking, reading a book or FaceTiming friends in the evenings. These are things that make me feel happy and relaxed, which is key to keeping a level head when things seem a little chaotic.

This pandemic has put things into perspective for a lot of people, myself included. It has made me recognise the sacrifices that people like my mammy make every day to ensure the safety of others more vulnerable than ourselves. It has also made me more grateful for what I have around me, and this is what I try to focus on during the days where I wish more than anything that things were a little bit better.