For the most part I quite enjoy it. I love that we have no unexpected visitors, no one trying to sign me up to one charity or another. I can keep in touch with the people I like from afar without expectation and I get to avoid all the daily playground politics. We mostly get on wonderfully and I love this little pocket of ‘us’ in the universe.
Every now and then though I find myself so completely overwhelmed by the whole situation, I’m just not coping with this change.
It’s not so much the kids and Rory being around, I love that.
It’s that I can’t get a minute to myself -not one – and I’m sure I’m not alone in this.
I imagine in households up and down the land there is one or other person feeling the exact same way as me but I can only speak from my experience.
Rory has the luxury of working upstairs, obviously the working aspect is no fun but he gets to do it upstairs.
I stay downstairs with the kids who decide they prefer life with structure and a bit of learning. I’ll be honest, I went into this with the aim of them staying on top of their work, having a routine and using their brains. This aim has now been paired back to ‘surviving the day’.
Initially I found myself envying those social media mums who were bossing it – undertaking a different daily art project while building a fully functioning lab in their living room where their kids would use any downtime to find a cure for Coronavirus.
If that works for them then GREAT, however I realise I am not in a position to teach my kids anything. Instead I try to keep them busy enough that:
They feel mentally stimulated.
I feel less guilt.
They don’t start arguing about who stared at who.
Doing any work isn’t even an option for me, if my laptop isn’t being used for ‘educational reasons’ it’s being used to stream Disney+ (yes, we caved)
I sometimes I find myself starting to get jealous when I hear Rory on work phone calls. Talking to other ‘not in this house’ people who don’t demand food at regular intervals. Normally I am so very OK with not talking to people, I can happily avoid people for days but now I’m jealous.
Don’t get me wrong, I am spoken at a lot during the day.
I am told to listen and to watch. I have to endure jokes and fact and tales told about one another. If I appear to be paying less than 100% attention I am tapped until my full and focused attention is there.
I find myself completely overwhelmed, it’s like I can’t breathe and I can’t get away.
We’re currently still allowed to exercise once a day. Rory will go for a nice long run whereas my daily exercise is a walk – with the kids. There’s no scope for a daydream or chance to let my thoughts just run away for a while. There’s no pausing to listen to birdsong, my exercise time is spent doing laps of the green hearing my kids yell at me to watch which lap they’re on now.
When Rory comes down for lunch he sends me upstairs for half hour which is lovely and much appreciated but I’m constantly aware the longer he is downstairs the later he will have to work into the evening and the longer I’ll be alone with the kids.
It really doesn’t help that all this is occurring while I’m officially still recovering from my hip replacement. I feel like I’ve been in lock down for 8 weeks already. I am still dependent on people, I can’t do face to face post op meetings which is a little weird. I have one chair I’m allowed to sit on, I still rely on people to pick things up for me. I can’t even curl up on the couch and get comfy when I’m feeling overwhelmed, instead I have to do it in a high backed chair generally with the kids around.
I try to set up all the activities they ask for – painting/internet/a film in a hope for half an hour’s peace but no. There’s always an element of Anna participation required whether it’s cleaning spilled paint, needing to be an extra player in a game or just refereeing round four of the classic ‘He’s too close but she’s in my spot’.
I absolutely love and adore my kids and before you say it ‘Barbara’, I know I’m lucky to have them. I know these times are short lived and that they’re only young for a small amount of time. No doubt I WILL be yearning for these days in years to come but that doesn’t make my NOW easier.
That doesn’t give me the space to breathe now.
That little gem of wisdom doesn’t give me the opportunity to take five minutes to clear my head and be the best mum I can be for them now.
The funny thing is, I do have more fantastic days then I do overwhelmed days but it’s the latter that feel most prominent and I’m sure that many of you can relate – unless you’re the one with the lab in front of your couch.
We just need to remind ourselves it WILL be over soon, we WILL get through it and our kids will still love us at the end of it all.
Most importantly we must remember it’s OK to feel overwhelmed, it’s important to talk about it and it’s vital that you just do what works for you.