Let’s tell it how it is: this is hard. We’re a few weeks in, now, and any kind of novelty has long since worn off. So I want you to know that it’s ok to fall apart. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to need a nap. To shut yourself away for a few minutes, if you can. To ask for help, if there’s help available.
Has anyone told you how incredible you are?
Everyone’s situation looks a little bit different, but chances are you’re doing a fair few of the following things. Taking care of children (feeding them, playing games, teaching them things, feeding them some more). Cleaning and washing and tidying. Working. Helping neighbours or family or friends. You’re doing more than you usually do, and you usually feel stretched to your limits. And you’re doing it without your usual support system. You can’t give your mum a hug. You can’t ask your friend to come over so the kids can run riot while you drink tea (or wine) and get things off your chest.
You might have one child. You might have five. You might have a baby, a toddler, a pre-schooler, a primary school child, a pre-teen, a teenager. Or a selection of the above. Let’s get one thing straight: this life is not easy for mothers with children of any age. And it’s not easy for those children, either. So just as it’s ok for you to cry and stamp about and refuse to get dressed or do anything vaguely educational, it’s ok for them, too. Let them have a day off whatever homeschool regime you have going. Whether it’s five hours at the dining room table, or snatched minutes of Maths games and the daily BBC Bitesize programme (as it is here).
Give them a break. Give yourself a break. It’s ok to have a break.
Two days ago, I spent all afternoon trying to get my six-year-old son to write five sentences. They can be about anything, I told him. Facts about you. A story. A diary entry. He sat, he wandered about, he asked if he could stretch his legs in the garden. And four hours later, he had written the following: I like cats. I like kittens. I like dogs. I like frogs. I like sheep. And then I discovered that my husband had written the answers to a Zoom quiz on the back of some of our son’s work, which I’m trying to keep together, pitiful as it is. And I just lost it. Ripped the page out of the book, balled it up and threw it across the room. Put the TV on. Went for a run.
Every day, I go to bed tired and find myself unable to sleep. And I wake up tired, and have to drag myself out of bed to do it all again. I do PE with Joe Wicks while my children argue with each other and don’t even pretend they’re going to join in. This afternoon, we went on a short drive to drop something at a friend’s house and on the way home, a thought occurred to me through the haze of exhaustion: I don’t think I can get to the end of the day. We got home, I put the TV on, and I had a nap. And when I woke up, I hid in the kitchen and ate a creme egg. And that gave me enough energy to finish the day. Just about.
I know that you are missing your loved ones, your kids’ teachers, maybe even your cleaner. All the people you usually have around you who make your life possible. And you’ll have them back. But for now, do what you need to do to get through it. And don’t feel guilty about being less than perfect, about having a messy, unstructured week (even if it’s every week), about serving meals that aren’t particularly nutritious because you can’t face the fight. This is hard. Physically, emotionally, mentally. But it won’t be forever.
You’re incredible. Believe it.
Love, Another mum