Life lessons learnt in lockdown
So it is possible to be organised enough with your meal planning and food shopping to avoid going to the supermarket twice a day, everyday. Who knew?
My husband has done truly wonderful and thoughtful things for our family during lockdown. But I’m sorry to inform you that removing his empty coffee cups, plates and chocolate wrappers from our office at the end of the working day is not one of them.
When I thought perhaps my daughter would enjoy doing an online workout with me I was wrong. She lies down the moment it starts and doesn’t get up until it’s over, and I respect that decision.
Buying a set of houseplants is a bit like having a load more babies to look after. Except these ones come with INSTRUCTIONS.
Though spending so much time at home with a toddler is far from easy, there is no human being on earth who could make me laugh so frequently as she does – and laughing helps.
The best way to check how stressed I’m feeling is to fall asleep and see what my dreams look like. Oh hello ALL OF MY FEARS ACTED OUT IN TECHNICOLOUR. Perhaps I am a little closer to the edge than I realised.
I can write with my daughter bouncing up and down on the sofa next to me, leaning on me, attempting to push me off my chair, saying “Can I help you, mummy” and punching my keyboard… you name it. It’s not my preferred way of working, but I now know I can do it. She is simultaneously the cutest and most destructive co-worker I have ever had.
Related: I have also learnt the importance of the ‘save’ function.
My phone is both crucial to keeping me connected to the outside world, and the item most capable of making me feel disconnected from myself when I forget to use it wisely.
There’s a reason everybody is baking so much during lockdown – it helps. You can look at it and say “Well, if I achieve nothing else today, at least I made that.”
…There’s also a direct link between my husband saying he’s going to exercise, and me wanting to bake something unhealthy. My commitment to balance in this marriage knows no bounds.
There is no greater high than coming up with an activity to do with your toddler and seeing them actually engage with it for more than three seconds.
Related: melting chocolate and using it to make chocolate buttons was a great thing to do with our daughter because a) she seemed to genuinely enjoy it (particularly the part where she poured the whole bowl of hundreds and thousands we were using as decorations on the kitchen floor) and b) I got to eat everything we made.
It’s astounding how much simply tidying up a shelf or sorting out the cutlery drawer can do for morale when you’re spending this much time at home. Of course we have little time do such things, but when we do find a window – wow, what a boost!
Finishing the day with a walk by myself with my headphones in and a podcast on – the sillier the better – does more for my sanity than I ever could have imagined.
…And when I feel I don’t have the energy to go on that walk, that’s when I need it most.
Limitations on the amount of time you can spend outside make you appreciate the insane beauty of flowers, trees, birds, the sky… all of it. I won’t be taking those things for granted any more.
If your two-year-old insists on listening to their audiobook of The Gruffalo enough times, you will become able to recite it on demand. I’m not sure this will prove a useful skill beyond my lounge, but I’ll chuck it on my CV anyway.
I can ask my mum to hold the phone a bit further away from her face so that I can see more than just her chin during a video call as many times as I like. It’s clearly never going to work.
Just because you found being a parent difficult today, it doesn’t mean you will tomorrow. Hang in there.
The bar for what classes as a life update worth sharing with other people has never been lower. I’ve got some new address stickers for our wheelie bins! I’ve started adding mascarpone to meals and it’s great, isn’t it! I thought there was a spider on the kitchen floor but it was actually a ball of my hair! I don’t care if you care, I have to talk to someone.
There’s a time and a place to let your husband know how much it irritates you that he doesn’t tidy up as he goes whilst cooking, and the second he places the meal he’s kindly made in front of you is not it.
There’s nothing like spending every hour of every day with a toddler by your side, copying your every move, to make you realise how much of your life you spend with your hands on your hips (the entire time, apparently).
My capacity for guilt as a parent is so huge that I even feel guilty that my child is having to cope with living through a pandemic, despite the fact that I PLAYED NO PART IN BRINGING IT ABOUT, OBVIOUSLY.
I don’t need to spend anywhere near as much time explaining myself as I thought. Don’t want to have a video call tonight? Don’t. Need a night off your phone? Have it. Only free to work at set times because you have a child? It’s all OK. This period has taught me how much better I feel – and how much more helpful a person I am to know – when I own my circumstances and stop apologising.
There’s something touching and heartbreaking about seeing your child step aside to let strangers pass in the park and say “We need to give people lots of space” even though they have absolutely no idea why.
No, I probably shouldn’t be letting my daughter chuck the tubs of water filled with food colouring she plays with in the garden all over the flowers we’re attempting to grow. But I’m just so happy that she wants to help, who cares if the sunflowers come up blue.
It’s incredibly difficult not to let the vast levels of anxiety involved with simply leaving the house during this crisis spill out into your parenting. When it inevitably happens, noticing, slowing down, and taking a moment to be kind to everyone – including yourself – helps.
It’s been said a billion times before but this is unchartered territory. If you feel like you’re not great at this, it’s because there’s no way you could be.
No matter how many weeks and months we spend at home, it will never be enough to get all the laundry clean, dry and put away, so I may as well stop trying.
Our marriage is at its best when we take the time to spot ways to make life easier for each other. And that can only happen if we keep talking about how we’re feeling.
There’s a difference between both being at home all the time, and actually spending quality time together as a couple. We still have to put the effort in and that currently takes the form of a takeaway and a chat on a Saturday night. I look forward to it all week.
A typical day as a mum for me right now looks like this – I’m knackered all day, unsure as to what we should do most of the time, delighted when there’s calm, ecstatic when there’s joy, gutted when there are tears, game for every cuddle I can get, and so very ready for a break when bedtime rolls around. And then the second she’s asleep, I miss her. Get comfortable with feeling 45 emotions at all times and you’ll be the greatest, most content parent there’s ever been.
It is entirely possible to be both grateful for everything that makes your life good and your problems manageable, and free to mention that you’re finding this situation somewhat trying. We are all a lot of things at the moment.
Whatever you’re waiting for – whether it’s the delivery of a new office chair, some much-needed flour, or for the time when you’ll get to hug your family and friends again, it will come. Hold on.