Pain of losing playgrounds

Village Square Park at Wantirna South.

OPINION – MELISSA MEEHAN

Lockdown is hard.

It’s no secret.

As Victorians we’ve come to accept it as a way of life during this pandemic.

So when news broke of tougher restrictions I think many of us dug our heels in and were ready to cop it on the chin.

And then they announced playgrounds, and now kinder and childcare, were closed.

So many parents, including myself, were broken by the news.

In a world where most kid’s activities have been cancelled or at the very best continued remotely – the playground felt like the one true escape from the four walls of home.

My daughter thrives on routine.

So to have ballet, sport and swimming cancelled – it’s really knocked the wind out of her sails.

So playground became part of our daily routine.

We would walk to the closest one, have a play and then walk home.

But now – there’s little incentive for my kids (aged two and four) to walk that kind of distance.

Their little legs and minds need a reward at the end.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said contract tracing teams were feverishly chasing down a belief that one case had been spread by transmission at a playground.

And if that is true. I get it.

I know if one kid sneezes at kinder, the whole class is a very good chance of copping a cold themselves.

As a father of three kids himself, I can’t think what a tough decision it would have been to be the man who shut down playgrounds.

But he said groups were using the playground as an excuse to “bump” into friends and family.

It’s true.

I’m guilty of it myself.

As humans we crave personal contact. I need it as much as the kids do.

So meeting my bestie and her kids at the park so they can play and we can chat didn’t seem so bad.

And now that they don’t even have the outlet of going to kinder or childcare, unless their parents are essential workers, their social outlet is really limited.

I really hope those doing the wrong thing wake up, and get it right.

Because it’s affecting us all. Especially the kids.

And now that kinder and childcare has been closed to all except children of essential workers – another social outlet is gone.

And yet again, those with tiny legs aren’t really keen to go for long walks with mum and dad.

It’s a hard slog for everyone. But let’s take a minute and think of the parents who aren’t essential who are working from home with numerous kids in the background.

It’s never going to be easy.

But we are all, mostly, in it together.

Employers need to realise that parents are doing the best they can. As is everyone else.