I’m not sure really where to start right now. In the past few weeks, everything has gone to shit (excuse my French), and we appear to be in a sort-of, not-quite-but-pretty-much Lockdown. While everyone else seems to be baking bread, learning Mandarin, renovating their houses and binge watching Tiger King, I… am not.
I understand that these times are weird enough for us all anyway, but I really feel as though being a working mama, freelancing, being a keyworker for 4 nights a week, and juggling everyday life is just throwing me for a loop.
On the one hand, I know I am so lucky. Steven has always worked from home – he has a cabin office in the garden so we have the perks of him being able to pop into the house and help put Roo down for a nap (he’s the baby rocking King), but he can also be away from the chaos in the house when he’s trying to have an important video call. I’m aware that for a lot of people, neither of them have ever worked from home and they’re trying to navigate that, so in that way, things aren’t that different for us.
But usually, Roo and I fill our week with so many mini adventures and I didn’t realise how much it would get me down, not being able to do them. For example, we always have at least one class a week, and a lovely group of Mummy friends that we can meet up with for park walks, coffee or soft play. I’ll pop into see my in-laws at least once a week, and I can enjoy a hot cup of tea while Ruben runs rings around his grandparents. If I have something I need to do, I know that my in-laws, or Steven’s sister will happily watch Roo, and he will have the best time. He’s such a sociable baby, and seeing him interact with other babies makes my heart happy.
Even on days when we don’t have plans, I try to get out at least once. Heading to Tesco and having a mooch around the baby clothes or checking out the random tat in B&M is a great way to kill a few hours. Ruben loves being sat high up in a trolley and saying hello to random people and it’s a nice change of scenery.
But, as things are, we are stuck in the house (as is everyone else of course), and I’m really finding it tough.
Facebook groups are full of the most amazing ideas of ways to keep your kids occupied, and I can’t wait until Roo is old enough to do some of the activities. But I felt like things for a toddler (who isn’t yet toddling or even close to) were pretty few and far between. I was lucky enough to be added to a group chat by the lovely @Rosieslifexo on Instagram with babies of a similar age. It’s been really great swapping ideas but honestly, Ruben couldn’t care less.
I set him up an outdoor wonderland (well, a slide, ball pit, sand and tipi but it looked pretty cool) and he just wanted to go back inside and watch Elmo. This morning I set up a sand and water pit for him. Blowing the bloody thing up almost killed me and he poured some sand on the floor with the spade and then decided he wanted to play with keys instead. The more effort I put into setting something up, the absolute less he cares.
All I need to give him is the Apple TV remote (he understands the play and pause button – is that good teaching of cause and effect or bad parenting, I can’t decide), some carby snacks (same, son, same) and something that he shouldn’t have such as Steven’s giant, germy bunch of keys.
I’m so BORED of watching the same songs on Youtube. Although I’m still not bored of seeing him attempt the actions, that’s pretty damn cute. I want to at least put on some Disney but my stubborn little Sagittarius knows what he wants to watch and that’s Elmo singing “If you’re happy and you know it” a million times.
I want to be a cute, Pinterest Mum. I really have the best intentions. I tried to dye some oats the other day, to make a fun sensory tray. Instead, I dyed my hands and 4 days later threw the bloody things away because they hadn’t dried and I had basically made a porridge-cement hybrid that ruined my baking tray. Awesome.
I also still have a buttload of freelance work todo and I realise that that makes me so damn lucky. Steven and I are trying to find a new normal and a way where we can both share the childcare and work hours. Steven is an early bird, so he starts working at stupid o’clock while Ruben and I are still in bed (together of course because he ends up in our bed at 3am most days). Then after lunch, we swap. It’s not perfect. It’s hard for us both trying to transition between parent and work, but I also realise we are incredibly lucky to still have work coming in (for now) and being our own bosses, so that we can make our own hours.
Then, 4 nights a week I head off to my “proper” job. I work on the phones as a counsellor for a Children’s charity and it’s a job I really love. But it’s hard. Emotionally it’s a lot, and being out in the world, when I know we are supposed to be staying home is weird. I also spend the next day properly knackered, so I feel like that’s a wasted day.
In fact, wasted is a good word for how I’m feeling – sadly not because of the alcohol! I feel like we are wasting some amazing days for Ruben that could be spent making memories and going on adventures. One thing I’ve thought about a lot, is how different it would be if this was happening 2 years ago, in the pre-Roo days. I feel like I’d be spending my days writing, blogging, sorting the house, gardening, watching Netflix, baking, napping and living my best life. Is that what everyone else is doing? Would I really be doing that, or would I actually just waste time scrolling through TikTok?
I always feel like I have to be being productive at all times, so I’ve already written a list of things I want to get done during lockdown. From making the middle room into a playroom, and making the garden Ruben-friendly, to clearing out the pantry and FINALLY doing our Disneyland Paris scrap book. So far, I have achieved zero. Maybe even minus zero. I literally just had to stop writing this to go into the house to help clear up all of the mess from the sand and water tray… It took 4 times as long to tidy up than was spent playing with it.
But on the other hand, we are getting to do so much together as a little family and I love it. Steven and Ruben play piano every day and it makes me heart hurt. We FaceTime friends and family and even had a chat with 2 different neighbours over the fence. Sometimes I cry at the news, and other times we write a quiz and invite everyone we know to play with us.
It’s such a confusing time. Occasionally I can convince myself that everything is normal. I’m choosing to stay inside. The world is going on as normal. Everything is okay. But then a little something throws me off – like thinking about ‘popping’ to the shops and remembering that that’s no longer an option.
So I’m writing this for a number of reasons. Partially to get my thoughts out from the jumbled mess in my head and onto (digital) paper, because I know that helps me process. But also, to let anyone reading know that not everyone is using Lockdown as a chance to redecorate the house and write a novel. Some of us are just fumbling along in this weird Groundhog Day, and watching ar too much Sesame Street. And that’s okay.