Mums in lockdown; Working mum edition

I’m so delighted to share this account of lockdown life from my lovely friend Vicki who is a mum to a 2 year old (‘E’), a wife (to ‘T’) and a secondary school teacher. Yikes. The juggle is real.

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‘Find a new hobby; learn something new’. Pah. Ok then. How about we just focus on getting through this s**t one day at a time. (Or one hour some days).

I would have liked to come out of this Covid sitch with new and profound revelations about myself, but realistically, I haven’t really thought about anything except what’s E having for breakfast/ lunch/ dinner/ snacks (delete as appropriate) or what we’re having for breakfast/ lunch/ dinner/ snacks. And wine. Oh, and how about that small issue of actually finding time to work. LOL. 

When chatting to the gorg Vicky Gooden about this project, I thought to myself, OK, here’s my chance to ACTUALLY try something new; to be pushed out of my comfort zone; to ‘get into’ the blogging world, even if it is just this one time. So here goes:

Toddler. Work. Husband. Me.

I haven’t ranked them, because, well, that would be pretty shit for T, (and me), but thinking about it, it probably does fall into that order most days.

Toddler

We have been super lucky that our toddler (nearly 2) is pretty easy going, and can, on some occasions, play on her own. Granted, it’s for not much longer than 5 minutes, but enough to glug some coffee down and have a wee. 

But what I have found, is that I’ve been riddled with the dreaded mum guilt on many occasions; something I didn’t expect tbh. Especially as I have been working from home (more about that later), and therefore have more time to spend with my little love. But it’s normal. I can guarantee that all my mum friends feel exactly the same. 

I keep hearing that I ‘should’ be spending every minute of every day with E, as ‘we’ll never get this time again’. Which is true, but also, IT’S HARD WORK. And I want time on my own. How selfish of me. 

The ‘terrible two’s are a thing. The tantrums and mood swings; G*d, they come out of nowhere! I’ve also heard ‘no’ more in the last 2 months from a little human than I have in my entire life. And I’ve ‘encouraged’ her to eat more meals than I ever thought I’d have to. ‘Just one more bite, please? For mummy? Bunny wants you to have a bite!’. Repeat x 1000. 

But, what I am so grateful for is that both my husband and I have been able to watch her learn about the world, start learning numbers and colours, and actually be able to have a conversation with her. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without ‘lockdown’. And we’ve done it all without actually spending a fortune on expensive toys; we’ve made do with what we have at home. Coloured buttons have been a lifesaver, as have crafty pom poms and sticky back plastic. Another mess free activity that keeps E entertained for ages. 

Having a toddler in lockdown is draining. It’s the truth. Having 2 must be a nightmare. I don’t know how single parents do it. I have the upmost respect for you all ‘out there’. Go have some wine/ gin/both. 

‘Mummy’s going to work E’. Cue running upstairs to the 3rd bedroom (AKA the office) with a hot tea in tow. On my own. Bliss.

Work

I have the pleasure to admit that I am a secondary school Dance teacher. I love my job. And I miss my kids.

I have students that I have taught for 7 years, have watched them grow emotionally and physically, and have forged relationships with these young adults that I hope will stay with them in their next chapters. Each of my students, my sixth formers especially, have changed me as a teacher, and each of them will stay with me forever. And I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye. I am gutted. We have had to settle for an exchange of a few emails. It’s not enough. And I know there are hundreds of ‘us’ who feel the same. I hear ya. 

But I have had to get over this for the time being, and focus on my gorgeous set of GCSE students. Those who will actually sit exams in 2021. Or will they? It is all still so uncertain. But still we plod on. 

‘Set work that challenges the students. Make sure they have 5-7 hours of work per day. But don’t set too much. At least one lesson a fortnight needs to be live. You must be giving constructive feedback for every piece of work. They must respond and reflect on that feedback. Make sure students can access the work. Put it on SMHW (an online homework portal). And email the students. And their parents. Send reminders for the homework before its due. Then chase them some more.’. 

Stop. Breathe. What’s the most important thing here? Mental and emotional wellbeing. For us and our students.

My ‘kids’ email me when they are struggling. I am so glad they do. My reply is always, ‘Don’t worry. Are you ok? The work can wait. Focus on you, get outside, go for a walk. Talk to someone’. Now is not the time to ‘discipline’ them for being late with their work. Yes, we as teachers are expected to set work, to do live lessons. But if my students’ are struggling, (and I don’t blame them tbh!), we can catch up later. 

My priorities as a teacher have changed. And I think that has affected my personal life too. 

Husband

Best friend. Sounding board. Rock. 

Again, I’m lucky. He is present. He is there. He plays with our daughter so hard, it puts me to shame. E adores him. And so do I. 

He’s been on 3 hour bike rides. He’s been to the driving range. He’s been into work. And a little bit of resentment snuck in. Do I really want to go on 3 hour bike rides? No, of course not. But I can, and yet I don’t. I can’t explain it. Perhaps it’s that little bit of mum guilt? Probably. 

We haven’t had a ‘date night’. We’ve ordered takeaways, of course, but we haven’t gone all out. I see couples on Instagram getting all dressed up and putting make up on, but honestly, all I want to do is get into my pjs and watch TV. I haven’t succumbed to the social media pressure, and for that I feel pretty good. 

But we have been outside. A lot. We have gone on countless bike rides as a family. We have walked miles. Time together as a family to just ‘be’. It has been lovely. 

On top of trying to balance both our working schedules, keeping a toddler entertained and all getting outside for our exercise, I am really surprised that we haven’t had more arguments. It’s working. We both like our own time, and have found a pretty good balance I think.

Me

I haven’t mastered a new skill. I haven’t learnt anything new. I haven’t gone on a strict diet, but I haven’t completely binged every day either. I am still ‘soft round the edges’. And I am beginning to like that more, day by day.

I hadn’t been on my own for more than 30 minutes until last week. That’s 2 months. I’ve been with T or E all the time. And no one else for company. But actually, it hasn’t bothered me *that* much. I am a home bird. I like being at home.  

But what I have been doing is making a mental list of all the people I want to see, and the places I want to go once we can. It’s long. Very long. And what I know we will do more often is say ‘sod the routine’, let’s go here tomorrow, and just get up and go.

So this is what I will take out of Lockdown. I think. 

To be more spontaneous. 

To embrace each day, and not ‘waste’ them in favour of E’s routine. 

To know my priorities. 

To travel more. 

To make more time for my friends. 

To become better at saying yes to things. 

I don’t really know what I set out to say in this blog, but what it has seemed to be, is the inner thoughts of a working mum of a nearly 2-year-old just trying to get by. 

Thank you, and good night.

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