Mindset, Parenting

“Working Mum”: A term never more relevant

Our family, like so, so many are currently on a never-ending treadmill of lockdown working and homeschooling, washing the shopping and snack-providing, stress and anxiety management, and then also the normal stuff too … Like, washing clothes, hoovering as much as can be tolerated and trying to avoid standing on Lego pieces and Hot-Wheels.

There is also a new thing in our house, iPad management. That one is tough – having always been very anti-children-on-tablets in our house. Oh, we also caved and decided to add Disney+ to our arsenal, although I actually think I am the main winner there …

Anyway, I haven’t written a post on here since before the lockdown. A few reasons, partly because I have been feeling my way with everything. I avoided the news for a few weeks as it was just too much, I took social media breaks and also took time to get into the new normal of us all, Noel, me, Sidney and Harriet all being home, altogether, all of the time.

What I want to talk about in this post is how this pandemic and lockdown is becoming more and more politicised as each day goes on. I try to read news that is as unbiased as I can find it, although you will find me naturally migrating towards the left in my choice of sources.

However, this week one thing seems to have absolutely everyone’s backs up, in a way I can only compare to the pressure of breast-feeding vs. bottle-feeding, is whether or not our children should go back to school in June, and then, which children it should be.

Sidney is 5, in Reception, and therefore eligible to go back to school should it be open, and should he be offered a place. I’ll be honest here, there is so much of me that really wants to get him back to school. He gets bored and frustrated at home, and he misses his friends very much. I suspect that at best, he would only be able to go for a couple of days a week (his school is one of the biggest in Shropshire), and depending on the R rating, he may only go for a few weeks before the summer holidays anyway.

Harriet is almost 3 now, although if it wasn’t for her stature, you might take her for a young woman in her mid-twenties, she is that confident. She also needs to get back to a routine of being in a ‘class’ setting, having to wait her turn and behave without screaming every time someone says “no”.

Here is where is gets tricky. Noel is a type1 diabetic, and so technically on the vulnerable list. He is about as healthy as a diabetic person comes, so all the evidence points to his body being able to cope with coronavirus. But, where does that leave us with getting our children back into the wider world? Of course it makes sense that the longer we keep them at home, the safer we are and the more chance there is of that R number going down.

However. Noel and I are both self-employed and currently working in shifts from 7am till 5pm to work and parent, and then work as much as we can when the children are in bed. Most other families will know how utterly exhausting this is. We both have deadlines and as Noel is newly self-employed he doesn’t qualify for any help from the UK government.

Our reality is hard, and honestly I’m not entirely sure how long we can sustain it. My anxiety levels are back up again, after being really good for the first few months of the year, and I’m frightened. Frightened of what will happen to Noel and I if we keep on this treadmill of work/parent/work/parent/work/parent, and also frightened of what may happen if the children go back to school and nursery if one of them unwittingly brings coronavirus home with them.

When you are making this decision for your family, whatever your decision may be, it may not be the same as another family. And that is OK. I still don’t really know what we should do – I have spent the majority of my head-space thinking it over and over for the last week. Please don’t judge me for a decision I am struggling with. Please don’t share newspaper headlines to try and persuade me in any direction. I am doing my best. I am trying to look at the fact-based evidence, and also hoping that the wider community will continue to be sensible and stay home, and social distance.

Even though we are all in this together, at times it feels as though we are never more alone. Last night we watched the 2015 live-action Cinderella on Disney+ which none of us had seen before. I will leave you with Cinderella’s mantra, “Have courage, be kind”.

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