The obstacle course with no finish line

Today I’ve been singing the line “I just don’t know what to do with myself…” from the song by The White Stripes – it has been going round and round in my head, I love the song and the words feel right today.

It is a normal Monday in July, actually, start again – it is normal Monday in July, yet instead of embracing the first week of the summer holidays with a sense of freedom and relief that the school run is done, everyone in the house is fed up with each other, even the cat is feeling fed up. It isn’t a ratty, over-tired sort of fed up that we all go through in life, it is more I’m sick of the sight of you fed up – and it feels like it is at the highest level today. As I write this, I am imagining that strongman game at the arcades, and the bell ringing out as the puck hits the top during one of our family ding-dongs, to indicate that we are at top level fed up.

The kids keep arguing, they always have a bit, but right now it is off.the.scale, Rox is being a typical 18-month old, you know, chucking food, putting fingers in sockets, jumping off sofas and hitting us with everything – in fact, he hit me with a toy dustpan today and I burst into tears. it hurt, and as I said, I’m feeling a bit White Stripes lyrics today and a bit fragile. But back to Rocky, he is just being a fab funny little boy, but because none of us have had a proper break, there is always a kid around, if not three, it makes the food throwing and dustpan hitting feel way more annoying than it should. My husband and I swing from kissing in the kitchen in front of the kids to totally ignoring each other and handing over the toddler to make a work call without making any eye contact. Honestly, one minute we are dancing around and flirting and the next we can’t bear the sight of each other and are literally tearing our hair out. Even the cat runs a mile as soon as Rocky Bamm-Bamm walks up to her – her routine is out and she is fed up too. If I think about it too much, I find it all quite sad, but we are okay, and he said to me today when we broke away from a grump to talk about sweetcorn – “Lu, 5 months everyday together is pretty tough – I love you”.

So on this Monday, despite life opening up a bit more, none of it is normal really is it, how can it be?

The girls haven’t stepped foot in their school for four and a half months, The Bakers have spent nearly every hour with each other since 20th March 2020, and it is starting to feel like we are in some pantomime. Ok, that is a bit OTT (Oh no it isn’t!), but it just doesn’t balanced and regular. I used to hate regular, but perhaps part of me actually needs that. I know we can see friends, go for dinner if we want and shop, but it is the no school and the boredom that the children have experienced that concerns me. I am a confidence coach and in normal life, I know exactly how to keep myself feeling good, but the last few months have been a test like no other – much like trying to complete an osbstacle course with no finish line… and now we are all running out of fuel.

The kids are playing up at meal times, we are fighting with them daily over screens (with no clear idea what it actually best), we are experiencing a level of mum and dad guilt like never before and the older kids are developing a bit of an attitude that goes against everything we want for our kids. But it is not a normal time. One of my girls has ADHD, so life has been doubly tough in many ways, and yet so many don’t understand what we go through as a family, and what we have been through to date – but that is another blog post entirely, and I will write about it. All I want to say right now, is those who have supported us through her diagnosis and more, have a place in my heart forever.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been times where we’ve done what we would’ve done during a tough race – pick the other person up and climb the hill together. That said, there have also been times where we’ve all needed space to go alone – but haven’t had the chance to, in other words there has been nowhere to escape to. I can’t just up and leave in the middle of the day, each outing needs to be finely tuned and planned. Just today, we needed to buy a cat flap for little Gracie, so I had Rox and Dan took the two girls to the hardware store – another lap of the obstacle course complete. Go Dan!

I think that the main issue hasn’t been covid-19 or us spending time together, we actually all like each other a lot, it has been the fact that we both have to work with three kids in the house. I mean, if that isn’t crazy, what is? The more I think about this fact, the more cross I get. I run my own business, which luckily I can do from home. My husband works for a company in London, and luckily he can do his job from home, too. I say luckily because we are both working and we can share the kid-load and that makes things a bit better… or does it?

I don’t know if it does or it doesn’t, I flip between that all day long. In some ways it is better, but the intensity of five people in the house (three children under ten) and two parents with a shit load of work on, doesn’t make it better.

What I do know is that both of us don’t have any downtime. I am often up early to do bits of work and I then hit the laptop again at around 9pm – that can’t be good for mental health, can it? But what other option do we have? You know, I look back longingly and reminisce about those dreamy morning school runs, with just one child in a pram and the chance for me to have a natter in the street or to grab a coffee and a pastry on the way back to the house. Ok, they weren’t dreamy at the time, but they feel it now. My husband keeps dreaming about his deathly silent train journeys where the aircon was a touch too cold and the passenger next to him was eating something stinky, but he didn’t care, of course he didn’t, he was freeeee and on his own! (read that as freeeee with no kids!) Oh my days, what bliss.

Pregnant The Screwed have just published a survey of 20,000 working mothers and it is a fascinating read. It perfectly hits on some of the frustrations that I have and am feeling around childcare at the moment. Our toddler is just about to start nursery and we are doing it for two reasons – so he can have interaction with people other than his parents, and so that we can work. Oh by the way, the cost of 2 days a week is just over £400 a month, so I feel we have to spend money so that we can work. This isn’t about shoving him out to nursery, it is about having time to work.

So anyway, back to the point of me writing this. I am writing this today because I have felt all over the place and I know that feeling comes from me trying to work, the fact that no-one feels excited about summer, and the sadness I feel from us bickering and annoying each other. For us, this family of five, this isn’t how we are.

I am not a blamey person (it is a waste of energy in my book), but if I were to blame how I am feeling on anything or anyone, I actually don’t think I could. It is what it is, as they say, but I do wish it was different.

My only advice, and I don’t have much as a parent, is to talk and share, oh… and never judge.

Lucy x

Find me on instagram geriatric_mum

Find me on facebook Geriatric Mum

Join my free facebook group We are Geriatric Mums

And if you would like to find out more about my work as a confidence coach – click here

79 days as a lockdown mum

It has been 79 days since school closed. I don’t need to tell you that that is a long time to have three children under the age of ten at home 24/7, without any break from them, or them from us. No friends here for tea after school, no trip to the local park to let the kids play on the climbing frame, no pretty instagram picture trips to the zoo, no trips to see cousins and family – no let up. But hey, it is what it is. As lockdown eases a touch in the UK, we are getting a little taste of real life – I don’t know about you, but I almost feel in my groove as a lockdown mum, almost-ish.

Don’t get me wrong, I crave seeing friends in the pub, going on the train, even soft play!, seeing the school mums on the walk into school for an idle, unforced, un-Zoomed chat. I like those chats best of all. The organic natter, which for me, makes life feel real, and okay. The pre-arranged video chats and quizzes always switch my mind into work mode – because I have been Zooming for years at work.

Zoom aside, I also miss everything impromptu. To some degree, as a family, we are organised – ok I’m fibbing a bit here, I’d say a BIT organised. We are way more impromptu than organised. Wanna meet us at the beach in an hour? Yes! The Bakers are there. I think for us as a family, that has been hard. But we are kinda used to it now, although I am not sure I want us to be used to it.

The big thing for me is that I don’t feel used to the sedentary side of life. In normal times, I loathe it, it doesn’t suit me, or the kids. But, we have had to try and get used to it, or at least I have – just like everyone else has. You see, I find it hard because it goes against everything I believe in as a parent. Sure, there is garden time (mainly the one year old) and jaunts out to the local gap – we live right by the sea – but the girls (7 and 10) have become much much slower, and more argumentative – Oh my, the arguments!

I think every parent in the land (world!) has had to re-adjust. We started off with great intentions to home-school (I’m sorry but that term HAS to go), but then we soon realised that the kids eating their lunch without having a major meltdown, was a good day. Eating lunch without a mega strop is still a good day here – I think that’s our marker. In fact, I would go so far as to say that we have had about 3 good days in the 79, I kid you not. One of us has lost our shit every other day, and often it is multiple children and adults, losing it together. It has been, and will continue to be, hard.

Our children are 10, 7 and 1 and trying to balance and manage their needs 24/7 (and ours needs as parents) is impossible. It is absolutely impossible and no-one wants it to be like this. I don’t know about you, but I switch from yep this is OHHHHKAY to WTF IS GOING ON, around twenty times a day. Again, I think we all do. But, like all parents, we get on with it – because we have to.

I have been named, by a few friends, the 70’s mum. My dream is for the kids to play outside ALL day, exploring and getting messy, whilst I cook a delicious pie. Lie! – whilst I work. My dream is far from reality. The girls are obsessed with Adopt Me (Roblox) and although it is a cute game and time on a screen is handy for two working parents – it drives me mad. Seriously. We all know that computer games are like a drug, you start, and it is likely you will get hooked. It is true. Flyable rideable unicorns are not what they seem! I have to admit, screens have been useful during lockdown, but have you ever tried to get a kid off a screen when it is dinner time, despite 84 warnings? It is hell on earth. But, it is life, as we know it. I don’t like it, but it is life.

We are safe, we are healthy, we are all quite bored and we are on day 79 of lockdown life. And I am a lockdown mum. We have moments that I will cherish forever, but we have had hormonal rages (not just me!), boredom rages (all of us), frustration rages (all of us), toddler tantrums (you can guess that one), I hate school and never want to go back rages (both girls), I miss my friends (both girls and me!) and many more rages. I guess these rages are raw and real, and I do like seeing people for who they are, I always have – the real deal, no airs or graces. Lockdown life is raw and real.

It is day eighty tomorrow. With no change here – ding ding. Life continues with three children wanting food, piles of washing mounting up, not quite managing the tidy home that everyone else seems to have, no school runs, no looking forward to Friday night out in a pub with friends, no school work being achieved, no playgroups for my little man, – BUT we are spending time in our lovely garden, eating nice tasty meals together (most of the time), we are all going through this lockdown craziness as a little family – together, I somehow have time to work on my business, the house is messy and chaotic house and I am a lockdown mum – trying to keep things ticking over, trying to keep people happy, trying to look after everyone and me whilst staying positive and casting my mind ahead to things we all can do, when ‘this’ is over. It is surreal, intense, boring, beautiful, a nuisance, sad, too much, too little, magical and horrible. It is is far from ideal, but we are making it work – just!

Lucy (Geriatric Mum)

Follow me on Instagram @geriatric_mum

Follow me on Facebook @geriatricmum

Join my facebook group We are GERIATRIC MUMS (currently 1600 members)