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  • Chris Keen

Would you leave your baby with a complete stranger?

Ok so if you're in your right mind, the answer to that question would always be a big fat NO!


However we found ourselves in a situation a few weeks ago where we had no choice but to do this due to an emergency appointment at the hospital.


Let me explain...


We've been living up in Scotland for about 4 months now and we are loving it but because of Covid-19 we haven’t really met many of our neighbours. It’s usually one of the first things we do when we move into a new military quarter because I think it’s VERY important to get to know the people on your patch. Due to the current restrictions though it’s been a bit difficult.


I am however part of the private patch facebook group and the patch WhatsApp group, so although we haven’t physically met most of the neighbours, we do actually communicate quite a lot via those electronic means.


So we had to go to the hospital pretty sharpish, but again because of Covid-19, babies aren’t allowed in the hospital (unless of course it’s for them, which it wasn’t) so we were pretty stuck!


We needed somebody to look after Holly but our nearest friends and family live 5 hours away so we don’t have the luxury of just calling someone round. Instead I took to our patch WhatsApp group and said something along the lines of “This is pretty random and I wouldn’t normally do this, but we have no choice really... Would anybody be able to look after Holly for a few hours whilst we pop to the hospital?”


The response as expected was amazing because the military community is so supportive and I know I’ve said it so many times before, it’s like one big team and everybody's there for each other.


Now I won’t mention any names or embarrass anybody but we had some lovely replies and we luckily ended up with several offers of help, with people willing to come around our house to look after Holly while we popped out.


We were so fortunate to have options available pretty quickly, and are ever grateful for those that were able to step in to help. It actually became a team effort in the end because people are still quite busy working. So one person looked after Holly for the first half and then a hand over took place with another person looking after Holly for the second half and taking her out on the school run.


We had met one of the lovely people who helped us out but the others we hadn’t met before, so essentially we did initially leave Holly with a complete stranger, although it really didn’t feel like that because as I mentioned earlier, military communities are like one big team. We also realised that we are very fortunate that Holly wasn’t remotely phased by us leaving her with someone we/she didn’t know!


Considering she was 4 months old when lockdown started, she's spent most of her life seeing only the 2 of us and hasn’t been introduced to many other people. We've actually been worrying what effect this lack of socialising might have on her but luckily as of yet it doesn’t seem to have bothered her at all!


Now I mentioned this whole situation to a good friend of mine afterwards and his response was “you did what?!” He made a comparison which went like this...


Say I worked at Tesco (a big corporation) and we had a WhatsApp group with all the other employees and I wrote a message saying could anybody look after my baby for a few hours? Then Dave off the meat counter (Who I’d never met before) replied saying “yes, I’ll do it.” my reply would be umm actually on second thoughts... I just WOULDN'T do it!


I do completely understand that point of view but within our community it's different...I don’t quite know why or how to explain it, but it is different!


I suppose hearing that point of view has made me realise that those outside of the military community really can’t comprehend what it's like! Hopefully my blogs sharing these experiences gives a little insight for those.


As I mentioned above, being in a military community we have the added complication (depending on where we’re posted) of having no friends or family nearby that we could rely on or fall back on for help.


Even now that we are posted in the UK, we’re still 5 hours away from our friends and family but you could even go more extreme... Like our last posting in the Falkland Islands, we were 8000 miles and an 18 hour flight away from any friends or family.


There are plenty of people postings overseas in this exact same position where families don’t have the luxury of having access to any close connections. Also a few days notice will be required to book flights etc. They could even be in a country that speaks a different language which could leave them feeling even more isolated.


So the ability to call on your neighbours within the military community is essential and in a really cheesy way, they kind of become your friends and family especially in situations like this.

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