I don’t know about you, but scrolling through social media is starting to pile on the pressure to be a bloody supermum during lockdown, isn’t it?
It’s actually starting to get to me a bit – realising that I can’t keep up with all those happy, smiley, family quarantine days I keep seeing people sharing.
I get it, that’s what people do on social media, share the best bits – and for obvious reasons I am quite partial to a bit (a lot) of social media. But when you feel everyone is nailing it whilst working from home during lockdown, doesn’t it make you realise how much you’re, er, not?
I know we are all capable of doing our own thing, and I’d like to think I wouldn’t get sucked into the whole comparison thing. But it’s bloody hard not to think you’re totally failing at it all some days.
Stop with the loving lockdown life pictures
I mean, if I see one more pic of a four year old doing Joe Wicks, followed by some random DIY creation in the garden with Daddy, baking cakes on a daily basis, endless bloody craft projects, and totally blitzing the home learning with exciting and creative ways to learn the f*cking sound ‘ar’ I think I might scream.
Because let’s face it, a lot of us aren’t doing all that stuff. And not necessarily because we don’t want to – but because it’s too damn HARD! Some of us are trying really hard to not feel down.
If you’re like me, you would have started off with the best of intentions when they announced the schools were going to close. In my part of the country we had just a week to get through until the Easter holidays and we were going to be AMAZING at it all.
I went to Hobby Craft, Poundland, The Works, ordered a load of shite online – I WAS PREPARED! I bought work books, colouring books, sticker books, scrap books, a load of other types of damn books. Seeds to plant, jigsaws to make, fancy craft materials. I even bought paints. If you know me AT ALL you may not actually believe that last bit. I am not that mum. But it’s true.
Mind you, it took four weeks of lockdown for me to actually get them out of the box and use them. An hour later I vowed I would never be so stupid again, however long we’re stuck at home. I just don’t GET how people enjoy that kind of shizzle.
I fully intended to nail lockdown learning
I was going to be an AWESOME homeschooler. The four year old would lap up all the learning I’d be providing him with, enjoying spending time learning with Mummy. I printed off fun-looking worksheets after worksheets. Saving any type of (albeit easy) idea I came across online to a special ‘home learning’ album on my phone, and joined ALL the “activities in lockdown” type groups on Facebook. (I’ve since left most of them btw).
God damn, I even bought a sodding lever arch file, plastic pocket type thingys, dividers, and highlighters for all the home learning. I tell you, I was going to WIN at this shit.
I was going to get up at the same time as usual, I’d do my hair and make-up as normal, everyone would be dressed and fed ready as if we were about to go on the school run. The only difference would be me not shouting GET YOUR SHOES ON approximately 37 times.
Then there was the slight hiccup of getting a chest infection and feeling like absolute SHITE for the first 3 weeks of lockdown that scuppered my supermum plans. Talk about crap timing.
We started off well. Kind of.
Nevertheless we started off with Joe Wicks at 9am that first day of school closure. The teachers suggested it, our friends suggested it, Facebook suggested it, the whole world suggested it. So obviously we had to do it.
I’m not sure about you, but we lasted two days before we sacked it off. Sorry Joe, but you’re too damn hardcore to capture the imagination of my four year old – let alone his two year old twin brothers.
They pranced about in the lounge for roughly 3 minutes 42 seconds before it all turned into one massive fight. With me shouting at them for messing about, threatening to tell the four year old’s teachers, that they MUST do the exercise, afraid that if they didn’t do this 30 minute workout they will be classed as obese the second they get back to school. And that everyone would blame me.
Oh and what about all the PARENTS in their gym gear showing off that they were doing it too? Pleeeeease! I stood (to show encouragement) there in my jeans and slippers, with absolutely no intention of moving a muscle – partly because if I attempted it my chest might actually explode. And partly because, well, I couldn’t be arsed. I’ve not been to an exercise class in about 5 years. I’m not about to start now surrounded by three kids trying to kick the shit out of each other, whilst Joe tells us that ‘Callum and Sally from Dubai’ are tuning in.
We then did a few days of Cosmic Yoga with its random storytelling and even more random special effects. It was marginally better than Joe Wicks but still resulted in scrapping. Or a lot of just lying on the floor. So we sacked that off too. It dawned on me that my four year old doesn’t do PE every day at school, so why was I trying to force him into doing it at home? We’ve got a big garden, they run around in it for hours on end. Let alone the amount of time they chase each other around the house trying to bash one another over the head with a toy. That’s enough for me. And for them.
Onto the ‘homeschooling’. I printed off the suggested timetable sent by the school, the learning grid of all the activity ideas to do, and I was going to tick them off daily. Hell, no – TWICE daily. Along with the phonics You Tube video we had to watch at 10am every day, the writing practice, the daily challenge the teachers sent us, the ‘permitted’ screen time for the maths and phonics apps, the reading, and the online school storytime.
I was fully up for lockdown home learning. Honest.
Honestly, I was UP for it. Well, in my mind I was. The chest infection was kind of hindering the actual body’s willingness to co-operate quite so enthusiastically. (I’m guessing sticking Blippi on You Tube at 10am then promptly falling asleep on the sofa for 20 minutes whilst they watched it, might not be classed as ‘up for it’.)
I was grateful our lovely school was being so supportive and setting us things to do, and that I wasn’t just flailing around in the dark wondering how the hell to teach my son the slightest bit of ANYTHING. The three foundation teachers have been amazing, and even read them a story every day throughout the holidays.
So it would all be okay. Totally fine.
Lockdown emotions can change like the wind
At first my whole attitude to the school closure thing would swing from one extreme to the other. One minute I’d tell myself not to stress about any of it, he’s only four, how much could he possibly miss in a term, that he couldn’t catch up on. Let’s just have fun. (Although I’ve never quite got to the ‘making memories’ stage. It’s just not me).
Then the next minute I’d be in a total panic that he would be the only one starting Year One not knowing how to read the sound ‘igh’ or know the difference between ‘oo’ and ‘oo’.
Now it’s somewhere completely different. It’s in the place called DO WHAT YOU CAN.
Toddler twins scupper all good plans
And the main reason for this change comes in the form of two two year olds, affectionately known on here as Twin One and Twin Two.
Not so affectionately known in real life as absolute bloody vandals. And the fact the Other Half, although working from home, has been locked away in his office for 10 hours a day – often only emerging when he hears so much shouting (from me) to check a murder hasn’t taken place.
How I ever thought I’d be able to do any quality one-on-one learning with the four year old, without that pair being a MASSIVE pain in the arse, is beyond me. What was I even thinking?
Two year olds are hard work. We all know this. Possibly not as hard work as three year olds from memory, but they are challenging at times, no?
TWO two year olds are even harder work. Obviously. If they are not hitting, pushing or scratching each other, they are in cahoots together and getting up to all sorts of shit. The shit that happens when you’re trying to help your eldest child learn to read.
Getting up to no good – most of the time
The sort of shit that involves doing this to your face when Mummy’s back is turned.
I fear I am not practising what I’m preaching. Half of the activities I’ve tried with them have been disastrous – and that’s when I’m sitting with them. Clearly there’s no way I’m going to let them loose with arts and craft stuff on their own!
I’ve set them up with games, jigsaws, the train set, stickers, bubbles, play doh, cars, duplo, blah blah blah. All things they could potentially just sit quietly and get on with.
All hell breaks loose in lockdown very quickly
If I get five minutes before all hell breaks loose, I’m doing well. Last week Twin One walked into the kitchen during the phonics video, having taken his trousers and nappy off, dancing around shouting ‘willy, willy, willy’ in hysterics. Waving his willy around like he was some sort of bad 80s porn star. I suppose I should be grateful it wasn’t into the Other Half’s office whilst he was on a conference call.
Twin Two’s favourite thing (other than unravelling toilet rolls) is to distribute Lego around the house. And to get hold of any colouring materials possible. The pack of 45 new colouring pencils I bought? Let’s see how many rooms I can spread them around. The crayons? Let’s peel off all the paper, draw all over the playroom floor, the lounge door, then snap them in half. The felt tips? You know the story there. Anything vaguely damaging is now locked away in our spare downstairs bedroom.
And when I say locked. I literally mean locked. We had to put a lock on the door to stop them getting in and trashing the room about 6 months ago. The same with the Other Half’s office. FFS, we have to LOCK two rooms in our house to stop them going on a wrecking spree! Quarantine was never going to be simple with this pair.
I’ve given in to the easy option
So after much trial and error, lots of shouting and a fair few tears (from them AND me) I’ve decided there’s only one thing for it.
Blippi on You Tube.
For 45 minutes every morning, I’ve given up trying to keep them entertained, out of trouble, and out of the way. I’ve stopped attempting to be supermum – and I’ve stuck them in front of the tele. As it’s the only way they’ll sit still and partially quiet (there are still fights but I’m adopting the survival of the fittest attitude and ignoring them).
And if they’re not happy to play in the garden in the afternoon whilst round two of ‘home learning’ kicks in, I do the same. Although usually it’s Hey Duggee by then as I’m fully aware from experience that Blippi will soon have them saying ‘trash’ for bin and ‘garbage’ for rubbish. Which I’m not particularly okay with.
Lockdown mum guilt
Up until a week ago I had ALL the mum guilt over not spending enough time with them. Not doing enough meaningful activities with them. Not trying harder to find something that would engage them whilst I did learning with the four year old. I felt guilty for leaving them to their own devices so much – even though I knew they didn’t give a toss.
I even cried over it. Quite a lot. And drank wine.
A week later my mindset has changed, and I’m sure it’s in backlash to seeing all these damn perfect pictures on facebook and Instagram. Arts and crafts in the garden? Er, no thanks. Beautiful woodland or coastal walks? If I could get my twins to walk for longer than 20 minutes without a pavement protest I’d be happy. Taking up new crafts or hobbies because you’ve got so much time on your hands? Oh. My. Fucking. God.
I’ve come to the conclusion there’s no point in trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing. It just sets you up to fail. What is it they say? Comparison is the thief of joy, or something like that. Although I am 110% sure the other side of those people’s perfect pics, is a reality which isn’t quite so rosy.
Recipe for disaster
If I can manage to do an hour’s learning (not in one go but throughout the day!) I think I’m doing okay at the moment. My four year old is becoming less and less interested in doing any, and while that actually makes me more and more determined that he should do it, it’s basically a recipe for disaster.
Last week he properly, properly cried two minutes into the phonics video because he ‘hates’ it. Hardly a great situation for him to learn in. He thinks his maths app set by the school is ‘boring’ (I kind of agree tbh), so I sometimes let him off that too. He drew a Happy Birthday poster for Captain Thomas Moore, set by his teacher, and that was it on one particular day. And whinged most of the way through it.
I’m determined to help him do more learning but in the whole grand scheme of things, is it the end of the world if he does sod all? He’s four years old. FOUR years old. If he had been born 2.5 months later he wouldn’t have even started school yet. All he wants to do is build Lego, Mobilo robots, play with his transformers and mess about in the garden. And I can’t blame him to be honest. Plus it’s damn hard when your little brothers want to get involved in everything. Often ending in tears all round.
Who is best off in lockdown?
I wonder if there’s a ‘good’ position to be in during this lockdown? One week in and I was insanely jealous of childless couples who had all the time in the world to do whatever they wanted. Sit around reading books, watch Netflix, take up crochet, go out for runs, actually wash their hair.
But I’m hardly in the worst position in the world. For a start, I’m not trying to work full time from home, whilst attempting to help my children do school work. Some people are trying to work full time whilst homeschooling three or four kids in lockdown! Now THAT is hardcore.
And what about all the amazing keyworkers, who let’s face it, are holding this bloody world together right now. They have much more important things to worry about than whether their two year old watched an episode of Blippi. You are all incredible. And totally put my selfish whining into perspective.
Stop comparing – do what you can
So I’ve decided to stick with the DO WHAT YOU CAN theory. Some of the people on my facebook feed are having the time of their lives. (They generally don’t have toddlers though. Or more than one child come to think of it). Some are on the verge of being ‘unfollowed’ because of their ‘Day 25…’ daily accounts of all the amazing things they’ve done and achieved. BORE OFF!! And I wonder about the ones that aren’t posting anything at all. How are they doing?
Thank God I have certain mum mates who I can send sweary texts to, usually along the lines of WTF??
Oh but while you’re here, have a look at these. My ONE AND ONLY attempt at arts and crafts. And the easiest thing I could find with all the toilet rolls I’d been saving in an attempt to be ‘that’ mum and do something exciting with them.
It was the worst hour of the whole lockdown. Spot the one that got dunked in my pint of blackcurrant squash before he grew legs. Twin Two again. And no, I’ve not posted these on facebook to show off my creative skills funnily enough.
It seems I’m not THAT mum. And that’s okay. Especially during lockdown. If I make it through to 5pm to crack open the wine, it’s been an okay kind of day.
I hope for everyone who is feeling the same, you at least have alcohol or chocolate. Preferably both in good supply.
How did I do?
If you enjoyed this post, why not have a read of some of my other Mum Life rants. And if you need some help keeping sane with either entertaining toddlers during lockdown, ideas for activities for preschoolers and primary aged kids, or useful homeschooling websites, I’ve written a few other posts.
If you like a bit of social media madness, pop over to my Facebook page where you’ll be able to have a laugh at what ridiculousness goes on in my house with three very small boys on a daily basis. Warning – there is often sarcasm, and usually swearing. There are also great travel reviews and some AWESOME giveaways. Feel free to join my Twins, Tantrums and Cold Coffee – Shits and Giggles Parenting Group too, where everyone shares their hilarious stories.
And if you want to work with me, feel free to give me a shout here or at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get back to you.