I’m a working mum. A working mum in PR and marketing is the norm these days in an industry proudly dominated by the female species. Multi-tasking is a prerequisite of both jobs and I used to pride myself on my plate spinning skills. That was before the C-word and home-schooling was thrown into the mix. My COVID juggling skills have been tested to the max to avoid my life being transformed into a chaotic circus.
When the government announced that schools would close, I threw myself with gusto into a colour-coded daily school planner and signed up to every free online teaching app, read every blog and post about how to make fairy castles out of an old milk carton and like most mums around the country, I tried to force my kids into ‘doing’ Joe Wicks every morning. My plan was to shoehorn and share this workload with my other half – we would be like the Waltons, living and working in perfect harmony.
Working to a more flexible diary in my locked-down home, I also planned to get fit, lose weight, grow vegetables, clear out my size 10 wardrobe, declutter my chipped plates and unused kitchen gadgets, throw out all out of date medicine, put photos in albums, try yoga, drink more water, teach my girls to sew (not that I’ve picked up a needle since my disastrous peg bag aged 13), eat less cheese and add new meat-free recipes to my repertoire. And FaceTime friends and family with cheerful and uplifting anecdotes every day.
How naïve. How blindly optimistic. How ridiculous.
I have achieved none of the above in my ‘free’ time. Neither have I written a best-selling novel or learnt a new language with the exception of disguised, kid-friendly swearing. I still don’t connect with my inner or outer zen through yoga or meditation. My garden is vegetable-less and I have not written a million pound post-COVID business plan or even Marie Kondo’d my cutlery drawer.
What I have done is desperately attempt to combine successful working from home with mediocre, haphazard home-schooling. Colouring by numbers and Little Mix dance routines are valuable life skills, right?
I’ve also plodded round the same park with 2 kids who moan like I’ve taken them to a sweet shop and made them eat kiwi fruit, ‘cleaned’ the kitchen with baby wipes, cooked around 27 meals a day and worried about sourcing pasta as that’s all my youngest will eat. Now I know nursery lies when they tell me she asked for seconds of the vegetable tagine and cous cous. I’m also biting my tongue at how LOUD my husband types. Actually, I’m not biting at all. We really couldn’t be any less Walton-like.
Oh, and I mustn’t forget about keeping the family safe with anti-bacterial gel that I had to queue for 30 minutes for just 30ml of this caviar priced product. So, regrettably I have no available timeslots to hone my down-dog skills or bake bread. Like supermarket deliveries, I’m fully booked up for weeks.
In the meantime, all the motivational gurus who claim that we’ll come out of this quarantine with a new life skill, slimmer and fitter can quite frankly do one. And all the influencers and celebrities who are out-crafting, out-baking and out-meditating each other, please keep your tweets to yourself. If you come out of this with your sanity, in my unwritten book you’re winning.