Feeling Left Behind

When lockdown started most of us were in the same boat, or at least similar boats on the same waters. Yes there were the key workers going out to work, families with children at home, those living alone and those trying to work from home while others were furloughed, unemployed or otherwise engaged. Now it feels like we are all going different directions. Some people are on speedboats heading back to normality while some days I feel like I’m in a rowing boat that has lost a paddle and has sprung a leak or two. In other words, while many people have got much of their life back, I am struggling.

Sail boats on a lake reflecting how lost I feel with providing relentless childcare during corona virus

There are many things I have found hard on a personal level since the country was hit with the COVID-19 virus, but while I have got used to being apart from my loved ones and many other changes I haven’t got use to the day in day out care of my children without a proper break and without adult company to boost my mood.

I feel a bit guilty saying that. I am a mum, I chose to be a mum and yet I am absolutely hating being around my children all the time. There will be those reading this who will be shocked and appalled, others will understand exactly where I am coming from.

My son is hard work. He has always been hard work. From the first few months when he cried continuously to now when he seems to have a death wish as he climbs precariously balanced items, pulls things down on himself or places random items in his mouth. He can now happily entertain himself, but it’s normally while destroying something or playing a baby version of Russian roulette.

On a good day I get a break from Baby Boy for about 90 minutes in the morning while he naps and 2 to 3 hours in the evening. So even on a good day I can spend over 20 hours in his company. Nap time is generally taken up with housework or attempting some form of homeschooling with my daughters. The evening I either work or collapse on the sofa too mentally exhausted to do anything. Even if I work it’s with half an ear listening out in the knowledge Baby Boy could wake up at any moment.

My parenting over lockdown has involved increasing amounts of screen time as my children and I have lost the energy to do anything creative for more than an hour or 2 each day (at most). My middle daughter should have been learning her letter sounds, numbers and more at preschool but I don’t get enough one on one time to help her develop. I have handed over some of this responsibility to apps, but it’s no real exchange for working with a person.

My eldest barely scrapes by doing the minimum work set by her teachers, claiming she wants to go back to the lessons I planned in the first few weeks after the schools closed, except every time I suggest she does something she doesn’t want to do we end up fighting. Fortunately she catches up at her Dad’s house when there for alternate weeks, but she seems to have lost the ability to concentrate or try when she finds a problem challenging and I worry about the long term consequences.

Most of all though I am struggling with not having time to do things for me, whether self care or work. Without work I have no mental stimulation or days pass without any real conversations with adults. I barely spend quality time with G due to the long hours he works and my family are often too busy to talk to me for more than a couple of minutes (everyone has their own battles).

Since March I have been out running a few times a week and I sometimes get a couple of hours break at the weekend, but that’s it. And it’s starting to show. 

My mood has been on the Corona-coaster for months. Some days I feel normal, other days I feel unaccountably low. It feels like as so many people are getting their lives back that the days I find hard are becoming more frequent and my moods lower. News and social media highlight those back at school, work and enjoying “normal” activities and it feels that many people, like me, have been forgotten as we hide behind closed doors or short trips to quiet locations. 

2020 was meant to be my year. The year I began to grow my business, the year I stopped being just a mother, but I’m having to wait a little longer. My children need me more right now so I am trying to do the minimum to keep me going so I can be there for them. Being a mum of 3 young children is hard, but I know it wont always be this way. I feel resentful and frustrated, but not against my children, against those people living the life I want. The question is would I be happy with their lives? I’m a great one for wanting what I don’t have. This has lead me to achieve a lot at times, but also to not appreciate the here and now enough. I’m not sure how to get the balance right?

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