Lockdown with a toddler

A mother’s love is second to none but, that love and patience is tested when you’re in lockdown. I love spending time with my little girl, it gives me joy and really lifts my spirits but having to manage a new full-time job, and, a toddler in lockdown proved to not be so joyful. 

Being organised is my thing, I take pride in planning and preparing, but nothing could have prepared me for lockdown with a little one at home. I love my family, but I also love my personal space too, and 24/7 with us all at home (hubby too) was entering unchartered waters. When lockdown was announced I had planned nap times, lunches, snacks, activities around my meetings and my workload.  I mean I was armed with; paint, playdough, glitter, a diary, sticky notes, a whiteboard the works. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I was going to be on top of everything. Well that’s what I thought.

A couple months in and this well-oiled train was running off the tracks at lightning speed and I couldn’t see how to stop it.  The video calls were back to back, the emails were flooding in, deadlines became shorter and my ‘nursery routine’ of dedicated activities turned into YouTube on repeat. The idea of creating pretty pictures and catching up on emails during nap time, went well out of the window when naps were off the table- perfect timing! Activities become a call with her sitting on my lap whilst I had my head phones in joining a video call (my camera was off, because even she became exhausted of all the video calls) whilst responding to the backlog of emails I missed because she decided that she wanted to use yoghurt as paint and redecorate the sofa, because it’s fun. Multitasking was going so well- not!

My sleep pattern was all over the place, if I wasn’t thinking about the work that I needed to complete, I was thinking that I wasn’t giving her the attention she needed and it’s the second day she has just watched YouTube (YouTube kids) for hours. I hadn’t worked out in weeks and my clothes started feeling like they wanted to squeeze the fat out of me- punishment for eating too much. Everyone around me was starting businesses, launching blogs, doing these intense home workouts, learning new courses and catching up on all the Netflix they could consume. Not to mention the protests for Black Lives Matter and the incessant constant updates about the amount of cases and deaths to the coronavirus. And here was me, just trying to keep my head above water.  Trying to navigate the constant black murders, whilst trying to avoid catching covid, dealing with work requests whilst taking care of a 2-year-old. I was emotionally and physically drained.

After five whole days of full 30 minutes of crying for maybe an hour nap, back to back video calls, unanswered emails, not being able to go to the bathroom without a little human being following and bursting in, and more protests – I was broken!

Trying to be a manager, mom, teacher, cook and cleaner not to mentioning trying to find time to get a workout in- because eating became a sport that I was winning at (the only area I was winning in) was just too much. I had failed! I had let my team down, my little one down and myself down.  I can multitask the hell out of a to do list, but this was on another level.

So, after some fried chicken, Cheetos twisted flamin hot crisps, 3 short cake biscuits, KA black grape, half a tub of Häagen-Dazs strawberry cheesecake (yes, all in one sitting), I had to call in the big guns- aka my mum, aka my lifeline. After some tears and blubbering, she said stop doing everything! I mean how is that possible? I’m a mum, that’s what we’re supposed to do, no? Yes, she said, but not all at the same time. You were hired to a job and minding a child at the same time was not part of the job description. Therefore, you have to do one job at a time, aka you can’t do everything at the same time.

This just wasn’t computing; how can my mum be telling me to focus on one thing at time when I have million things to do. Emails, lunch, video calls, nappy changes, the lot. Mum being firm but gentle said, you heard me- One. At. A. Time. You can’t be responding to emails and changing nappies at the same time, you need to focus on changing that nappy- then respond to that email. You can’t be singing nursery rhymes and on a video call. Take the call and go back and sing afterwards. Set time aside to complete each task.

Because I know my mum is always right (she really is, it can be annoying at times), I swallowed my pride and did as I was told. Thankfully I had an extremely understanding manager who was supportive and gave me the space to work around my little girl to ensure that I had time for her and get my work done. Taking mums advice by focusing at one task at a time, I was able to spend time watching Peppa Pig (she became annoying after 4 months) and I got on top of my emails and YouTube save my video calls. Also, thanks to YouTube kids, I even learnt to count to 10 in mandarin! Things are back to some kind of normality, with baby girl at nursery and me being able to focus on work. However, with the cases of COVID on a steady raise again and another lockdown, flashbacks of the first time around are igniting my previous anxieties. I think I’ll put a can of KA on standby and have my mum on speed dial.

By Charna – Motherhood Writer

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