Sometimes I fear for my life, not because of the virus, but due to the demands of my brood.
I’ve turned into a mid-19th century maid, bowing my head and tilting my imaginary cap, muttering under my breath ‘yes master, yes miss’ in fear of the repercussions if I don’t fulfil their demands within a matter of seconds.
The repetitiveness of each day is taking its toll. Little things are becoming big issues.
I’ve learnt cheese is no longer acceptable cut into cubes, it has to be slices, I dare not overcook pizza or chips – a stable diet of ours at the moment, quick easy and ‘fresh’ from the freezer. I am literally a snack servant for five mini-humans, and when I say snack, it roughly translates as 24 hours of constant munching.
Thank God for Joe Wicks the online PE guru who puts us through our paces every morning at 9am. A good looking body coach, who makes us all feel very unfit and inadequate. We, as a family, managed to join this live online phenomenon, er, twice.
After the first week or so on lockdown, we have all become tired and lazy. My dressing gown has become my best friend – simple.
Joe Wicks would be lucky if we even had one eye open at 9am, let alone up, all dressed in lycra, jumping around the living room, tearing muscles we didn’t know we had while trying to not knock ourselves out on the far too close furniture.
My oldest two offspring are the worse: Cov19 has turned them into slugs, only coming out of their dark hole for food, barely seeing the light of day, up all night leaving a trail of crumbs, empty crisp packets and abandoned half-drunk cups of tea around the house for me to discover in the morning after cavorting online all night with other types of said nocturnal teen age beings.
And the home schooling…don’t get me started.
All I can say is, I tried, I tried again, and again, and again…and I failed. It’s safe to say I certainly did not miss my calling as a Teacher; my father was one for around 30 years and I have a new found respect for you, Dad! Trying to motivate five kids to sit down and ‘work’ from five varying year groups, I’d rather have a root canal.
I must have had around 357 texts and e-mails about what to do, what platform to access, how to show the work on line, log on here, then attach this, please join our class, show my homework, here’s you new user ID, TT rockstars, class dojo, purple mash, remote learning, online support for parents.. and so I go on.
I am only just coping with the amount of laundry and housework the brood create being home 24/7, let alone having to ‘teach them’. I’m pulling my hair out, I never sit down, (who needs Joe to stay fit when you have five kids) there is always hoovering to do, tantrums to calm, arguments to level, soggy biscuits to scrape off the floor, piles of discarded towels or undergarments to be carefully picked up and washed.
Shopping, another stressful time. Seeing as I’m not in the vulnerable category, I can’t get a delivery slot until August 3rd 2025! When I do need to venture out into the unknown, it’s like getting ready to go into outta space or off to perform a frontal lobotomy: I don my mask, gloves, hand gel, bank card and four bags for life, folded into perfect squares – which is a new talent of mine I didn’t know I had. Pre-lockdown, bags were just shoved in a box, now they are all neatly folded,
Also shops don’t like cash as I discovered when handing over a £20 note two weeks ago. The cashier looked at me like I was the devil – a look I never want to see again.
While out shopping I remembered my roots are showing – a lot! I don’t remember what my natural hair colour actually is; I was surprised to see that’s its actually an acceptable shade of light brown, none the less. I broke the rules and purchased a hair dye, non-essential shopping that makes me a bad person. I happily dyed away the real me once again, along with my neck and parts of my ears, which are now a nice shade of mahogany red; my skin will shed soon, it’s not a problem.
My children’s hair is also growing. For the girls it’s not a problem but for the boys, it is. They have a certain barber they used to regularly visit and they love their barber and how he does it. They do not love their mum when she shouts, “I’ve found the clippers, boys, come on downstairs for a hair cut”. They arrive at the bottom of the stairs, pale and shaking a little from what I remember. It was a bit of a blur of panic, a million questions and instructions on how ‘Jake’ does it.. Well, I’m not Jake, I’m not trained, and I’m as nervous as they are. After a couple of youtube tutorials, I did their hair, and, as I’m able to write this, you will see I am still alive. So the outcome was acceptable..ish.
As much as this situation has made me find a new love for my children, seeing tiny things in them I’ve never noticed before, it has also taught me I really have no patience at all. It is ok to not like your children sometimes; it is ok to cook the same dinner three times in a week, as it’s all you’ve got in the freezer.
Its taught me that we actually only use one toilet roll a day, in a house of 6, not bad going that!! It has taught me I do have an imagination, entertaining a three and four-year old all day, everyday.
I take comfort in knowing I’m not the only mum struggling with, well, everything. I get up feeling positive, plan to do lots around the house, then spend most of the day, telling my kids to ‘not do that, please, we cant go to hospital at the moment’, or I follow them around tidying up the trail of devastation they leave. My house is not my home; it’s a four-walled bundle of mess and stress.
It’s tough, we are all in the same storm, but sailing it differently. Some are in a boat on their own lonely, some are in a boat that’s overcrowded, some swim to shore to risk their lives on a daily basis, then return to their safe boat each night… this storm will pass. Stay strong and support one another.
Our kids future will not be defined nor affected if we cannot complete the schooling tasks. Eating chocolate for breakfast, as Mummy was only allowed to buy two milks and they’ve gone, is ok too.
We are in this together. Stay safe. Stay home. Save lives.