The life of the Lockdown family.
Where to begin. I am a mummy of 5 amazing, beautiful children. I have 3 boys and two girls, aged 12, 11, 8, 5 and 13months.
We are all in lockdown together with their daddy who is a keyworker for a major supermarket. We have a number of pets in our family home and a lovely garden.
Our days are fairly standard. We try to get the children in to some reading, writing, maths, art and science.
We do fun things such as baking, gardening, games, painting, music (we have some keen drummers in our household), singing, signing, messy play, tending to our pets, including chickens, and watching movies and tv. We do our food shop once a week and call or video friends and family as often as we can.
Some days are better than others. On those days the kids joke we are in our family home-school and mummy and daddy are teachers. They will sit beautifully, crack on with what we set them, combined school work and projects we set at home, and ask questions if they need help. And we support the younger ones with handwriting and reading and other learning tasks. We try to be as imaginative and engaging as possible. We share their work on school pages and sites and pin it up to show off around our home! We have family quiz nights and competitions and prizes, and Saturday nights are made for movie night, popcorn and hot chocolate.
They ask lots of questions about the current situation, and we try to answer within their understanding as frankly as possible. We like them to know that we are not lying to cover things up or make them feel better. But we are honest with what's going on and still reiterate that we are doing our bit to keep our home and family safe. They are very good at telling daddy to wash his hands when he gets home from work. They've learnt to adapt with changes unimaginable.
They've lost regular face to face contact with friends and family whom we are very close to. They've lost school, routines, visiting their favourite places, going to restaurants, normal freedoms and to an extent a little of the carefree attitude that comes with being a kid! Now the older ones in particular are aware there is something to worry about, but we do our best to support them alongside getting advice from lots of various professionals and schools.
On the not so good days things don’t run as smoothly. My husband will come home to a slightly frazzled mummy. Begging him to hold the baby for five minutes. Saying "today guys no school work, actually stay in your pjs, let’s do some gardening, or watch harry potter back to back” to just do nothing. So I can let them watch a movie to take a chance to scroll through my emails or make contact with my grown up friends, or read something that I don’t have to worry about phonics with. Limited housework no stress. Sending the others outside to play so I can spend time with them one on one, and take a deep breath and have a cup of tea.
Having that moment of worrying they are going to be 'behind' and thinking that I can’t do this and when will this all be over so they can get back to learning at school as we aren’t good enough. Then battling internal guilt that I should just suck it up and be there. No matter how tired we are right? When I actually say after sneaking out to the garden (for a very naughty cigarette) while daddy watches them, will you please stop following me? Again guilt. They need mum right? How else would they tell me for the 20th time this hour that they NEED crisps and there has been yet another sibling injustice?
When you take one or two of them out for a walk, quality time, knowing you will do the rest tomorrow for their time, but dealing with the sad looks because it's not their turn. When your daughter breaks her arm playing 'super slug' on your sons first birthday after weeks of saying don’t be silly you'll end up in a and A and E and we don’t want to go there right now, only for your other daughter to end up with having 9 stitches in her knee the week after? Feel like you are failing? I do right?
Wrong! We are very fortunate and we all count our blessing in this house that we are afforded luxuries many sadly at this time aren’t.
We can hug each other, share meals, play in our garden and we can do nothing if we want. We can speak in the same room, we have food, Wi-Fi, play games, argue, take walks, make cakes, laugh, and just be.
The truth is however you choose to handle this that is right. If you aren’t doing regular schoolwork, that's ok! They are learning in ways that you can’t see. Even doing small chores! Life skills!
If you are sitting there doing schoolwork, great good job! Don’t forget to have some downtime too! It's just as important to rest. We want our kids to come out of this not mentally scarred. Happy kids are better than kids that require years of therapy, but don’t worry because they know the square route of pie. They will have enough to deal with for years to come with the fallout from this situation, let's not start that at home! Remember, your branches will take you many places in life but always remember where the roots began.
Making up your own curriculum? Fabulous! Everything is adaptable. My son fixed a bike physics! Force and leverage. Helped build and paint a chicken house, woodwork and design technology. Learning to bake? Maths! Ratios and fractions of ingredients. Drawing on the walls? Art.
The University of Life has so much to offer. The schools are there for support if you need it. But the thing we’ve learnt is this is as new to them as it is for us. None of us know what we are doing. We are all just doing our best. Some days it's a good day, some is bad and they are ok.
This won’t last forever. How many opportunities are you ever going to get to sit and watch the grass grow? To sit and watch your children grow? To connect on a level you never knew existed? We have had our children for longer than the summer holidays. With no distractions, no family visits, holidays, theme parks or day out picnics. At home. Relentlessly at home. With all its toy boxes, home-school trays, dishes that seem to magically refill the sink every ten seconds, human and animal mouths to constantly feed and comfort, floors to Hoover And its wonderfully hard. And wonderful.
So I have 5 kids during lockdown. 5 amazing, beautiful, infuriating, shocking, sticky, messy, grumpy, tired, happy, full of life, little weirdos that I wouldn’t change for the world. And I wouldn’t want to do this with anyone else, even if I'm breastfeeding and are doing this with not even a glass of wine!