Am I a good enough mum? It’s a question I’ve asked myself a lot lately, especially as life gets back to ‘normal’ and the kids are back at school and nursery after all the various lockdowns.
Like many families we had some bad days, very bad days and totally awful days during lockdown and to say the experience was a learning curve is an understatement.
Having baby number four at the start of the pandemic and having no maternity leave to speak of owing to homeschooling and trying to keep everyone alive without killing each other has undoubtedly been the biggest test of motherhood so far (I still can’t log on to Seesaw without getting a nervous twitch!)
With the last remaining lockdown restrictions due to be lifted over the next few weeks I thought it would be fun (and cathartic!) to share some of the things I’ve learnt about parenting during that time.
5 things I learnt about parenting in a pandemic
1. We’ve all been in the same storm, but not the same boat
Although we’ve all been in the same storm, the meme doing the rounds on social media is so true: we’re not all in the same boat. Some of us are in yachts, some of us are in canoes and some of us are drowning – in my case in kids! We spent lockdown home schooling Bluebell and Max in a two-bedroom flat with no garden while entertaining a four-year-old and looking after a newborn. My fourth and final maternity leave was not only hijacked but well and truly ruined, and having survived that I think we can survive anything.
2. The more kids you’ve got the more plates you’ve got to spin
And, funnily enough, four kids is a lot of plates. Other than high days and holidays I never dreamed we’d all be at home at the same time for months on end without anyone being able to go anywhere or do anything else. Pre Covid the idea of schools and nurseries closing was inconceivable, and to say it was testing is an understatement!
3. Buying shop-bought baby food doesn’t make me a bad mum
Introducing Violet to solid food with ready made baby food pouches is something I’ve felt really guilty about. Unlike her brother and sisters, who were all introduced to solids with food made from scratch by me, I’ve never peeled or pureed anything for Violet. There was (and is) so much else going on that spending hours in the kitchen peeling and chopping and grating and slicing only for her to throw whatever it is I’ve lovingly created on the floor isn’t high up there on my list of priorities. But that doesn’t make me a bad mum – it just makes me one doing too many things and none of them well!
4. You adapt to survive
By doing things like buying shop-bought baby food instead of making it yourself. We cut so many corners during lockdown because the fact is there are only so many hours in the day and it’s not possible to do the job of five different people. Being a mum is hard enough without being expected to be a teacher, classroom assistant, playground monitor, cleaner and dinner lady as well!
5. We’re all just winging it
When I think back to the early days of the first lockdown the phrase ‘the blind leading the blind’ springs to mind. The truth is we were all winging it – the Government, teachers, employers, parents. All you can do is your best and if sometimes that isn’t good enough then so be it. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
Is there anything particular you learnt about parenting during the pandemic? I’d love to know what it is!