Okay, okay, we’re all a bit bored of lockdown now, aren’t we? And seeing as it’s all starting to get back to some kind of normality, this is likely to be the last time I go on about it. Probably.
I keep seeing other people write about what they’ve learned during lockdown. All those lovely positive things, new skills, new found relationships with their darling children, and how they want to keep their lives like this forever.
That’s lovely for them. It really is. But how realistic is it? Like, really?
So if you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know what’s coming. I thought I’d write about the things I myself have learned in lockdown. But actually be honest about it. Here we go:
1. I am a shit teacher
I think a lot of people could relate to this. Homeschooling has possibly been one of the hardest, most frustrating things I’ve ever had to do. And I’ve not had it nearly as bad as a lot of people. Firstly, I’ve only had to do it with one child. Secondly that child is only in Foundation.
I have not had to juggle three children all learning tough secondary school level maths at the same time. Thank God – I wouldn’t have had a clue.
The stuff I’ve had to do is the most basic of basic stuff with the four year old. Phonics. Counting. Reading. Art. Craft. Simple science experiments. But in my defence the hardest bit is having to bite my tongue (or not) when he does it wrong. Tell him he’s great anyway (when he’s not) and wonder what the fuck that word says when he writes something resembling ancient sanskrit rather than his name. Or when he can’t figure out the word ‘robin’ in his book even though he’s just read it on the previous five pages. Shit the bed, being a teacher takes so much PATIENCE, doesn’t it? I take my hat off to them all.
I literally wanted to punch myself in the face, the entire time. And don’t even get me started on the f*cking arts and crafts projects we were set by the school. I’m still trying to discreetly bin the Jurassic Park he (we) made out of a giant cardboard box. My dislike for all things homeschooling may or may not have weighed heavily in my decision to send him back to school. The millisecond they opened their doors.
2. Blippi is a good babysitter
Another thing I’ve learned is that when it comes to homeschooling a four year old, having two year old twins wanting to join in is a recipe for disaster. Not only do they distract said four year old from attempting any kind of work, they also start drawing all over his ‘art’ work or writing practice. If that’s what you can call it. (Actually, maybe his writing practice IS the artwork?)
So to keep them out of the way, I turned to Blippi as my favourite babysitter. Peppa or Duggee are good too. Or so I’ve heard. Mum guilt ensued for about three days, then I got over myself and realised I am not supermum. The TV went on for the twins. The four year old’s phonics ‘lesson’ got done. Albeit begrudgingly by both of us.
I can also recommend Blippi/Peppa/Duggee in more recent weeks when I’ve had to pick up the four year old (now five) from school and haven’t wanted to drag the twins with me. Don’t worry, I’ve not left them at home alone (DON’T REPORT ME!). But I have stuck them in front of the tele whilst the Other Half works next to them for the less than 10 mins it takes me to do the school run.
3. Lockdown PE lessons are not for us
I’d like to congratulate everyone reading this who stuck with the Joe Wicks PE lessons. I admire you. Us on the other hand? We binned it after two days. If my kids had been into it, I could have almost put up with his voice and ‘shout outs’ but sadly (luckily) my boys weren’t taking the blindest bit of notice of him. Instead choosing to either lie on the floor ready for a snooze at 9am, or kick the shit out of each other. Usually the latter. Same went for Cosmic Yoga too. But guess what? We have managed to survive the entire four months with no detrimental effects of not doing in-lounge exercise workouts. The same way as I’ve survived the last 40 years of never doing one either.
4. School is important
Sticking with the same thread, lockdown has made me see even more how important school is. I’ve been lucky in that the five year old was able to go back as he’s in Foundation. I wrote at the time why I was happy to send him back, when so many people were very vocal about why they were keeping their kids at home. I still can’t accept “In Finland they don’t start school until they’re 7, so I’m not sending mine back” as a good reason (one I actually heard from my school). We are not in Finland. Or Sweden. Or wherever the hell they start school aged 7 (thank god, tbh).
Obviously it’s each to their own, everyone has their own good reasons for sending kids back or keeping them at home. I would not judge that (other than the Finland thing FFS), the same as I didn’t expect to be judged over jumping at the chance to get my eldest back there asap. The fact 52 out of 60 Foundation kids are now back at my son’s school is telling, if you ask me.
School is important. The Foundation year is REALLY important. Yes they play A LOT. But they’re learning so much by doing that, being in the classroom with their peers, being told what to do by someone other than parents, and literally building that ‘foundation’ for what is coming next in their education. It’s not the case for everyone, but my son (and even the twins not being at preschool) certainly did not flourish/thrive/blossom with homeschooling. Educationally things started going down the pan. Emotionally he became more insecure (and naughty). Going back has been the best thing all round for us. Now if only they could keep hold of him for the six weeks holiday too…
5. I sometimes don’t like my own children
There I said it. And do you know what, I think it’s okay to say it. We can’t all like everyone all the time, even if they are our own flesh and blood. And if a situation like lockdown isn’t enough to bring out everyone’s bad points, (mine included) I don’t know what is. Don’t get me wrong, we have had some lovely times too. Generally at the weekends when my husband wasn’t working eleventy billion hours in a week, but we also had some really shit times too.
Everyone shouted a lot. Everyone cried a lot (me just as much as them), and there were times that I really disliked the people I live with. The same as they were no doubt disliking me! I would consider this pretty normal in such circumstances. I don’t believe anyone who says they never had a bad day and whispered ‘f**k off’ under their breath 30 times before midday. It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t jump in front of a train for any one of them though.
6. I like wine
Having just said what I don’t like. This is what I DO like. Wine. Or prosecco. Sometimes gin. Or even beer now and again. As you may have gathered from my feeling the pressure to be a supermum in lockdown post, if I got to 5pm without cracking open the wine, it was a pretty good day. I got into the habit of pouring myself a glass whilst I was making the boys’ tea. It was like a well done for making it through the day without jumping off a bridge, or at the very least throwing my laptop out the window complete with Rosie and her f*cking phonics You Tube video. Coffee was put away. Alcohol was opened.
I would like to point out I then didn’t (hardly ever) carry on drinking into the evening. That one glass (er, sometimes two) being enough to ‘take the edge off’. (I’m aware I’m sounding like an alchie here). I’d also like to reassure you that the second all boys were back at school and preschool my pre-dinner drinking stopped. Because I felt human again! It may or may not resume during the school holidays.
7. Lockdown eating and drinking is bad for your weight
Okay so the aforementioned consumption of alcohol, may have been coupled with the eating of *slightly above the recommended daily intake of all things sweet. At the start of lockdown it was as if I had the attitude “We can’t go anywhere. I need to eat a whole bag of giant buttons to make up for it”. “Homeschooling has been shit today. I need to wolf down an entire tub of Ben and Jerry’s in one go.” “Our regular takeaway night has stopped. Let’s eat our way through the biscuit tin instead.”
Get my drift? It was as if everything that had been taken away from us, could easily be replaced by calories. I mean, I’d happily live my entire life like this if I could, but apparently it’s not wise? Especially after turning 40. The scales are not my friends right now, despite me *attempting to cut down once the boys went back to school. That was six weeks ago and I think I may have lost one measly pound of the NINE (!) I put on. Oops.
8. Lockdown banana bread tastes better with chocolate in
So if you’ve not made at least five banana loaves in lockdown, I think you may have actually been doing it wrong? I blame starting up a weekly fruit and veg box subscription during lockdown on a “I must support local businesses” type of whim, then ending up with seemingly endless bloody bananas. But one thing I have learned is that adding 100g of chocolate chips to your banana bread mixture makes it taste WAY better. Chuck in 100g of peanut butter too and it’ll blow your mind. Obviously it has absolutely nothing to do with my excess weight gain. Certainly not.
9. My family needs to get out and about
Possibly an obvious one to say, but it feels like the second you can’t do something you want to do it more, right? I’ve written in the past that I’d much rather go out than stay in. Lockdown has taught me that staying at home with all three boys isn’t quite as bad as I used to think it was (even if the twins are drawing all over the walls at any given opportunity) but cabin fever sets in, doesn’t it? And I would MUCH rather be out and about.
One of the main reasons for this (other than the graffiti) is that they fight. All the time. ALL. THE. TIME. I’m sure they have a career in boxing ahead of them. I’m not saying they suddenly transform into angels the second they leave the house, but to get them doing something other than arguing over a bit of Lego, makes so much difference. So if anyone wants to entertain my kids and I in an outdoor area (socially distanced OF COURSE!) during the summer holidays, the coffees are on me!
10. You can take my house, but you can’t have my garden
During lockdown I’ve learned that if we weren’t lucky enough to have a garden things would have been bad. Like REALLY bad. I am fully aware how fortunate I am to have a nice, relatively big garden, and that my kids are stupidly spoiled to have such fun things in it. (Shame they aren’t grateful though). But shit the bed, what a Godsend it has been. Coupled with the fabulous weather we had back at the start which seemed to go on forever, it has been the number one Lockdown Lifesaver. I’m not sure my neighbours would agree though. Sorry about the noise.
11. It seems I can happily live in a lockdown pigsty
Maybe I don’t mean ‘happily’. Maybe I should say I’m okay with living in a pigsty. Because it seems four months of kids at home, Daddy holed up in an office 10 hours a day, and Mummy on the edge, means not a great deal of cleaning and tidying is getting done. And I think I’m okay with that. I’m definitely at least USED to it. I read another blogger’s post just now about her house being strewn with clothes, snack wrappers and all sorts of crap. Mine is just toys. Toys, toys and more toys.
I used to be relatively good at tidying up the lounge and kitchen/diner before their bedtime. When I say tidying, I mean opening the playroom door, lobbing the toys in, and shutting it quickly. But I’ve realised I’m not even doing that anymore. I’m currently writing this at my kitchen table. Within two metres of me on the floor I can see a dress-up fireman’s hat, four random Magformers magnets, a dinosaur mask, a Paw Patrol mask, a ride-on quad bike, a Thanos fist, Thor’s hammer, a single piece of Briio train track, 13 Duplo blocks, a Schleich spinosaurus, a vase of dead sunflowers and a few random rice krispies under the table. This is not how I really want to live.
Wouldn’t it be nice to live in one of those grey and white Insta-perfect homes? But this is real life. I could have tidied up before I sat down. But I’m also conscious I have 6 hours of child-free work time left until September. So sod the tidying. Waffling to you guys is way more fun. I need to take onboard these Home Organisation Time Saving Tips!
12. Having the Other Half home due to lockdown is nice
This may sound like I’m stating the obvious but my husband is usually away 2-3 days/nights a week working, but has been home the whole of lockdown. I like it because not only is there someone else to help me with the kids, he also tidies, and cooks nice food. When he’s away I have a bowl of cereal for tea because I can’t be arsed by 9pm. Oh, and I love him.
13. Friends and family are everything
It’s not like me to be soppy, is it? But one of the main things I’ve learned in lockdown is how much I missed my family and friends. If you know me or have followed my blog for a while, you’ll know how close I am to my parents, my mum particularly. And how close my boys are to them. To not see them other than Facetime for weeks on end was tough. I know some people still haven’t seen their families and that makes me feel sad. The second we could, they were in our garden, and last weekend we finally went to their house to play. The boys were beside themselves.
It’s also made me realise how much I love and missed my mates. I’m lucky in that I have a great circle of friends, and would see not only my mum mates during the week with our kids, but also other friends in the evening at least once a week pre-lockdown. Some people have hobbies. My hobby is my friends. My weekly zoom call with four of my oldest and best mates was literally the highlight of my week in those first two months of lockdown. They’d laugh at my stories of how the kids had driven me mad, we’d keep each other going, have a whinge, have a giggle, do a quiz, and drink rather a lot of wine. I loved it and they’re still going despite restrictions easing.
14. I’ve not achieved a single thing in lockdown
I keep reading about all the things people have achieved since lockdown started. People have taken up running, family bike rides are their new thing, others have learned new skills, completed big DIY projects on their house, or set up new businesses.
I have done f*ck all. Absolutely f*ck all. I have not learned a new language, got fit, or tried my hand at cross-stitch. I’ve not even read a book. My lockdown accomplishments are few and far between. In fact they are zero. I’ve kept my family alive but not particularly looked after myself in lockdown.
But I’ve kept my boys alive and have just about held onto my sanity. And that’s good enough for me. (Not that the five year old looks too happy about it).
15. I won’t be changing how I do things after lockdown
People are talking about all the lovely parts of lockdown, what they’ve learned, and that they want to hold onto. Things they do with their family, new routines they’ve put in place, new hobbies, and ways they’ll change their lives having been ‘enlightened’ by lockdown.
This is not me. I don’t want to change anything. Instead I want to go back to exactly how things were before March 2020. I want to send my boys to school, have kids’ playdates, I want to see my friends and family, I want to go to a supermarket and buy food, and I want to eat in restaurants. All the same as before. Obviously adhering to all the new restrictions. But I want to do all of this because I liked my life before lockdown. And I’d like it back. I’ll keep my veg box subscription though. And I have a feeling Blippi is here for a bit longer too…
What have you learned during lockdown?
If you enjoyed this post, have a read of some of my other lockdown ones – Feeling the pressure to be a supermum in lockdown? The best and worst bits of being a mum in lockdown, or Why I’m sending my son back to school in a pandemic when I don’t have to. If you want more parenting stuff check out my Mum Life section, or if you want some UK family holidays and days out inspiration go to my Travel Section.
If you like a bit of social media madness, pop over to my Facebook page where you’ll be able to have a laugh at what ridiculousness goes on in my house with three very small boys on a daily basis. Warning – there is often sarcasm, and usually swearing. There are also great travel reviews and some AWESOME giveaways. Feel free to join my Twins, Tantrums and Cold Coffee – Shits and Giggles Parenting Group too, where everyone shares their hilarious stories.
And if you want to work with me, feel free to give me a shout here or at email@example.com and I’ll get back to you.