Lockdown with a Toddler… reflections on turbulent times

Jun 15, 2020 | Lockdown 2020

I decided a few days ago that I’d make a scrapbook for my son on our time during the COVID-19 lockdown, but when I went to buy one from eBay, I found 3380462 people already producing them… decorated with fancy fonts and rainbow stickers, of course. I bought one anyway, and still intend to make a record of it to show him in the future; after all, we’re in a pretty unusual time period. But it’s made me consider a little the things I’ve learnt, enjoyed, found frustration in and want to remember in the future too. My record won’t have a glittery rainbow on it or any sellotaped photos, though; I’ll write it here instead.

Lots has happened, and fast. To say the least!

A global pandemic wasn’t exactly the plan I had for summer 2020, but then, who the fuck did?

In the last couple of months, my son has basically learnt to talk, we’ve lost a family member, everything we’ve all ever known about working practices has been turned on its head, the biggest civil rights movement ever has gripped the world, basically every band we’ve ever loved have given us a free concert, people actually appreciate the NHS again, and we’re all wondering what ‘normality’ (if there ever were such a thing) will look like. 

I guess what I’ve taken from all of this is that it all feels, well, historical. This shit is a big deal and it’s something we’ll have to recall and story-tell and discuss with our children. I’m always conscious of being on the ‘right side’ of history, and so far, I think I have been; but who wouldn’t say that? Even on days where my homeschooling would have fit the Ofsted standard of ‘fucking shocking’, it’s felt important to acknowledge the gravity of the situation unfolding around us.

Home really is where the heart is, but it’s also where all the fucking mess is.

If I’ve struggled with one thing this last few months, it’s been keeping the house clean. Technically of course, I’ve been IN the house more than ever, but rarely (ha, ok, absolutely never) have I managed to go to bed with everything on my to-do list of housework ticked off. It’s felt reallllllly fucking frustrating, particularly when Instagram showcases off everyone else’s DREAM HOMES through lockdown, but I got back on top of it in the end. Ish. Kinda. Sort of. I mean, I’ve hoovered this week, anyway.

What’s really struck me about our house though, is the sense of security it’s brought to us as a family unit. We rent, and I don’t LOVE our house (there’s lots right with it, but lots wrong too) but it’s felt safe and secure and like, well, for want of a better word now the government actually use it, a bubble. I can’t imagine how difficult this whole situation must have been for those without a warm home, or a garden, or somewhere safe to stay. I’ll never take it for granted again… although I’ll probably still moan about it.

I suck at downtime.

Despite having looked out excitedly over the prospect of months on end to spend with more free time than ever, somehow I ended up instead taking on more to do than ever. I started marathon training (more on that in a future post), started studying a university module, decided to take up reading two books at a time (one audio, one physical), committed to taking my son out at least once a day for an adventure of some kind, even if just in our garden, and spent hours on end facetiming relatives to try and keep us all connected. This is, of course, on top of parenting a child with no childcare assistance, working full time and attempting to maintain some kind of social life.

There’s a ‘inspirational’ quote circling the internet that says something along the lines of ‘You have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce does’: and let’s be clear, that’s absolute bollocks. She undoubtedly has more support than 99.9% of us. But, this time has proven to me that I can do whatever I want to, as long as I’m kind to myself with deadlines.

Equally, it’s taught me that I do very little self-care and probably should pause and rest once in a while. I need to look after myself, too – something I think every other mother on the planet can probably identify with. For now though, I’m juggling. And feeling pretty good about it.

A taste of anxiety is plenty for me, thanks!

I’m fortunate enough to have never really suffered with anxiety, aside from around some stressful situations and in the bubble of new mum hormones. It’s definitely fair to categorise ‘a global pandemic’ in the category of stressful situations, and I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about the virus and its impact on us as a family; physically, socially, emotionally and financially. We umm’d and aah’d over what to do about our toddler returning to nursery (he’s still not back yet, as it goes), how best to care for and keep in contact with my 93-year old shielding grandmother, and have had to consider the safety of every trip out of the house. 

How people, and particularly parents, effectively deal with serious anxiety daily is beyond comprehension for me. This time has made me really appreciate how much is being battled and how difficult that struggle is. Anyone with anxiety managing to function through daily life is a badass.

Time goes faaaaast.

Having a toddler around invariably means that when you look back at photos of them you took just a few months ago, you’re always struck by how different they look now. In terms of development for my son, lockdown seemed to coincide with a real leap in emotional learning, comprehension, and speech and language. Which has been, and no doubt will continue to be, absolutely fucking knackering, of course. But now I look back at it all and think of how much has happened both in our house and the world outside it since March, it seems to have gone by in a flash. That’s part of the reason I’ve decided to make a little scrapbook up of this period, I guess, so that I can still remember it well in years to come.

In some ways, it seems odd that the world is still spinning and we’re still here and life is continuing. I have no idea what mad fucking twist of fate 2020 will throw at us next but I’m feeling ready for it. And hopeful, that our kids will become more socially aware, brilliant, kind little people because of these events they’ve lived through. Well. And that Eastenders comes back soon. Obvs.