At the beginning of the first lockdown I was optimistic. Armed with a tonne of online resources, a mountain of playdoh and gazillion zoom sessions, I was ready for the three month “stay at home” calling. But I really wasn’t. Firstly, It didn’t exist within some self-limiting bubble of three months. By the time the lockdown had officially been ‘relaxed’ we had to shield Elias. Secondly, the scary Mirror stories surrounding COVID in pregnancy were too much. At one point, you could definitely cut the anxiety in the air with a knife in our home.
Living in a two bed flat, it’s easy to feel like the walls are caving in on you, but lockdown really put the ‘cabin’ in cabin fever. I felt like a tiger in a cage. I can safely say it was and still is to some degree shit. I don’t want to ever have to do this again, just like the most of us who haven’t yet been driven to doomsday prepping. That’s all well and good, but our little humans have no clue what’s going on in the world.
To a point, that’s a blessing. I mean no one is going to look back fondly on having to wade through Boris’s delusional spew every tea time or having to fight Karen for the last pack of loo roll…Least of all remember how the virus ripped society to the Seams. But at least we know this is not normal. I could excuse the first three months of lockdown One as a write off when it came to how it would affect my daughter. But we are now facing a Hotel California effect of what feels like rolling lockdowns. With Arielle now 2.5, the Mum-Guilt is really starting to set in…hard.
M is for Mum-Guilt
The tantrums picked up. It was constant screaming, followed by a hurricane of toys being whirled around. It was inconsolable crying every single time our 3 month old cried. The night time wake ups kicked off again and my easy-going daughter became angry. Something was off. I put it down to a whole host of things, but in the end I had to accept that she just wasn’t getting what she needed to from life for now. It sucked. I had tried to make things more exciting – bought a tuff tray and filled a cupboard full of glitter and all sorts. But after Elias was born, I was spending full days away in hopsital. When all that was over, I was desperately trying re-establish the bond with Elias and keep the breastfeeding fire burning. Mental health became a serious problem. Parenting duties fell all too neatly between James and I- Elias with me and Arielle with him. When James’s workload suddenly picked up I realised I had failed. I had tried, but not hard enough with Arielle. Now I had to rebuild the lost connection.
M is for Mud
Rather than dwelling on what she was missing out on, I started trying to make the most of what was available to us. Outdoor space. We spent weekends at country parks and other places. I was quite uptight at first – scrambling to peel the mud off all of us in a race to the front door. I’ve let go a little now though. I accept that at least one child might be soaked- from puddle water or urine and I just get over it. We play hide and seek in the spaces set out by the trees. We go old school, collecting acorns, pine cones, twigs, oak leaves- what have you. I have never been a tree hugger but damn, you really can’t put a price on being out in nature. There’s something really refreshing about bringing it back to basics, and Arielle loves it.
M is for Mcdonalds
Another thing that I’m afraid to say we discovered during all of this mess is McDonalds. I’m a big fan of everything in moderation but we really took the piss. Healthy and wholesome trips to the great outdoors were almost always followed by a counterproductive trip to the big MC. We’d always get her something small, but it was enough for her to incorporate it into her imaginative play: “Come on Mummy, I’m driving you to McDonald’s” armed with Duplo steering wheel in hand. I felt bad.
We’ve reined the habit in a bit now. We still go, but not as much and it’s now seen as a treat rather than some place we go whenever we leave the flat. The car however is heavily decorated with McDonald’s paraphernalia and crusty mud- Mud-encrusted McDonald’s bags are a common feature.
We’re slowly getting into the swing of things as the second lockdown comes to an end, but I am constantly reminded that this CANNOT go on forever and just how much it can damage the children if it is allowed to. It would be a lie to say it’s all been bad- there have been some truly awesome times. There have so been some really really really shit times. The really good thing about having crap times is that it really put everything into perspective for me. I’ve muted all the Hinch Army Facebook groups- my place isn’t fastidiously clean anymore. As I write this my hair is falling out in clumps and holding onto an extra kilogram is the last thing on my mind