Harley Challener – Parent In Lockdown: Never Underestimate The Power Of Community
Mamas and papas, we know the last few weeks will have been tough during lockdown. The pressure of potentially working from home, home school the kids, do the housework, entertain the little ones and feed those little hungry tummies is enough to take a toll on anyone. Our Parent Approved Panelist, Harley, is here today to talk you through her rough day in the life. Hopefully this will be a reminder that you’re doing a great job and you are not alone during these uneasy times!
Life in lockdown as a parent. What an emotional rollercoaster.
I’m pretty sure I had the same thoughts as every other parent when their countries lockdown was announced. Yikes – how am I going to cope? How are the children going to cope? How is the house going to cope?
Of course, first and foremost our health and the health of others comes first. I was grateful to have my family safe at home in our bubble. Also incredibly grateful to the frontline key and essential workers for everything they continue to do.
I have three children (four if you count my husband!) Maisie is five, Poppy is three and Freddie has just turned 10 months. Our house has always seemed hectic, but I was not prepared for this.
It took a good while to get into the swing of things. I’m a stay at home mum so I’m used to being at home. But of course not 24/7 with three little ones who want/need my constant attention, with housework piling up day by day.
After a week of ‘winging it’ I realised we were basically living an eat, sleep, snack, coffee, sleep, cry, eat, coffee, sleep repeat life. I needed to put a light timetable/routine into place to give us some kind of order. We all needed exercise, stimulation, one to one and quiet time (the latter mainly for my benefit!) Maisie is in her first year of school so has been having her school timetable and work plan sent out each week. Poppy also goes to the schools nursery three times a week, so we have been combining their activities, doing what we can, where we can. Some days we complete the whole days’ work. Others we don’t even get chance to start before I blink and its bedtime!
A rough ‘day in the life’ goes a little like this..
7am – One wakes the other and that other wakes the other (literally!) We then usually read stories in bed/watch TV until around 8ish ..
8-8.30am – The first feed at the zoo AKA, breakfast.
9am – The girls usually do cosmic kids yoga or P.E with Joe Wicks. We then have a play whilst I clear up the breakfast carnage, try and drink a hot drink, put a wash on and set up the morning’s play/activities. Usually I have Freddie following me round crying or in his carrier attached to me because wow – lockdown has made him exta clingy.
9.30-11.30am – We use this time to get as much school/nursery work done as possible. I find the girls focus so much better in the morning and Freddie usually goes down for his nap at around 10am for a few hours. This means they get my undivided attention during this time. It has surprised me how much we all enjoy this time, learning and focusing on something together.
11.30-2pm – The girls will have already begged me for snacks at least 5 times so lunchtime it is! Usually a picnic style lunch followed by TV/play time. I use this time to give the house a quick once over, grab a *bite* if that to eat, sip cold coffee and sort Freddie’s lunch. Also whilst in the kitchen, I try and prep ahead for tea as everyone’s moods dip just before. It is much easier if the hard work is already done for when the time comes. Unless it’s a freezer food tea!
We then get some fresh air either on our daily walk or out in the garden. We all love the outdoors and do not take for granted living in the countryside. The girls love gardening, riding on their bikes/scooters or playing ball. Freddie is becoming really inquisitive in his pushchair and is always smiling as he watches the girls play.
2-4pm – What we do in the afternoon totally depends on the girls (and my) moods, which are completely unpredictable! If they’re willing, we do some more home learning/puzzles and if they’re not then we watch a film, do crafts or free play.
4-5pm – The time I usually give in to screen time to stop any fights breaking out whilst I’m once again doing laundry, whizzing the hoover round and making tea – probably whilst sipping the cold coffee I made at 2.30!
5-6pm – Food fights, someone moaning that they don’t like something on their plate and a lot of ‘is it bedtime yet?’ can only mean one thing, tea time. It’s always a hectic time, but funnily one of my favourite moments of the day. We’re all sat round the table together eating and chatting about our days.
6-7pm Bath and bedtime! Me and James take it in turns to either do bedtime, or tidy up downstairs. Freddie is always so ready for his bottle and bed by 6pm. Usually, he only has one big nap a day, so he doesn’t take long to go down *fingers crossed I’ve not just jinxed that!* The girls get themselves ready for bed and choose a few bedtime stories whilst we sort Freddie. We only get a few pages into a book before they’re snoring away! Writing that makes evenings seem easy but Maisie(5) is still a terrible sleeper. She wakes several times a night, so I am very strict with calm bedtime routines when at home.
I *try* my best to do a final tidy round, sort the laundry and put the next day’s clothes out before I sit down in front of the TV, or read a book. Ensuring some chores are a done before going to bed takes the pressure off of the morning routine. Waking up to up to a tidy house equals a tidy mind. It’s easier said than done. I often run myself a hot bath and pop a podcast on, or crash on the sofa!
You got this!
We are still all trying to balance our feelings and emotions during this strange time. One day we get dressed and ace everything (there’s no shame in feeling successful and being proud of it!) The next we stay in PJ’s past noon, eat rubbish, watch rubbish and neglect all the things I think we should be doing. I’ve accepted both are fine and no one’s judging.
The girls are taking it all in their stride. I am SO proud of them for how they are adapting. Of course they miss their family and wake up most mornings asking if Coronavirus has gone yet. We are so fortunate to live in a time where we can connect using the internet. We have been video calling our loved ones regularly. The have loved having Nanny read them bedtime stories a few times. As have I, they fall asleep before she finishes the book! The girls have both been enjoying weekly video chats with their teachers and class mates. This has been lovely to watch. We’ve also taken part in virtual baby sensory and yoga classes!
On a more positive outlook, lockdown has taught me the importance taking a step back and slowing down. I hope that once we are back to ‘normal’ I continue to tell myself that I don’t need to do everything, all of the time. I will never forget seeing the beauty of how everyone was there for one another, supporting and being supported by people who genuinely care as a family, as a community, as a workplace, as a nation. I’ve been putting little ‘time capsule’ highlights over on my Instagram stories, so I can look back over time and see how we got through some tough times with smiles on our faces and love in our hearts. We are strong mamas and papas and we have got this!
I hope that whatever your situation, you are staying safe and know that you can always turn to others for help when you may need it. Remember you can do anything, but you can’t do everything. If you need a little reminder just know that ‘difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations’.
If you enjoyed reading Harley’s Parent In Lockdown blog, you can click here to read more blogs just like it.
You can also visit us over on our Instagram page where our #NeverUnderestimateThePowerOfCommunity campaign is underway, sharing positive vibes, advice and reassurance during these unsettling times!