Parenting in a pandemic: 13 thoughts, three months in
Here are 13 thoughts on parenting in a pandemic, three – and more – months in…
Firstly, how are you? How are you doing, really?
And secondly, if you’d told us all on 1st January 2020 that we’d be spending much of the upcoming year on lockdown, parenting in a pandemic, I’m not sure anyone would have believed it, would we?
Coronavirus, lockdown and the UK school closures have been an unexpected experience that’s been very different in lots of ways and identical in lots of others for everyone, I’d imagine. It’s a time where each day you feel all the emotions, despite being safe at home, where everything has changed yet is exactly the same, on repeat.
With the UK Coronavirus lockdown now lessening even more, it seemed like a good time to write the post about pandemic parenting I’ve been failing to write for three / four or so months. I never meant to be finishing this so far on, but it all of it all just kind of…happened, didn’t it?
Even though things now are unrecognisably different to how they were in March. And probably unrecognizable to how they were even two short weeks ago…
Here are 13 thoughts on pandemic parenting;
It’s made us realise how lucky we are
We know we are lucky in lots of ways, but nothing’s made us recognise how privileged we are than pandemic parenting and having access to the basic things our family has that lots of others do not. Like having a house, with a garden, access to a park for walks and exercise, being to get hold of enough food, and jobs that we can do easily from home. And being safe and healthy.
Children react to the unexpected in a lot of unexpected ways
While we didn’t over-expose our two to the news, at eight and five they were aware of Coronavirus, we discussed it with them and they talked about it at school (the days of ‘wash your hands to Happy Birthday x2’ seem years away, and the post I wrote on how to talk to your kids about Coronavirus is now oddly quaint).
As a parent you want protect your children, but it’s hard for them not to be aware of the significance of what’s going on when there are such big changes. We’re all at home! They’re not at school!
It had a noticeable impact where lots of little things became big things, with all the emotions.
And while it was a novelty to be home at first, they wouldn’t even step outside the front door for weeks because ‘that’s where the virus is.’
I’ve seen a lot of people say that children will only remember the good bits, but I think for a lot of children this might be optimistic and simplistic. Happy to hopefully be proven wrong, though.
Childcare and work is an impossible juggle
It’s practically impossible to look after children and work at the same time. You just can’t do both, well. I’ve only been able to work from home for the past eight years due to access to childcare and school.
And then, the schools closed, and we went into lockdown.
In what are surely familiar scenes across the world for working parents, me and Alex have tried to fit work around our attempts at kitchen table home-schooling and looking after the children. There has been a lot of Zoom-bombing.
But due to the fact I’m a freelancer, with a significantly reduced workload at the moment, who doesn’t have a 9-5-at-my-desk-job, I’ve been mainly working in the evening and weekends and whenever I can (which seems in line with lots of other women).
And I’m so lucky, and grateful, that we’ve been able to do this considering the crisis. But I’ve had to just not do a lot of stuff too. Like writing blog posts. And it’s still been a struggle, leaving no headspace for anything else other than half-watching TV with wine before not sleep brilliantly.
Hats off to all of us managing it, and more.
There are good bits
There have been many moments to remember, the main one being spending so much time together when commutes and clubs and normal daily life means we usually can’t.
And I do NOT miss the frantic, last-minute stresses of the school run dash every morning. Life is a lot more relaxing when you’re not shouting ‘Shoes! Teeth! Get your tie out from behind the TV!’ on repeat when you’ve just woken up…
…I just wish these didn’t all happen for the reasons they happened though.
It’s been emotional
Usually, all the emotions, all at once, from everyone. Mainly, me! It’s really hard to be a patient parent when you’re overwhelmed, anxious and stressed, isn’t it? Especially when someone’s kicking off because someone looked at their ‘favourite shoulder’. But as I frequently tell my children and both their shoulders, we are all only human.
PS. How unfair it is to have PMT during a pandemic?!
And parenting in a pandemic is exhausting
I mean, who would have thought?
Lockdown hobbies aren’t really a thing when you have children
I’ve not read piles of books or become a sourdough master. I’ve not read one book. I’ve not even watched Normal People yet. I know!
I have however made a lot of snacks. I’ve tidied up a lot and then did it all again. I’m best friends and mortal enemies with the dishwasher. We’ve had a lot of hugs. There has been a lot of crafting and printing of colouring sheets. I’ve looked at my phone a lot. Does that count?
Don’t worry if all you did was get by, that’s more than enough.
Teachers are heroes
Anyone else’s children talk a LOT? Asking for, well…What the lockdown has really brought home is how great teachers are for coping with so many kids at once, all talking at top volume, and still teach them so many wonderful things in such a short space of time.
In comparison, at our home-school, my pupils won’t sit down for longer than two seconds unless I’m practically sat on them. And one of them loves crafts but runs to the furthest point of the house at the slightest sign of a worksheet.
Home-schooling is not for us…
With even basic year 3 maths giving me the fear, and motivation now being a challenge for all of us in this non-school environment, I’m looking forward to handing the academics back over to their actual teachers.
And on that note, how are hard are fractions? For me, not them.
However, we’ve learned a lot
We have, however, focused on finding out about a lot of other things, from Black Lives Matter and Windrush through to the lyrics and background of Hamilton, and how to score megastar on Just Dance. We’ve done a lot of cooking, colouring, crafts and Cosmic Kids Yoga. We’ve watched all the Marvel movies in order and watched MasterChef about two months late without finding out who won. I’ve drunk a lot of wine. And while you can’t take a GCSE in Animal Crossing, sadly, I think all of this is important stuff.
Screen time is our friend and that’s OK
We’ve had a lot of screen time and you know what? It’s fine. Aside from all the online school learning apps, we’ve had screen time because the children need a rest. Or I need a rest. Or for fun. And ultimately because, it’s OK. I don’t think now, or any other time is the time to have yourself or anyone else make you feel guilty about it.
We’re all just doing our best…
…Trying to make it through another Groundhog Day in the best way we all can.
It’s all been very, very surreal
It didn’t really seem real at the time, and it seems odd looking back. We’ve missed our friends and family, not seen our newest niece and had my big birthday trip cancelled. We’ve not been able to go to help when my mum had a bad accident and then see my dad when he was seriously ill (he is, inexplicably, getting better). We’ve watched the national and global news unfold in horror. I’ve made a million snacks, and more. The printer is exhausted. But we’re OK, and healthy, and who knows what’s coming next.
You can also read my post on what it’s like having a baby in Coronavirus lockdown… And I’ve been sharing more on Instagram, so make sure you follow me there – I’m Gill_Crawshaw