In my last column, written in a world where lockdown was just a possibility, I wrote about how I hoped nurseries would stay open for as long as possible. Well obviously my opinion held no weight with Number 10 because the day we went to press we also went into lockdown! In the weeks since that life-changing decision was made — whether you’re stuck in your bedroom or venturing to the shops — everyone’s lives have become almost unrecognisable. This is what I’ve learnt while living through a modern pandemic.
1. I’m a working mum, so I’m no stranger to juggling work with childcare or even to full days of childcare, but all day alone with two children and no playdates, soft play or parks to break up the day is pretty intense. On the plus side, I have discovered new heights of creativity. The things I can do with an empty toilet roll and some paint would amaze you.
2. When you get married you assume the person you chose is the one person you could be locked-down with. I’m happy to report I made the right choice. After 13 years as a couple and seven years married we are still happy together after being confined with two young children for a whole month. Ordinarily his working hours mean that I rarely see him during the week and the weekend is usually spent tag-teaming childcare or doing kid-friendly activities, so we almost never get any quality couple time. When reality kicks back in I’m going to miss having dinner with him on a regular basis. Even if those dinners are increasingly “things on toast” or “freezer surprise”.
3. I never want to see another meme again.
4. Corona hasn’t got me yet but dehydration might. I pride myself on always drinking my eight cups or more a day of water. In the office I have a two litre bottle on my desk that gets refilled throughout the day. A whole day at home bouncing between children, cleaning, work, cleaning means that I just don’t have time to drink.
5. When we’re all at home we eat So. Much. Food.
6. When we’re all at home I do So. Much. Cleaning.
7. How many more articles can I read telling me now is the time to clear out my wardrobe? I have less time to myself now than when I was working and doing the nursery run. Although one article I read helpfully suggested that if you don’t have enough room to store next seasons clothes put them in the freezer. I’ll just let that sink in…
8. Lockdown has introduced a whole new level of mum guilt. My social media news feed is bursting with creativity and fabulous ways to homeschool your children. Potty training your three-month-old? Why not? Taught your toddler to read? Fabulous. Your seven-year-old redecorated your whole house using just the remains of their Crayola paints? I salute you. But please, stop posting about it.
9. Oh and at the same time you rearranged your wardrobe/freezer/larder/toy cupboard and learnt a foreign language?
10. This is a serious one. People are so scared of potentially catching coronavirus that they’re questioning whether to vaccinate their babies or not. One post on Facebook suggested that if they’re not leaving the house anyway they’re unlikely to catch the illnesses the vaccinations protect against, but going to the doctor’s surgery risks interaction with Covid-19. Surely if this experience has taught us anything it’s that immunity is king.
I’m definitely ready for lockdown to end but feel very differently about it than I did last time I wrote. Spending proper quality time with my family with fewer distractions and nowhere to rush to has been lovely and I hope this calmer approach to our days continues after the rat race picks back up again.