Yes, You're Doing Greatby Emma Dowey
If someone told me on January the 1st that 2020 would turn out as it has, I'd never have believed them. This year has been crazy. There have been so many ups, downs, twists and turns. And leaving us feeling exhausted, deflated, anxious. There have been many pros of the lockdown. The slower pace of life, reevaluating what really matters, limited travel, fewer commitments. But these pros are overshadowed by the stress of trying to juggle working, schooling and parenting all under one roof.
Working parents have had a rough ride.
Stats from the ONS state that between April-June 2019, three out of four mothers with dependent children were in work in the UK. With 93% of fathers. Essentially, the majority of us are trying to work (whether at home or as a key worker). We have important outgoings...bills, mortgages, rent, food. Kind of important right? We're trying to be good parents, support our children's learning, care for babies, as well as navigate the emotional needs of our children through all of this. That's without addressing the strains on our own mental health right now. There's never been a time where I've felt more of a failure. Feeling like a failure has become my new norm. And I believe this is the case for not just a few parents either.
When the lockdown started back in March I felt motivated to home school. I printed out worksheets and purchased new stationery and a ring binder to organise all our lessons. Fast forward a few weeks and the toll of trying to work full time and home school (and sort the baby) really took its toll. Being made redundant early April was a blessing in disguise but I soon realised my seven-year-old son was less than impressed with working through the lesson plans school had set. Our daily juggling turned to frustrations and arguing (all while trying to sort the baby).
And then on top of feeling useless, frustrated, fed up, and now worthless being out of a job, I felt this crushing guilt. Guilt that I should be trying to find work. Guilt that I should be tidying the home, meal planning, supporting my husband, doing more to encourage my son to get his school work done. Guilt that my one year old has spent more time than ever being pushed around the estate in his pram because mum just needs a "break". Me time was walking with the pram for an hour while listening to podcasts about happiness and motivation. And the occasional true crime to balance things out.
I had (still have) a lot of guilt about our situation. I should feel happy and lucky. We are healthy, safe, in a comfy position at the mo finance-wise. But the days are monotonous and dull. Every day is a repeat of yesterday. Even now a few months of lockdown easing, I feel like the same events are shuffled in a slightly different order. Each day. Each day, like a modern shopping centre. If you were a Pulp fan, you'll know that's a line from the song "Feeling Called Love".
On my darkest days, I wonder if having children was a good idea. I question what world I've brought them into. I've made a conscious effort to disengage with the news, dipping in only when I feel emotionally strong to do so. And being mindful not to waste time scrolling through endless social media feeds. I feel the fallout on our mental health will be far greater in the long run than the physical problems the virus poses. How has the lockdown affected you and your family? Do you feel you're failing on all levels? Maybe it's just me.