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Diary of a Stuck at Home Mum: How long is this going to last?!

We are all experiencing some massive changes in our lives with the current pandemic situation.

Many people are putting their lives on the line and sacrificing so much, especially time and physical affection with their families. We owe our frontline workers so much respect and gratitude. What they are doing for us is truly admirable.

They are under so much stress and pressure and then have very limited resources for release of this stress.

For many of us not on the front line, it is our first time to really be at home with our kids, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This is a different kind of stress and pressure. We are trying to be parents, teachers, psychologists and playmates all the while carrying the worry and stress about the virus hitting our own families and impacting our own lives.

This diary is my way of trying to relieve my stress about not quite getting it right at home, but it is also a reminder to others that it is OK not to be OK.

It is OK to not know what to do at the moment. The word ‘unprecedented’ is being thrown around a lot, but it is the right word.

We, as a country have never seen the likes of this, and hopefully we never will again. But for now we have to stay strong, stay healthy, and most importantly – stay ‘stuck at home’!

Lockdown (kind of): Day 0

So, today the country has hit the fan. Covid 19 is escalating and in order to delay the spread of the virus the government has decided to close all schools, colleges and childcare facilities.

So like all parents, I’m freaking out, not about the virus, but about what the f I’m going to do with the kids for over a month when ‘social distancing’ means we can’t go anywhere!!

Oh God, I’m having a panic attack. I’m going to be stuck at home with three small children who have no outlet for their energy and pent up frustrations. It’s going to be a whole new level of hardship! I need to go and do some emergency art supply buying!

Never mind the toilet roll, I’m going to need play-doh, paint, paper plates , pom-poms, pipe-cleaners and an industrial size PVA glue. I need to get on Pinterest STAT and find some ‘cleverly-simple-fun-filled-family-craft-activities’.

Then I need to find some ‘cleverly-simple-recipes-to-bake-with-the-kids’, and also some ‘seriously-effin-indulgent-chocolate-sweet-stuff-for-mammy’!!

Oh dear God, there’s no flour anywhere! The country has gone mad and I cannot get a bag of flour to pass a half an hour by baking with the kids.

How are we going to manage the next month with nobody to visit?

How are we going to manage the next month with no routine or structure?

How are we going to manage the next month with no break from the constant stream of questions and demands for food?

Life as we know it is about to change …

Lockdown (kind of): Day 1

It has all been a blur. All I really know is that if I want to get anything done any day with these children, it’s going to take more planning and less ‘winging it while I google an activity’

I’ve already caved on TV rules, but in my defence all of the psychologists on the telly are saying that’s OK.

I’ve also caved on the ‘dodo’ rules for the 3-year-old, but again the psychologists are saying that the kids need comfort, and I certainly don’t need a 3-year-old hanging off my leg whinging at me for 30 minutes until I give in anyway!

All over social media medical professionals are already cautioning against playdates and meet ups by bored parents who have reached boiling point with the kids.

They are really driving the message home by outlining all that they are sacrificing to fight the virus in the hopes that we fully comprehend the severity of the situation.

We are on complete lockdown and we all need to do our part, and I am too socially responsible, and paranoid, to break the protocol.

We will not be meeting for cake and chats, we will not be brunching and *itching about how hard it is to be stuck at home with the kids. Instead, we will all take to social media to rant or vent or prophesise or, more likely, to share the countless funny memes that are ‘funny coz they’re true’!

Lockdown (kind of) Day 2:

My husband has been struck down with a mystery stomach bug. He has been rendered completely helpless and is on the couch with the kids.

5-year-old: Mammy, I want tea.

3-year old: I want tea too.

Husband: I’m convinced you’re not gettin me what I asked you for on purpose.

5-year-old: that’s my spot.

3-year-old: 5 hit me

Husband: Mammy, 5 hit 3.

1-year-old: Shits everywhere and seizes any opportunity to climb into my arms, especially whenever I attempt to open the dishwasher or start tidying something.

We sit down to watch a movie – Creed. I’m amazed because nobody wakes up for ages.

Boom, just as they head to London for the fight the 1-year old is up.

I get back – it’s the ‘walk-on’. Just as the winner is announced – boom, 5 is up!

But I won’t complain because…

5-year-old: mammy where were you? I thought you were asleep.

Me: I was watching telly with Daddy

5-year-old: Well you should have gone to sleep coz I couldn’t find you.

Me: Sorry baby, I’ll go to sleep now.

5: where?

Me: right here beside you for now.

She smiles, turns away from me, content for now that I’m not going anywhere, but wraps her leg around me just to make sure – and drifts off to sleep happy and secure, for an hour or two anyway.

Lockdown (kind of): Day 3

So, I’ve decided to make a massive effort to bring the kids on an outdoor adventure every day. They need it so badly, as do I.

This confinement is going to be long term. We’re definitely looking at 6 weeks, so if we’re all going to stay healthy and sane we need to get back to nature.

For the next few weeks I’m going to try to foster the kid’s natural sense of wonder and awe in the world around them.

I’m hoping that by doing this we’ll all see the benefits – emotional, mental, spiritual, as well as physical. I’m challenging myself to document where we go each day, just to hold myself accountable. Even if it’s just a walk in the town – we’re going out.

Watch this space…

We went to the woods today, which was lovely, but also showed me how important it will be to get out for the next few weeks – not because of the virus, but because my kids are useless at being outside. Seriously, we arrived at the woods and 3 was like..’where’s my treat?’

She literally whinged the whole way around the woods until I gave her a chocolate peanut and caved again with her dodo.

5 had a major meltdown about going to the woods but then had an absolute ball when we got there!!

I can’t believe I’ve let them get this way, shame on me.

Hopefully after the few weeks of committing to outdoors they’ll be loving it, but at the moment  there’s very little ‘wonder and awe in nature’ and more ‘give me the biscuit or I won’t walk any further’!!

Day 4

So, a ‘mixed bag’ kind of a day today. We enjoyed walking in the park, we enjoyed doing some art, we even enjoyed our lunch – lunches actually, everyone had 2 different lunches because nobody wanted the first lunch that they asked for.

We did not, however, enjoy yoga this morning. We let mammy know this by shouting and crying at mammy the whole way through.

We let mammy know by climbing on top of mammy and kicking mammy while she was on the ground. Then we let mammy know by standing in front of the fridge and screaming some more until mammy just gave up on yoga altogether and gave spaghetti hoops for breakfast!!

The screaming happened at different intervals throughout the day. The children took turns, just so mammy was never prepared for who was going to kick off at any given time.

But in the context of being positive we really enjoyed reading time and art time and they actually were excellent at cleaning the kitchen presses – which was positive for everyone!!

Roll on tomorrow, we’re going to the woods again – even though my husband is not 100% on board – and it’s St Patrick’s Day so we’re having a parade in the kitchen!!

Day 5

Some fun today, we did our own St Paddy’s day parade in the back garden. The kids dressed up, had signs and marched down the back road to some good old diddley-Irish music. It was very cute. It made a few people smile on social media and sure we all need that.

But it wasn’t all smiles and fun before or after that. There was fighting and hair pulling and jumping on one another.

Home isolation is so hard on the kids. Not having their normal friends to play with impacts them hugely!! They are so in need of peer interaction and holy God so am I!!

Day 6

Seriously long day again. I’m wrecked!! I had a tummy bug. The day was punctuated by toilet breaks and violent pains in my abdomen.

Himself had this at the weekend and literally stayed on the couch the whole weekend.

I got up with the kids, dressed them, fed them, set them up with an activity and begged to go back to bed for an hour

Then I got up, made lunch, set the kids up doing something else, sent them outside with himself so I could cook dinner. I then collapsed in bed for another half hour.

Next I got them ready for bed, read the stories, had the fights and got them all to sleep. Seriously..he stayed on the couch ALL weekend … fecking men! (disclaimer, I am venting about my husband, I am not trying to cause offence nor is this a reflection on all men in our society!)

Day 7

Has it really only been a week? I definitely feel like I’ve put down a lot longer!

What did we do today?? I dont even remember. The kids had outside time while I went to pick up supplies.

We also made Mother’s Day cards for my mam, which we’re not posting in case we pass on the virus inadvertently. We’re going to send a video of them on Sunday .. .and send them on when all of this blows over … eventually.

SEE ALSO – On The Frontline: Laois nurse on what it is like working in a COVID-19 ward during Coronavirus pandemic

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Steph is a Laois mammy of three small kids. She has started a blog to document her life as a mammy muddling through parenthood and searching for her identity in a world wider than her own four walls. As the pandemic continues she has started a diary to describe daily life as a 'stuck-at-home mom'