The People and the Planet: a story of hope during the pandemic

Last year, we featured Hannah Howells’ story about having her baby, Wilf, in the midst of lockdown. Now Hannah has written a book for children about the pandemic. We asked her about it, as well as her experiences of parenthood during the challenging last 18 months.

What is your new book about?

The People and the Planet is about the pandemic. It’s a story about planet Earth sending a message to people to stop and think. It’s a thought-provoking tale about hope and togetherness, and about the importance of staying strong when times are tough.

Can you tell us a little bit about why you decided to write the book?

I wrote the first draft of The People and the Planet when I was pregnant with our second child.

I was weeks away from giving birth and I felt like our world had suddenly been turned upside down. It was through these feelings of confusion and upset that a little idea sparked.

As a family we vowed to try and make the best of things, and that’s when I began wondering whether this was perhaps a sign to us all to slow down and embrace the changes that were happening.

I wanted to write something which parents could read to their children so that they could open up about their feelings and experiences during the pandemic.

What was your experience of having a baby during the pandemic?

It was not at all how I imagined ever bringing a baby into the world! Naturally I compared everything to when I had my first son, and it was hard knowing that there was so much that we were missing out on.

In many ways, it was also really special too.

But in so many ways, it was also really special too. We nested as a family of four and just got on with it.

It was as if time slowed down completely as we just went back to basics – we didn’t have anywhere to be or anyone to see. Whilst it really was tough, it definitely made us stronger too.

What do you think have been the hardest things for parents to cope with during the pandemic?

I think not having a support network was one of the hardest things for us. When my husband’s paternity leave ended, even though he was working from home, I suddenly felt completely overwhelmed.

The lack of freedom was incredibly hard too – not even being able to take my toddler to the park just felt so unfair.

We had our second baby right at the start of the first lockdown when there was so much unknown about covid.

Having so many uncertainties and being scared because there weren’t answers was really hard to cope with.

Do you think the pandemic helped with a global sense of togetherness?

I think so. We have friends and family all over the world and in a strange way, it’s as if the pandemic has brought a real sense of unity.

I think people learned to check in with each other a lot more, to make an effort to talk, to open up about their feelings and share ideas. I remember seeing a news clip about children making rainbows to put up in their windows and us doing the same – that sense of togetherness, for us, really helped.

Did it help you to know that worldwide, parents were going through the same struggles?

The pressure of the pandemic meant that the struggles were even harder

There was a strange comfort in knowing that we weren’t alone in what we were going through, but at the same time there was a great deal of sadness. Bringing a baby into the world should be joyous, and it just didn’t seem fair that it was tainted for so many.

And parenting itself is tough at the best of times, so the pressure of the pandemic meant that the struggles were even harder. As parents, if we’ve managed to get through the past year, I think we can all get through anything.

What’s your advice for parents-to-be who are apprehensive about what the future brings?

I would advise anyone out there to just go with it. Try and adapt and try to find the positives, wherever and whatever they may be.

The past year has taught us that it’s impossible to control every aspect of our lives and that we never quite know what’s around the corner. But the most important thing is to look out for each other.

It seems like we’ve all learned to slow down and I hope that continues – that people welcoming babies enjoy their newborn bubble and lap up the quiet time as a new family. The rest of the world will still be there, so just enjoy that special time whilst you can.

More info

Hannah’s book, The People and the Planet, is available on Amazon priced £4.99.

You can follow Hannah on Instagram on another__mama

Read about Hannah’s experience of being pregnant and having a baby during the pandemic in our series.