St. Catharines family can’t wait to burst the COVID bubble

Born on March 17, 2020, Max McBeaudry came into this world on the same day the province went into a state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic. - Melinda Cheevers/Metroland

St. Patrick’s Day 2020 was not only the day Max Patrick McBeaudry was born, but the same day Premier Doug Ford declared Ontario to be in a state of emergency due to COVID-19.

On March 17, Max turned one and his first year was definitely impacted by the pandemic, said mother Leah McBeaudry, from St. Catharines, who offered some reflection of pandemic parenting the past year.

McBeaudry said that there are many members of Max’s extended family who he has yet to meet. She used to joke with her husband Mitch when Max was born that he would meet his family by the time he turned one.

“But now he’s one and he still hasn’t met most of them,” she said.

After a few months of seclusion with just mom, dad, and big sister, three-year-old Autumn, for company, Max’s grandparents were added to the family’s bubble too.

McBeaudry said the pandemic has been really difficult as a parent, given the inability to reach out to different support systems she otherwise would be able to access.

“Whether it be family or social support services provided by the community, it definitely made it extra challenging.”

In her case, she said there’s the added challenge of both of her children being young. Although putting her kids in a routine of waking up in the morning and going for a daily walk helped keep her kids engaged, it wasn’t always reliable.

“What works today doesn’t necessarily work tomorrow,” she said. “You’ve kind of just gotta keep trying new things until something works.” 

During her walks, she had a rule set with Autumn that if other people were at the park, they weren’t going to the park. She’s worried that her kids are missing out on vital socialization time.

“I haven’t taken (them) to a grocery store in over a year,” McBeaudry said.

She’s tried to have conversations with Autumn to ensure she is at least cognizant of why.

“She’s aware of it. She talks about big germies (germs); people have germies, and you can’t touch people and you have to give people space.”

With maternity leave ending and McBeaudry returning to her job again in the coming days, she said she was grateful for the daycare arrangement she was able to make for her children. The idea of working from home with young children made her anxious.

Unlike his sister’s first birthday, which featured a candy-themed party, Max’s celebration of his first turn around the sun was a much more subdued affair. Dressed in his finest green apparel, he was able to partake in the cake smash tradition with family and friends watching via livestream from the comforts of their own home. 

McBeaudry said that her first guess at what she would do post-COVID, would be to host a party with her extended family so she could introduce them to Max, as they have “already missed so much.”