I had so many plans for 2020. Settling into my new home, new job, travel, family fun, you name it. I had only moved into my new place and started my new job, when BoJo announced lockdown the next day. I hadn’t even met the team. Thankfully I was armed with a laptop and mobile phone, and ready to go. For those of you are new to my page, (welcome!) I started my brand new job of Senior Psychotherapist in a local Perinatal Mental Health Service in March 2020. I was (and am) so excited to work with mums and babies navigating their way through pregnancy and that absolute whirlwind which is the first year of parenting. It really is the best job ever.
What I did not expect was a pandemic to force me into working from home, from my dining table/ open space kitchen diner. Implementing therapy over video is a whole other story. It’s working well, as long as my internet connection is stable. It’s hard working from home as my personal space is very much blurred with my work space, and there have been days where it is difficult to switch off. As an NHS keyworker, I have worked full time through the pandemic. I have a strong sense of responsibility so I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The one thing that makes me smile everyday is my little boy. Samraj is now 2.5 years old and is the biggest bundle of energy you will ever meet. Whilst I moved job, Samraj moved nursery and he charmed all the workers within minutes. He settled in very quickly. Where other parents will be sharing stories of how they managed work with childcare, as a single parent keyworker household, I had no choice but to keep him in nursery. When our nursery shut down due to low numbers, I had to find another nursery to go to. In comparison to most parents, I barely saw my son over lockdown.
In some ways this is good. My mum friends are very jealous, as mothers across the globe have noticed a huge shift in their responsibilities became reminiscent of traditional gender roles, where they balanced a predominant amount of childcare with a predominant amount of household duties. My mates noticed this in their relationships too. I am not sure how I would have dealt with trying to be my therapist self whilst my child shouts out for snacks. On the day of Samraj’s first settling in / half day, I had my first team meeting that afternoon. Samraj insisted on sitting in my lap and when I tried to talk, he put his hand over my mouth and said “Shush Mummy”. Hilarious now, but at the time I was mortified and very glad that he would be in nursery full time.
However I miss out on a lot. Children all over the globe got some real quality time with their parents, where mine has been most likely living his best life at nursery. Today I wanted to share with you how I got on with Quarantine. I developed a cough, that Samraj also had too. We had no other symptoms but we had to go into isolation and get tested for COVID19. For the first time in my parenting life, I had 1 on 1 time with absolutely nothing to do.
We had the most fantastic time. I asked Samraj at bedtime what he wanted to play the next day. Everyday he came up with something new: crocodiles, bears, dinosaurs. Every evening I went on Pinterest and made a plan of the next day. This is the stuff we got up to:
- Crocodiles: shape sorting game, Splash Mountain ride experience (I put Samraj in a tub and rocked the tub in sync with a Youtube video of the ride), crocodile obstacle course.
- Bears: Reading “We’re Going On a Bear Hunt”, Cosmic Kids Bear Hunt Yoga, Teddy Bear Picnic, baking bear cookies.
- Dinosaurs: reading a dinosaur book, I made a dice with different dinosaurs that we had to imitate, playing dinosaur figurines and watching “The Good Dinosaur” on Disney+.
Can you see how much we did on each day. That doesn’t include movies, video calling family and friends and the best part of day: naptime. What I found most interesting was that I did all of the above plus more and I felt just as shit as the times I was at work and spent barely any time with him. I had put in 1000% effort and did more activities on one day than I would do in a month, but all my brain was saying was, “You haven’t done enough, you could have done more, been more.”
What I learned from this experience is that no matter how much I do or don’t do, my internal critic will always say that I could do more. If I feel this way, then its likely that other mums feel this way too. Logically I know I am the best Mum Samraj will ever have. I couldn’t have been more of a Pinterest Mum if I had tried. Equally I don’t think I have touched the massive arts and crafts box I made up since then.
So whatever your brain tells you about your ability to Mum, just remember that you are the best Mum that your children will ever need or want. When you are at your best, when you are at your worst, your kid(s) will think you are the most wonderful being on this Earth. Try not to be hard on yourself. You got this!
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading my COVID story!