My head has been all over the place, as I’m sure it has been for many of you too. It doesn’t matter whether life was good, bad or mediocre…most of us are now in the same boat; united by the fact that life as we knew it has suddenly changed!
For the last week I’ve pretended as though we’re just on an extended Easter holiday, albeit a pretty cr*p one but thankfully we’ve had some practice of bad holidays having previously spent ten days quarantined in an Antigua hotel room with chicken pox! Of course I know the reality is far from a holiday, this is Coronavirus lockdown, this is a new life where WhatsApp reminds me every five minutes that I’m supposed to be ‘home-schooling’. Thanks for that COVID-19. Not only have I got the worries that come hand in hand with being a Mum and the guilt that I may in some way be screwing up my kids mental health, but now I’ve also got the responsibility of their education in my hands. For crying out loud, I cannot be trusted with this!!! I have so much respect for teachers. I couldn’t do it. I can’t do it! So, I will do as I am prone to do in these moments of expectation, I will do my own thing, on my terms, even if it means doing it differently to everyone else. I tell myself my child is 5 (she actually is, I’m not trying to mislead anyone) and in other countries she would still be carefree running around in fields (although not right now of course given most of the world is locked indoors!) So, for a couple of days we will ignore Google classroom and all the ever so helpful home learning timetables from which I cannot seem to escape. I will ease the pressure off myself until we all adjust to our new normal. There will be plenty of time to catch up…and if not, let’s hope she can repeat the year!
We’re only a few days in, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised that our mornings have been almost enjoyable (aside from PE with Joe Wicks). It’s in the afternoon when the wheels start to come off. I’ve obviously had my daily quota of ‘Mum wins’ so now we descend into fighting and chaos instead. I’m left questioning how the heck we’ll make it through the rest of the day let alone the next few weeks (months?!) And if I wasn’t already on the verge of tears, we then get to that life on lockdown time of the day where I find myself throwing potato unicorns on a plate while the Government reminds me we’re up sh*t creek with a somewhat questionable paddle. Great, such fun! Can’t wait to see you again tomorrow guys (although possibly not as you might all be self-isolating by then).
How surreal and unsettling this all is. When 2020 dawned with all its new decade optimism, who’d have thought we’d be where we are now? What will happen to us all in the weeks and months to come? How will the world look when we finally come through this? The worries ebb and flow. By the time the day ends I’m emotionally depleted. I mean, who isn’t after being confined to the house with their loud and free-spirited offspring, but now it’s more than that, it’s the new mental load of holding it all together while some invisible threat creeps around us.
So how to cope with this? How to get through this time of uncertainty?
Truthfully, I have no freaking idea! In the past I’d have escaped in a large glass of wine but I’m off the booze at the moment so unfortunately that distraction technique is a no-go.
I don’t want to be Mrs Doom n Gloom, but I do want to be honest that I’m having moments of feeling scared, of disbelief that it’s really happening, of panic that it’s all out of my control, of frustration that people are ignoring advice and putting others’ lives at risk. I don’t want to be flippant, making jokes at a time of global disaster but it’s one of my defence mechanisms, my way to hide from the horrors unfolding around me. Likewise I don’t want to be that annoying optimist suggesting that some greater good will come from this. Yes, for some of us it may well be the pause button that was needed; a forced upon us realisation of all the things we took for granted until now. But, even if we do come out of this as one of the enlightened ones, it doesn’t mean there won’t be hard times and a bit of hysteria along the way.
For myself, I know it’s a mental health disaster waiting to happen if I dwell too much on the things that I have no control over. It will get me nowhere, other than deeper into a pit of despair (and a much longer climb it will be to get back out again). So, instead of being consumed by negativity and fear, I’ve got to take whatever positivity I can. I’ve got to believe that by the end of this, we’ll discover we are more resilient than we thought and there were still things to smile about even in the face of adversity.
My heart has already been warmed to hear stories of kindness, to see communities unite to help one another, to know that even in these bleakest of times there are good people doing good things. I’m so grateful to the NHS; the teachers, the army, the supermarket workers, the delivery drivers; and all the other people who are putting themselves at risk to help others – you have my complete respect and I thank you all.
I’ve started a life on lockdown diary. Already I’ve filled lines and lines…it’s nothing exceptional but it’s helping. It feels meaningful; a reminder to notice and appreciate the little things that warm the heart and soul. I’m taking photos too, so the children have memories of all that we did do, rather than all the things we couldn’t do. I’ll try to make the most of this time to slow down, to be more present, and to finally declutter the house! I’ll try to stay upbeat and do the right things to keep me in a better frame of mind:
- Use my phone sparingly for keeping in touch with loved ones instead of letting it pull me down into the mental gutter.
- Listen to loud uplifting music and dance around the house.
- Prioritise self-care and exercise.
- Slap on my brightest lippy and wear all those neglected clothes in my wardrobe which rarely get worn because the time and place is never quite right.
And when I can’t do any of this, when I feel tired and overwhelmed; I’ll show myself some compassion and understanding because it’s ok not to be ok. Especially now.
I know it’s going to be hard to find much joy in the world when people are losing their freedom, their jobs and sadly their lives. You may well be rolling your eyes at me and my bl**dy notebook, I don’t blame you. But don’t worry, I’m a realist, and I won’t be sugar-coating it. It won’t be pretty; it won’t be perfect. This is only the end of week one and the good weather may well have given me false, hopeful illusions. After weeks of this it may well be a very different story. There’ll be days I achieve nothing. Days when I’ll stay in my dirty PJs, eating my body weight in chocolate. There’ll be days I lose all patience and turn into shouty Mum. Days I cry in the bathroom, longing for this all to be over. And this is all assuming none of us (or anyone we know) gets ill, I mean really ill, like all those horrifying news images I need to stop looking at. If that happens then who knows what I’ll do, who knows how I cope then?!
But I can’t think worst case scenarios, for there lies madness. All I can do is take it hour by hour, a day at a time, grateful that for now there are still glimmers of sunshine through the rain.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this (and well done for making it to the end!) I’m thinking of you all. Stay safe.