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BLOG: Working with Coronavirus - Vikki and Ashwyn's experience

Darllenwch hyn yn Gymraeg yma. Read this in Welsh here.

I have been a registered childminder for nearly 15 years in Swansea. I work alongside my husband Ashwyn who has been a registered childminder for 11 years. We currently care for children aged between 0-8 years and both work full-time.

This last 3 months has by far been the most challenging time in our childminding carers. Like many other self-employed childminders through the Coronavirus pandemic we have faced questions that we have been unable to answer whilst beginning to doubt whether we would ever be able to do the job we love again.  

Our childminding business has remained open throughout the pandemic for children of critical workers however we did not have any children in our care for ten weeks. Our playroom had remained silent, the toys unused. The 12 children we have on our books have either been unable to attend due to non-critical worker status or children of critical workers have been able to be safely cared for at home.

We have a 17-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter and as a family we have had precious time together.  Like many families we have however suffered substantial financial loss during this time which has caused a huge strain.

Keeping up to date

Throughout the pandemic we have remained up to date with current guidance. We are lucky to have such a supportive network of organisations, local authority and the support from other childminders.

We have been sent regular up to date information from PACEY through emails, Facebook posts, on their website and through telephone support. We are extremely grateful for the constant fight from the PACEY Cymru team for childminders around the country, working tirelessly ensuring our thoughts and concerns are heard.

We have also ensured we have read the updates from our local authority, Welsh Government, Public Health Wales and CIW.

We have remained in contact with the children in our care. We have enjoyed video calls, voice messages and pictures from the children. This has brought us great comfort and we are sure the children have enjoyed this too. We are extremely thankful to have such wonderful parents who have been understanding and supportive throughout this time.

Planning and preparation

Every week we wondered if any of the children would return, although still unsure of how our childminding setting would look with the new guidance regularly being updated. We finally had news that some of the children of critical workers would be returning.  Initially we were thrilled and excited, however, this soon turned to dread with waves of anxiety. Like many other childminders we wondered how it would work with the return of the children and soon thought ‘this is not going to work; we will have to change everything!’

We had so many questions:

  • Would the children have forgotten us?
  • Will we be able to ensure social distancing measures were in place with the children and ourselves?
  • Would we be able to minimise risk of infection in the areas where the children play in line with guidance to provide confidence to parents and ourselves?
  • Would the children find the changes challenging?

After risk assessing and discussions between us we came to the conclusion that although these were challenges they could be overcome.

We knew that expecting children as young as the children we care for to social distance was unrealistic and impossible.  We all know children like to touch, share and play with the same toys, so to expect them to now go against everything they have been taught could be upsetting and confusing for them and would have to be carefully managed.

We also worried about the risk that having other children in our homes would be to our own family. We sought the views of our own children before we made any decisions. They were thrilled that the children were coming back and they welcomed the thought of this.

Risk assessment

With all the information we had gathered we put a plan in place and risk assessment.  We looked at the changes we would have to make to our setting to meet regulatory requirements and Government guidance and protect the children, families and ourselves and our family.  This included reviewing our cleaning schedule, ensuring adequate stock of PPE and health and hygiene within the setting.

Some of the key changes we made were to reduce the types of toys and equipment that we would provide the children, we removed soft toys that harbour germs and included toys that were easy to clean.  We devised a pickup and drop off plan for the parents and the children to ensure social distancing rules were adhered to.  We also recognised the importance of outdoor play in the setting and looked to maximise this.

We devised a Covid-19 policy with the help of PACEY that has been sent to all parents and carers that use our setting, this policy outlines the changes we have made and highlights the importance of working cooperatively with families and ensuring an open and honest relationship. This was also to reassure parents that things would be changing for the protection of all involved.

PACEY have played a vital part in our confidence in having the children back at our setting. We were able to download posters to display with information regarding pick-ups and drop offs, symptoms and illness things to consider, and guidance on what to do if a child does have symptoms whist in our care or the protocol to follow if they have symptoms at home.

Meeting children’s individual needs

As well as keeping children safe, their mental health and emotional well-being is just as important. We would make sure we were available for the children to talk about their feelings and worries, continue with the structure and routine we had and provide comfort and reassurance to the children.

Keeping in contact with parents ensured that we were able to remain up to date with the children’s development and progress. Understanding how they had changed so we would be better able to adapt to their individual needs when they came back to our setting.  One little one was now potty trained and gained that level of independence, we had another little one whose language development had progressed so they were able to communicate more clearly, we even missed them saying our names for the first time but their parents recorded it and sent it to us.

The night before some of the children returned was a tough one. Routines and planning played on our minds, we questioned everything over and over and ran through scenarios in our minds and how we would handle them.

Finally, the day arrived, the children were due and we paced the floor waiting for the bell to ring. We could hear two children from one family chatting as they reached the gate, our stomach in knots. Ashwyn and I just looked at each other and smiled, the moment we saw the children we knew it was going to be ok.

The children approached us a little apprehensive at first, which was to be expected as it had been such a long time for them, we gave them a cuddle and said how much we had missed them. Everything seemed right.

The day was exhausting we played, danced, sang, laughed and cleaned! We kept in regular contact with the parents to reassure them that the children were ok. The children were happy and content and excited to come and play the next day.

After the children had left we cleaned the toys, equipment and environment that the children had access to, then slumped on the sofa exhausted but ready to do it all again the next day 

We are sure we will face other challenges as we progress through this difficult time, however, one thing is unquestionable, being childminders is by far the best job in the world.

Read other experiences and access support and further resources in the Reopening Toolkit.

Mae Vikki wedi bod yn warchodwr plant yn Abertawe ers bron i 15 mlynedd. Mae'n siarad am ei hagwedd tuag at Coronafeirws a'i chynlluniau a'i pharatoadau ynghylch ailagor ei gwasanaeth gofal plant . 

Rwyf wedi bod yn warchodwr plant cofrestredig yn Abertawe ers bron i 15 mlynedd. Rwy'n gweithio ochr yn ochr â fy ngŵr Ashwyn sydd wedi bod yn warchodwr plant cofrestredig ers 11 mlynedd. Ar hyn o bryd rydym yn gofalu am blant rhwng 0-8 oed ac yn gweithio'n llawn amser.

Y 3 mis diwethaf hwn fu'r amser mwyaf heriol o bell ffordd yn ein gyrfaoedd gwarchod plant. Fel llawer o warchodwyr plant hunangyflogedig eraill, trwy’r pandemig Coronafeirws rydyn ni wedi wynebu cwestiynau nad ydyn ni wedi gallu eu hateb ac wedi dechrau amau a fydden ni byth yn gallu gwneud y gwaith yr ydyn ni yn ei garu eto. 

Mae ein busnes gwarchod plant wedi aros ar agor trwy gydol y pandemig i blant gweithwyr critigol ond nid oedd gennyn ni unrhyw blant yn ein gofal am ddeng wythnos. Mae ein hystafell chwarae wedi bod yn dawel, a’r teganau heb eu defnyddio. Mae'r 12 plentyn sydd gennyn ni ar ein llyfrau naill ai wedi methu â mynychu oherwydd nad yw eu rhieni’n weithiwyr critigol neu mae plant gweithwyr critigol wedi gallu cael gofal diogel gartref.

Mae gennyn ni fab 17 oed a merch 11 oed ac fel teulu rydyn ni wedi cael amser gwerthfawr gyda'n gilydd.  Fodd bynnag, fel llawer o deuluoedd rydyn ni wedi dioddef colled ariannol sylweddol yn ystod yr amser hwn sydd wedi achosi straen enfawr.

Cadw'n gyfredol

Trwy gydol y pandemig rydyn ni wedi cael y wybodaeth ddiweddaraf am y canllawiau cyfredol. Rydyn ni’n ffodus bod gennym rwydwaith mor gefnogol o sefydliadau, awdurdod lleol cefnogol a'r gefnogaeth gan warchodwyr plant eraill.

Rydyn ni wedi cael gwybodaeth gyfoes reolaidd gan PACEY trwy e-byst, postiadau Facebook, ar eu gwefan a thrwy gymorth dros y ffôn. Rydyn ni’n hynod ddiolchgar am y frwydr gyson gan dîm PACEY Cymru dros warchodwyr plant ledled y wlad, gan weithio'n ddiflino i sicrhau bod ein meddyliau a'n pryderon yn cael eu clywed.

Rydyn ni hefyd wedi sicrhau ein bod wedi darllen y diweddariadau gan ein hawdurdod lleol, Llywodraeth Cymru, Iechyd Cyhoeddus Cymru ac AGC.

Rydyn ni wedi aros mewn cysylltiad â'r plant yn ein gofal. Rydyn ni wedi mwynhau galwadau fideo, negeseuon llais a lluniau gan y plant. Mae hyn wedi dod â chysur mawr i ni ac rydyn ni’n siŵr bod y plant wedi mwynhau hyn hefyd. Rydyn ni’n hynod ddiolchgar i gael rhieni mor wych sydd wedi bod yn ddeallus ac yn gefnogol trwy gydol yr amser hwn.

Cynllunio a pharatoi

Bob wythnos roedden ni’n meddwl tybed a fyddai unrhyw un o'r plant yn dychwelyd, er roedden ni dal yn ansicr sut y byddai ein lleoliad gwarchod plant yn edrych gyda'r canllawiau newydd yn cael eu diweddaru'n rheolaidd. Cawson ni newyddion o'r diwedd y byddai rhai o blant gweithwyr critigol yn dychwelyd.  I ddechrau, roedden ni wrth ein boddau ac yn gyffrous, fodd bynnag, buan y trodd hyn i ddychryn gyda thonnau o bryder. Fel llawer o warchodwyr plant eraill roedden ni’n poeni sut y byddai dychweliad y plant yn gweithio ac yn fuan roeddem yn meddwl ‘nid yw hyn yn mynd i weithio; bydd yn rhaid i ni newid popeth! ’

Roedd gennyn ni gymaint o gwestiynau:

  • A fyddai'r plant wedi ein hanghofio?
  • A fyddwn ni’n gallu sicrhau bod mesurau cadw pellter cymdeithasol ar waith gyda'r plant a ni?
  • A fydden ni’n gallu lleihau'r risg o heintio yn yr ardaloedd lle mae'r plant yn chwarae yn unol â chanllawiau i roi hyder i rieni a ni?
  • A fyddai'r plant yn gweld y newidiadau yn heriol?

Ar ôl asesu risg a thrafodaethau rhyngon ni, daethon ni i'r casgliad, er bod y rhain yn heriau, y gellid eu datrys.

Roedden ni’n gwybod bod disgwyl plant mor ifanc â'r plant rydyn ni'n gofalu amdanyn nhw i gadw pellter cymdeithasol yn afrealistig ac yn amhosib.  Rydyn ni i gyd yn gwybod bod plant yn hoffi cyffwrdd, rhannu a chwarae gyda'r un teganau, felly gallai disgwyl iddyn nhw fynd yn erbyn popeth maen nhw wedi'i ddysgu fod yn ofidus ac yn ddryslyd iddyn nhw a byddai'n rhaid ei rheoli'n ofalus.

Roedden ni hefyd yn poeni am y risg y byddai cael plant eraill yn ein cartrefi yn peri i'n teulu ein hunain. Gwnaethon ni ofyn am farn ein plant ein hunain cyn i ni wneud unrhyw benderfyniadau. Roedden nhw wrth eu bodd bod y plant yn dod yn ôl ac roedden nhw’n croesawu’r syniad.

Asesiadau risg

Gyda'r holl wybodaeth yr oedden ni wedi'i chasglu gwnaethon ni roi cynllun ar waith ac asesiad risg.  Gwnaethon ni edrych ar y newidiadau y byddai'n rhaid i ni eu gwneud yn ein lleoliad i fodloni gofynion rheoliadol a chanllawiau’r Llywodraeth ac amddiffyn y plant, eu teuluoedd a ni a'n teulu.  Roedd hyn yn cynnwys adolygu ein hamserlen lanhau, sicrhau stoc ddigonol o PPE ac iechyd a hylendid yn y lleoliad.

Rhai o'r newidiadau allweddol a wnaethon ni oedd lleihau'r mathau o deganau ac offer y bydden ni’n eu darparu i'r plant. Gwnaethon ni gael gwared ar deganau meddal sy'n cynnal germau a gwnaethon ni ychwanegu teganau a oedd yn hawdd eu glanhau.  Gwnaethon ni ddyfeisio cynllun casglu a gollwng ar gyfer y rhieni a'r plant er mwyn sicrhau cadw at reolau pellter cymdeithasol.  Gwnaethon ni hefyd gydnabod pwysigrwydd chwarae yn yr awyr agored yn y lleoliad a cheisio cynyddu hyn i'r eithaf.

Gwnaethon ni ddyfeisio polisi Covid-19 gyda chymorth PACEY sydd wedi'i anfon at yr holl rieni a gofalwyr sy'n defnyddio ein lleoliad. Mae'r polisi hwn yn amlinellu'r newidiadau rydyn ni wedi'u gwneud ac yn tynnu sylw at bwysigrwydd gweithio ar y cyd â theuluoedd a sicrhau perthynas agored a gonest. Roedd hyn hefyd i sicrhau rhieni y byddai pethau'n newid er mwyn amddiffyn pawb.

Mae PACEY wedi chwarae rhan hanfodol yn ein hyder i gael y plant yn ôl yn ein lleoliad. Roedden ni’n gallu lawrlwytho posteri i'w harddangos gyda gwybodaeth am gasglu a gollwng, symptomau a salwch, pethau i'w hystyried, a chanllawiau ar beth i'w wneud os oes gan blentyn symptomau yn ein gofal neu'r protocol i'w ddilyn os oes ganddo symptomau gartref.

Diwallu anghenion pob plentyn unigol

Yn ogystal â chadw plant yn ddiogel, mae eu hiechyd meddwl a'u lles emosiynol yr un mor bwysig. Bydden ni’n sicrhau ein bod ar gael i'r plant siarad am eu teimladau a'u pryderon, parhau â'r strwythur a'r drefn a oedd gennyn ni a darparu cysur a sicrwydd i'r plant.

Sicrhaodd cadw mewn cysylltiad â rhieni ein bod yn gallu cael y wybodaeth ddiweddaraf am ddatblygiad a chynnydd y plant. Drwy ddeall sut roedden nhw wedi newid, bydden ni’n gallu addasu'n well i'w hanghenion unigol pan roedden nhw’n dod yn ôl i'n lleoliad.   Erbyn hyn, roedd un plentyn bach wedi'i hyfforddi i fynd i’r tŷ bach ac wedi ennill y lefel honno o annibyniaeth, roedd gennyn ni un bach arall yr oedd ei ddatblygiad iaith wedi symud ymlaen fel eu bod yn gallu cyfathrebu'n gliriach, gwnaethon ni hyd yn oed ei golli yn dweud ein henwau am y tro cyntaf ond gwnaeth eu rhieni ei recordio a’i anfon aton ni.

Roedd y noson cyn i rai o'r plant ddychwelyd yn un anodd. Chwaraeodd arferion a chynllunio ar ein meddyliau, buon ni’n cwestiynu popeth drosodd a throsodd ac yn rhedeg trwy senarios yn ein meddyliau ac roedd sut y bydden ni’n eu trin.

O'r diwedd, cyrhaeddodd y diwrnod, roedd yn bryd i’r plant gyrraedd a gwnaethon ni gamu ar hyd yr ystafell yn aros i'r gloch ganu. Gallem glywed dau blentyn o un teulu yn sgwrsio wrth iddynt gyrraedd y giât, ein stumogau mewn clymau. Edrychodd Ashwyn a fi ar ein gilydd a gwenon ni, yr eiliad y gwnaethon ni weld y plant yr oedden ni’n gwybod y byddai'n mynd i fod yn iawn.

Daeth y plant aton ni ychydig yn bryderus ar y dechrau, ac roedd hynny i'w ddisgwyl gan ei fod wedi bod yn gymaint o amser iddyn nhw, gwnaethon ni roi cwtsh iddyn nhw a dweud cymaint roedden ni wedi'u colli. Roedd popeth yn teimlo’n iawn.

Roedd y diwrnod yn flinedig, gwnaethon ni chwarae, dawnsio, canu, chwerthin a glanhau! Gwnaethon ni gadw mewn cysylltiad rheolaidd â'r rhieni i dawelu eu meddwl bod y plant yn iawn. Roedd y plant yn hapus ac yn fodlon ac yn gyffrous i ddod i chwarae drannoeth.

Ar ôl i'r plant adael, gwnaethon ni lanhau'r teganau, yr offer a'r amgylchedd yr oedd gan y plant fynediad atynt, yna cwympo ar y soffa wedi blino'n lân ond yn barod i wneud y cyfan eto drannoeth 

Rydyn ni’n sicr y byddwn yn wynebu heriau eraill wrth i ni symud ymlaen trwy'r cyfnod anodd hwn, fodd bynnag, mae un peth yn ddiamheuol, bod yn warchodwyr plant yw'r swydd orau yn y byd o bell ffordd.

Darllen profiadau eraill a chael gafael ar gymorth ac adnoddau pellach yn y Pecyn Cymorth Ailagor.

 

 

 

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