Mums in lockdown; Parenting, Play Trays and Poo

Hi, I’m Kat, mummy to Davey just turned 4 and Cleo 23 months, trying to get through this lockdown just like every other mummy/parent out there.

We’ve had some highs and some lows but I think we are struggling through (with the help of vodka) as best we can and I’m going to share some of it with you… so here goes! 

So, until last week, we have literally not left this house since the 14th of March. We got back from a lovely weekend away with the family and then this all started happening. Both kids had slight temperatures over that weekend and the advice was to self isolate for two weeks, so that’s what we did! In the meantime lockdown came into play, which I was quite happy about as Davey suffers from febrile convulsions (seizures due to a high temp) and I wasn’t about to take him out and about anyway! So here we are 12 weeks later, 10lb heavier, no closer to finishing the list of things to do around the house, every garden toy you can imagine, a garage full of Amazon packaging, a 4 year old that thinks he’s 14, a one year old that thinks she’s 14, an Instagram full of kids’ activities and a fair few empty bottles.

Dave my husband has been ‘working from home’. He works from home anyway so it’s quite normal for us but he obviously hasn’t been going out to meetings. He ‘works’ upstairs Monday-Friday. I use the word ‘work’ lightly as every time I go up there he’s laying on the bed with the laptop on his lap and Ghost Hunters is on in the background. Am I jealous/pissed off? He’s working hard trying to provide for us all and I’m having a great time downstairs playing with the kids, making and eating snacks every 10 minutes, watching Bubble Guppies (their favourite show) for the 20th time with no work or social life to worry about. What could be so bad about that? I guess there’s also the washing, the cleaning, the dishes, the hoovering – all that to juggle while keeping the kids from tearing limbs off each other. And he’s up there. No I’m not jealous or pissed off at all **shakes profusely while reaching for the vodka**.

I swear he just tries to look busy, vigorously tapping away on his keyboard when he hears me coming up the stairs. Sometimes I try to walk up really quietly, which is really hard recently with the 10lb I’ve gained, just to try and catch him out having a nice snooze or playing COD on his phone.
 
Tbh he does actually work really hard. He started his own business last year, home based, so he gets to see us all the time – lucky him – and he’s doing really well considering all that’s going on. The kids love him being here and he helps out when he can. He always seems to be the busiest around dinner time though, only the most stressful part of the day. Somehow, he’s always there for the laughs, never for the exploding poos.

We have definitely got a lot closer in all this: learnt a lot about each other; screamed a lot at each other; and even cried. But mainly it’s been a laugh and we’ve made the most of a bad situation. The family time has been great. The kids adore their dad and this makes me love him even more, if that’s possible. We’ve tried to keep things as normal as we can for the kids. With no nursery anymore I’ve had to take on the role of teacher as well as mummy.

Where it all began…

The weather really wasn’t too bad at the start of lockdown luckily. Me and Dave are sitting out in the garden the second Saturday into lock down, nice cold cocktail in hand, the kids have everything; a pool, a swing, a slide, endless toys… What do they do? MOAN! I needed a way to keep them entertained and fast! I literally went into the house and grabbed two trays, an old bag of cereal from the back of the cupboard, some dinosaurs and farm animals and threw them all on the trays. They loved it! Winning!!

I mean Cleo pretty much sat there eating the stale cereal. But was she moaning? No! There was a lovely sound of them happily playing. Me and Dave cheersed our drinks and sat there quite chuffed. I put a couple of pictures up on Instagram of what I did for 5 minutes peace and people seemed to like it.

So this got me thinking. I wanted to try loads more activities with the kids, get them engaged in something, so hopefully, just maybe, I could grab 5 minutes peace in the week.  
 
The launch of ‘Kids Learning Through Play’

I ordered a big tray for messy play and started looking online for ideas. I’ve always been quite artistic/creative (I’m a hairdresser/barber by trade) so this was all right up my street! Once most of Amazon’s art supplies were at my house I started doing the kids a new play tray every day. It was so exciting seeing their little faces light up for the big reveal!

I put the trays on my Instagram – @kids_play_learn_laugh – and the comments kept coming – it felt good! I quickly passed 500 followers, then 1000 and last week passed the 2000 mark. I felt like I was achieving something with the kids and the mum guilt was a little less! Yes, you can no longer see your friends and you’re stuck in the house with a hormonal mum and a work-stressed dad, but you have a bloody good play tray to look forward to each day! It’s good for them and good for me. It’s given me something to focus on. Something for me. Not having to think about what was happening outside these four walls.

I love seeing them learning and taking things in. They are like little sponges at this age. The way their little minds work fascinates me, and sometimes worries me as they do the strangest things. Who dips every Quaver into the paddling pool before eating it?? Cleo… Surely she would realise after the first one or even the second it dissolves before reaching your mouth. Nope I’m gonna do the whole bag. Well as long as you’re quiet my love and not bugging me for something, you crack on.

So that ‘me-time’ I so badly wanted is now me choosing to set up these activities for the kids and me wanting to join in. I’ve been up until 1am before setting up a tray for them! I don’t even stay out till 1am with my mates on a night out! So lockdown has definitely brought out the creative teacher in me, made me think more seriously about homeschooling and really made me appreciate this time with my gorgeous, clever, funny, cheeky kids!

I can’t help but feel a little anxious about when Cleo gets out of lockdown, she is only one and I feel this is going to have a big effect on her. She was going to nursery two days a week before all this and had started to really love it. Mummy was loving it too! Kids get used to new things really quickly so in time it will work out, but all she knows atm is Davey, Daddy, Mummy and some familiar faces on a phone screen. Thank goodness we have been able to meet my dad and brother in the park recently, she’s a little shy at first but is soon picking flowers and running over to them. It’s nice to see she’s still comfortable with them.
 
We went for a walk in the woods last Friday for the first time with friends: my best friends who are more like my sisters. At one point, I had to leave Cleo to take something back to the car, which was only a few feet away, and when she realised I wasn’t there, she sobbed uncontrollably.

My friend would usually pick her up and cuddle her, but with the current circumstances, she couldn’t. Which was both strange and upsetting for all.

At this age they change week on week. Cleo is quickly becoming a little lady and has a big personality! I’m sad that my friends and family aren’t seeing her grow like we are and I’m sad I’m missing my friends’ little ones too. I’m not so bothered about them seeing what this kid puts in her mouth, it’s gross! I’d rather not see!
She is teething really bad right now. The dreaded molars, great timing! So she is literally chewing everything in sight.

She idolises Davey. Anything Davey does she has to do. It’s gorgeous, to the point it makes me cry. If Davey is eating a banana, she wants one, I can tell by the screwed up facial expressions and the gagging that she can’t stand them, but she doesn’t take her eyes off of him eating it and she copies his every move. He’s brilliant with her and has taught her so much: not always good things, but that’s a part of growing up. I couldn’t be prouder of them both.

We have definitely noticed a big change in Davey… he’s growing up so much. I think he actually thinks he is an adult sometimes. The way he talks and the stuff he comes out with. I guess it’s from being with us so often now. For example.. Cleo, being the lovely little lady she is, farted the other day… she always says ‘Cleo Fart!’ and laughs. It smelt pretty bad… I said ‘Oh Cleo that stinks!’ Davey rolls his eyes, turns around and says ‘Maybe that’s what started the Coronavirus’
Who is he?! Where does he get this stuff? He’s 4!
 
“I don’t love you!”

We had the “I don’t love you!” door slam a few weeks ago. We were in bed in the morning and Davey asked if he could play on his iPad. I said we are going down for breakfast. He huffs, stomps to the door, shouts “well I don’t love you!”, walks out and shuts our bedroom door. Me and Dave literally didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. We sat there in shock just blankly staring at each other. Then we started to nervously laugh. WTF just happened?? Where did this 14 year old come from?! We left it. The poor boy came back in 10 mins later crying saying he didn’t mean it and that he just really wanted to play his ipad. It must have been a really important game. I get a bit like that when I haven’t been on Instagram for 10 mins.

There have been some massive changes for Davey in all this. He hasn’t seen his friends in goodness knows how long now – effectively we are his friends, his teachers and his parents. We are trying to be everything. And it’s hard! Anyone who says otherwise is lying or drunk. I just hope when all this is over that he turns back into a little boy… because no one wants to hear a 4 year old shouting across the playground “Mummy, Cleo is eating fucking stones again!” – that was my bad.

One massive achievement and memory he will always have from this lockdown is that he learnt to ride his big-boy bike. No stabiliser, no help: just him and his bike. And he was loving life! He was so proud of himself and we were all so, so proud of him.

‘Exercise’…

So Dave bought a spinning bike at the start of lockdown and he goes off for his 1/2 hour of riding every day, I see it as an escape and some MORE peace and quiet. Bit like that toilet break that takes him 45 mins?! What do men do in there?! So I thought right! I’ll do it too. I’ll get fit for the first time in my life. This lockdown is gonna be good for me, I’ve got loads of time so I’ll use it, and it will give me a bit of time to myself and not hearing the word ‘mummy’ for at least 2 mins would be quite nice.
 
Day 1 – I get on the bike feeling really good about what I’m about to do. I start pedalling and I’m thinking I can do this. ‘It’s really quite uncomfortable on my bum but don’t think about that, think about all the calories you’re burning. Yep, that’s really not very comfortable. Kat you’ve got this…’ I’m struggling, I’ve done 3 mins. I can’t be arsed. I tried. I pick up my phone and sit on Instagram for half an hour looking for play ideas occasionally pushing the pedal round. Maybe I could just do this once a day. Say I’m going for a ride and hide upstairs for half an hour! 

I had so many plans at the start of lock down.. I’m gonna get fit. Now’s the time to do it! I’m going to get out for my 1 hour exercise a day and I’ll lose that extra 7lbs of belly/thigh/bum fat that always uninvitingly hangs around. We were basically on rations at the start anyway as we didn’t want to go to the shops, and getting a delivery slot was like winning the lottery! Staying up until midnight to log on and try to grab one! 

My neighbours must think we are mad. We have been able to get a few grocery deliveries once every two weeks. So for a family of four and buying for my dad, Dave’s dad, sometimes his sister, the neighbours either side that are self-isolating and the cat over the road. It’s a lot of fucking food! I stand there and wash the lot before it comes into my house. I’m taking no chances! Sometimes I’m there for an hour and in my bikini if it’s hot and I’m rudely interrupted from sunning myself in the back garden. 

Talking of deliveries, my friends keep dropping brownies, cookies, cakes and alcohol to my door. I know you’re on furlough, have no kids, clean houses and nothing else to do with your time right now but cook….man I envy you. They are great friends and great cooks but it’s really not helping my diet. It’s like a bad cycle. Me and the kids eat the cake, the kids go mental on the sugar high and stress me out, I think ‘sod it, I’m eating the cake. That will make me feel a little better!!’ So as great as your sweet treats are, thank you for helping me gain 10lbs. I now have to hold my tits as I run down the stairs, because nobody wears a bra in lockdown right?

So needless to say I’m still telling myself every Monday this is the week I’ll change the way I eat and do some exercise.. come Tuesday I’m eating a cookie.

“Another fucking delivery?”

The one constant of lockdown has been Amazon, who pretty much deliver to my house every day. I see the van pull up and I’m so excited! I silently glide across the floor to the front door to beat him ringing the bell so Dave upstairs doesn’t hear the door. “Another fucking delivery?” “No darling, it’s the postman with a few letters” and I run my packages into the bar so he’ll never know!

Again I have to disinfect it and the contents: you just never know where this potentially corona-ridden package has come from! On the plus side I have lots of boxes that have come in very useful for our activities! Again, all hiding in the bar.

The same bar that every Saturday, my husband gets absolutely shit faced in with his mates on Zoom and comes to bed at 3am. It’s become a bit of a thing now. He used to complain that he never went out. Well now look at you, out every weekend! That counts right? In this day and age it does. Everyone is happy. You’re seeing your mates, I know where you are, there are no other women around, and I don’t mind what time you get in. It’s perfect!
 
But If he thinks he’s getting lucky he’s got another thing coming! No lockdown babies here! In fact I’m doing the opposite. I’ve got my 3rd child now.. it’s my Instagram and even that’s growing too fast 😉 

Anyway, to my final, and perhaps most important observation from lockdown:

And lastly, inconvenient poos

Have you ever noticed the timing of your kids poo? It’s always lunchtime… well my lunch time… 3.00pm. When everyone else is fed and watered. I’ve spent a good 15 mins preparing this almighty sandwich; I’m talking cheese, ham, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo. I’ve been looking forward to this since 12.00. I sit down with a nice cold drink, go to take a bite…. ‘MUM!!!!!’ I try to ignore it, maybe Dave will answer, who am I kidding… ‘MUMMY!!…. I’ve done a poo! Can you wipe my bum!’

No words. They are too rude to write.

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Kat has an ever growing Instagram account where you can keep up to date with what Cleo is shoving in her mouth but more importantly where you can get inspiration for how to entertain your little ones through play during these crazy, crazy times.

Follow her @kids_play_learn_laugh


 

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