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  • Writer's pictureRobyn


I don't expect I'm going to be alone in these.

These are the things I didn't put in the weekend post. I try to put out the positive bits and the daft bits of how coping sometimes means just letting the children run around naked in the garden, but some of this is really bloody tough.

The world is scary right now and it is bizarrely juxtaposed by the normal of all the houses standing, food in the fridge and fortunately every one I'm close to being well. But it's in no way business as usual and everything is so very quiet. Thankfully including my email now that its the Easter Holidays. I'm not resentful that we're here and I know I am lucky, but knowing that doesn't make it less stressful, exhausting or make my anxiety vanish.

So, who knew looking after the kids all day is exhausting? I've been told enough times that parenting doesn't get easier as the kids grow up, but I've never quite believed them. Different things are hard at different times and I know I'm lucky to have pretty nice children, but they're 5, 3 & 1, and they're pretty much incapable of doing anything alone for more than 15 minutes and even then you're listening to check that the quiet activity they're engaged with isn't in fact destroying something. Each of them might play quietly for half an hour - even the baby sometimes - but never at the same time. For the most part organising an activity that they can all participate in is impossible so it's a constant juggling act of trying to keep at least two happy at any given point. It can be delightful, but it's tiring, it doesn't stop, and a lot of the time it's pretty boring. Zoning out and checking my phone for facebook nonsense or the news to discover that Boris is in fact rather more ill than they were letting on happens a lot and this tends to be when a child falls of the swing or nabs a toy or wallops someone else over the head.

It's tricky to work out the balance for dealing with shitty behaviour from the kids. Their worlds have been changed and contracted overnight - and they can't check facebook and even though I've set up video chats for them, its not really how small people relate. They miss school, friends, grandparents, playgroups and clubs - they even miss going to the supermarket. They're stuck with me and each other all day, so it's only to be expected that they're acting out a bit. In reality I know they're being really very good, but as I'm with them pretty much from when they wake up till when they go to sleep, I see all of it. Sometimes I remember to breathe and pull them in for a hug, sometimes I yell. It depends on where my emotions are, and that is hardly fair on them either.

Pip is asking 'why' to everything. Perhaps that's not the right phrasing. Pip currently responds to any utterance whether that be a statement/direction/comment/answer or anything else with 'why'? I know it is a developmental thing and he did it for a while last year - I was so, so glad when he got over it, but its back. Probably because he's unsure about why this 'cough-cold' I've told him about has stopped him from leaving the house and anyone coming to visit. Nonetheless it is driving me completely crazy. Why? Because its really sodding annoying. Why? Why did my head just explode? I wonder.

The internet is full of self care advice. I've lost count of how many times I've been told to take time for me, time to do a facial or an exercise video or clean out an untidy drawer. The problem with this is that there's no slack in the system. If I take time for me, it means Ed isn't having any time for him. Or I have to start getting up a whole lot earlier. I have had a little here and there though - a G&T in the garden in the evening sun at the weekend was bloody brilliant and I managed to do 20 minutes of a yoga video on Saturday morning when the kids happened to be occupied and Ed was on hand to pick up any tears. But I miss moving without carrying a child, I miss riding my horse (he's liable to be silly if he's not ridden regularly, and I know how much it hurts if I fall off), I miss walking at a normal pace for more than 10 metres. I make sure the kids get a yoga/ballet/wake & shake/Zumba slot every day, I just end up carrying one of them which makes it all rather off balance.

It doesn't stop and we don't know how long it will be.

As soon as I try and do anything a child either starts crying or comes and asks me for a snack unless its after their bedtime - which is what it is now - but that mostly finds me knackered with a glass of wine, cup of tea and chocolate in front of the tv.

I'm trying to be kind, and to do more than my load. Two bits of advice that stick with me. Firstly that it takes about four nice words or gestures to cancel out every negative one - and how easy is it to snipe in frustration at the moment? Ed is doing as much as he can, he's not left the house in a fortnight aside from two trips to the park. He works all day and then comes home to a frayed household and an often grumpy wife. It feels like every other time he comes into the house there's a crying child that wants their daddy - who doesn't when mummy has just told them off? And he's pretty much dealing with it all. But four nice things to make up for grumping at him for leaving a knife slathered in marmite on the kitchen worktop. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. I probably ought to be more specific, but I'd probably embarrass him.

Try to do more than your load. It doesn't always work. It's not an expectation to do everything and burn out in a bid for perfection, rather an effort to make sure someone else isn't having to pick up your crap. If you're both trying hard then there's room for a little wobble. But right now I'm struggling with motivation. Put it on a to-do list and I'll not do it. I cleaned all the kitchen windows on a whim on Saturday morning, but that was just because they were bugging me, not because I'd decided to put it on a list. Anxiety makes me clean and batch-fill the freezer, but it doesn't last, and I'm left tired, knowing I really ought to change the sheets while it's sunny and they'll dry, but wanting to curl up in the corner with all the chocolate.

It is hard at the moment. It is hard not knowing how long we'll be in this limbo for. It's hard watching my kids crumple because I've told them that they can't see their grandparents, or their friends or even go play in the woods. Its hard because our Prime Minister refused to follow the advice about social distancing and got himself ill. It's hard because they knew it was coming and they waited to act. It wasn't a surprise, it didn't catch us unaware, we knew it was coming. Its hard for me and I have so much - I don't know how hard it must be for the families in shitty accommodation without any back up food in the cupboard.

I ought to end on a positive. Thank you to all those who are standing up and out to help those who can't help themselves. Thank you to those who are still at their jobs so we still have food for our table, electricity for our lights and water for our taps. Thank you to the postman who delivers my letters and to those who are delivering the ones we've sent out. Thank you to the NHS. I've not had to go near a hospital for a while and I hope I don't add to your load any time soon, but I've had three babies and my life and at least one of my children came pretty close to ending - that is, if it weren't for the care you provide on a normal day. Oh, and this week I've got to take Pip for his vaccinations - because they're really, really, really important. That's four things, the last one is a really big one.

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