A Day of My Life in Lockdown
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Over the years I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve done a few of these ‘Day of My Life’ posts, with the aim of documenting some ordinary, random days, so I can at some point look back on them and be reminded of all of the little details I’d otherwise have forgotten. I suspect that this one will go down in history as the most boring of the lot (And that’s against some pretty stiff competition, too!), but I still wanted to record some of the details of this surreal time in our lives, so here’s a typical day in the life of our family during lockdown – with a small caveat to say that although the photos were all taken during the last few weeks, they weren’t all taken on the same day, because, if you’ve read any of my other posts in this series, you’ll know I’m much too disorganised for that…
I’m woken up by the woodpigeon* who lives in our garden. “WOO-WOO!” he says, from his position just outside the bedroom window. “WOO WOO!” I hate him. Like, literally HATE him. And yet, there he is, every morning, at 5:30am on the dot, waking me up when I don’t need to be awake, and making me think murderous wood-pigeon-y thoughts.
(* I can sense someone who knows more about birds than I do about to tell me that it can’t possibly be a wood-pigeon, because wood-pigeons never wake before 6am, or whatever, and, look, I don’t care: I just HATE him, whoever he is.)
ME: That %^%$#$&**^ wood-pigeon is at it again! It’s OK, though: I still have at least an hour before Max wakes up – I’ll just ignore the little feathered git and have another hour of sleep!
ALSO ME: *lies awake for the next hour, thinking about how tired I’m going to be all day now.*
Finally fall back asleep.
Woken by the sound of Max talking excitedly to his toy monkey, Marvin, over the baby monitor. GAH.
Back in December, when we transitioned Max into his toddler bed, we bought him a Gro Clock, having heard great things about them from fellow parents, who use them to help sleep train their children. The idea is really simple: when the clock face is blue, it’s nighttime, and you stay in bed: once the clock turns yellow, however – and ONLY once the clock turns yellow – it’s morning, and you can get up. We have the wake-up time set to the laughably optimistic hour of 7:20am, which is hilarious, really, because Max wakes up at 6:20am on the dot, every morning. He WOULD actually stay in bed until the light turned yellow, but he’d do it while shouting happily at Marvin at the top of his lungs, so, yes, we’re awake at 6:20am, basically, and even after two full years of parenthood, I have NEVER come to terns with this. NEVER.
(Yes, I know that 6:20am is a totally normal time for people to get up. I’ve been self-employed for over a decade, though, and I’ve been a morning-hater my entire life, so it still seems hideously early to me, and nothing you say will change my mind on this…)
When I go into Max’s room, he always greets me with a story of some kind. One time, it was that a bad witch had stolen his voice – and also his bum – and now he couldn’t speak at ALL. Another time, I opened the door, and he just looked at me and said, “Today I’m going to buy lots of monkeys, and they will FIGHT you!” Today, he solemnly informs me that he’s not Max, he’s a monster, so I change his nappy and brush his teeth – all while pretending to be suitably terrified – then we head downstairs for breakfast, which, today, is a plate of small people:
OK, no it isn’t: it’s porridge for Max (Which I convince him to eat by pretending it’s mine), toast for me (Which actually IS mine, but which Max eats anyway), and lots of blueberries and raspberries, which I’m pretty sure Max would live on, if I let him. While I’m putting this small feast together, Max watches TV, because, like many parents during lockdown, we’ve been forced to accept that screentime is one of the only things that’s going to get us through this. (And by “this” I mean, “the global pandemic,” obviously, not breakfast. I could get through breakfast without it, but it would take approximately 100 years, so I’m choosing my battles right now, and TV is not one of them.) His current favourites are Gaby and Alex on You Tube, but he also enjoys videos of cars crushing things, Peppa Pig, and Lady Gaga – although not necessarily in that order.
After breakfast, Max asks me to get some of ‘The Guys’ down from his room, which can mean only one thing: we are going to play ‘Tuck In With Blankets‘. Sure enough:
After a few repetitions of this, I get out some other toys (Our hall cupboard, plus the sideboard in the living room are basically just toy storage these days..) and we play in the living room until…
Terry comes downstairs. (Don’t worry, he’s not just being lazy: he normally comes to bed much later than me, so it makes sense for me to do the first “shift” with Max.) Once he arrives, I take the opportunity to have my second coffee of the day while we discuss the morning’s news and the day ahead, then Terry takes over childcare duties while I head upstairs to shower, dress, and, honestly, just sit aimless scrolling my phone, really. I come back down to this scene:
They’re called Squigz, and Max and Terry have attached every single one of them to the coffee table – which is actually significantly less mess than I was expecting, so fair enough, really. A couple of weeks ago, for instance, I came downstairs to THIS scene, in which Terry had created an “obstacle course” with masking tape, running the full length of the kitchen and living room:
By this stage of lockdown, it’s basically just a case of doing whatever we can think of to try to keep Max entertained for even a few minutes at a time. My friend Claire sent me some links to a bunch of Facebook groups with activity ideas for kids a few weeks ago, and some of those have been useful in terms of coming up with ideas, but I have to admit, we’re scraping the barrel a bit now!
At this point, we seem to slip through a gap in the time/space continuum, and an hour or so passes without anything much happening. I put on a load of laundry (Which somehow contains approximately 6 toddler vests and 47 socks, despite the fact that I emptied the laundry bins just yesterday. HOW?) and get Max dressed, while Terry tidies up the living room and starts making him some lunch. Before we know it, it’s:
Lunchtime for Max, who is watched here – slightly creepily, tbh – by Marvin the Monkey, and Big Ted the, er, big ted:
Although Max has never really had a comfort object (i.e. he doesn’t take a teddy to bed with him or anything), he’s going through a phase at the moment where he’s very into his ‘Guys’, and likes to interact with them at every possible opportunity. So, he eats lunch with Marvin and Big Ted, then Terry takes him upstairs for nap, which Max only agrees to on the condition that “Marvin” tells him a story, first. (Marvin tells the BEST stories. Mostly about poop, tbh, but he also has a weird tendency to do things like getting stuck inside giant cheesecakes, say, or trapped in a chocolate factory, so that’s always fun.) While this is happening, I tidy up AGAIN (For me, lockdown – and, indeed, parenthood, for that matter – has basically just been a constant process of tidying my house…), and start making some sandwiches for lunch, which Terry and I eat while watching the First Minister’s briefing, during which she updates us on the latest Covid-19 figures for Scotland. Once we’re done, we both head upstairs to the office with the intention of finally starting work for the day.
Sit down at my desk, ready to do some work before Max wakes up.
Max wakes up.
1:30 – 1:45pm
Max repeatedly asks to see his gran and grandad.
I Facetime gran and grandad. Max refuses to speak to them.
Terry and I spend the rest of the afternoon alternating childcare shifts, so we can each have a bit of time to work/ tidy up YET AGAIN / re-pair the 46 socks that have come back out of the washing machine. (Yeah, I know, 47 went in, but they never all make it back out alive, do they?) During my shifts, Max and I play a few of the usual games, and also a couple of new ones, including:
Knock Down the Guys
This involves me carefully placing The Guys in a circle, so that Max can knock them all down again. Then I set them back up, and Max knocks them back down. Then I set them back up, and… you can see where this is going, right?
That’s Miaow the cat on top of the tower. My job here is to build the tower, and balance Miaow on top of it. Max’s job is to knock the tower down. Then I build it up. Then he knocks it down. You can see a theme developing here, I’m sure…
During the times Terry has Max, meanwhile, I do pretty much nothing, really. Or, nothing productive, anyway. I mean, I clean the bathrooms and tidy up (Because OF COURSE), but every time I tell myself that I’m definitely going to go to the office and do some work, I seem to slip into that time vortex again, and, before I know it, it’s my turn to look after Max again, and nothing has been achieved. Motivation is a huge problem for both of us right now: I find that, even when I DO have time to work, I really struggle to find the energy to start something, especially given that I know I’m probably not going to have time to finish it before I have to go and look after Max, or tidy something, or whatever.
This is actually a new thing for me: in over a decade of working from home, I’ve never really had a problem with motivation, so I’m assuming this is a lockdown thing, as opposed to a “working from home” thing: it’s definitely an annoying thing, whatever it is, though, because I feel like I waste a lot of time, when I don’t really have a lot of time to waste. Just yesterday , for instance, I spent 20 minutes on Facebook reading one of those clickbaity articles that are all, “YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHAT THESE CHILD STARS OF THE 80s LOOK LIKE NOW!” I had absolutely NO IDEA who any of the people involved were, but somehow it became imperative that I find out what they look like NOW, because, WAIT, you’re telling me these people DO NOT LOOK THE SAME forty years later?! What kind of sorcery is this? Then, of course, I felt horribly guilty, because, it’s like, OK, our business is going to be really lucky to survive the pandemic, but sure, Amber, you spend the next 15 minutes thinking about the 10 albums that influenced your life, why not?
But back to the day in question, and I honestly have no idea where I was up to with this, but let’s just assume that Terry fed Max some dinner during his final childcare shift, and now it’s…
Now, like many toddlers, Max loves bath time.
Also like many toddlers, however, Max will do pretty much anything to hide this fact from you: because Max isn’t stupid. He knows perfectly well that bath time is just a precursor to bedtime, and Max is not here for that nonsense. What do you take him for, a BABY?
Up until a few weeks ago, trying to persuade him to get into the bath – and then to get OUT of the bath and into bed – was the kind of problem that would require the combined wit of both Terry and I to solve. Now, however, we’ve once again enlisted the help of The Guys:
Basically, every night before Max’s bed time, Terry sneaks upstairs and creates some kind of a tableau involving The Guys trying to get into the bathroom and create mischief. We call this exercise ‘Making a Rod for Our Own Backs’, because while it has the desired effect of making Max race upstairs to see what The Guys are up to THIS time, it ALSO has the effect of forcing Terry to come up with ever more creative ways to set up The Guys every night. And he’ll have to do this FOREVER, too, won’t he? Seriously, imagine Max racing into the bathroom, filled with excitement, only to find the tub empty, and The Guys all just in their usual places, behaving exactly like regular soft toys? It would be unthinkable. So, yeah, it sucks to be Terry, basically: and, actually, it sucks to be me, too, because, while Terry supervises Max’s bath, I get the job of setting up The Guys in his room, so we can get him OUT of the bath again, when the time comes:
Honestly, it seemed like a cute idea at first, but it very quickly backfired on us in the sense that Max now gets so excited by whatever it is The Guys are up to that he point-blank refuses to go to bed. So, yes, my next post will be called, “How to Make a Parenting Rod for Your Own Back, And Then Beat Yourself Mercilessly With It,” and the subtitle will be, “Please don’t do this to yourself. Just don’t.”
Our bedtime routine, then, used to involve Max and I reading some books together before I popped him in bed and quietly left the room. It NOW, however, involves Max and I reading at least 76 books together (His current favourite is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, although he finds the ending problematic, as Max strongly feels that the caterpillar in question didn’t actually WANT to be a butterfly, and was perfectly happy just being a caterpillar, thanks. It has changed the way I look at butterflies forever, tbh.), before I spend 20 minutes pleading with him to get into bed, after which Terry normally has to come in and get “Marvin” to tell him another story. Finally, however, it’s…
Max is finally in bed, where he can be heard loudly telling Marvin all about his day. I generally aim to get to bed at around 10pm (Which still seems super-early to me, especially right now, when it’s still quite light out at that time. Before Max was born, I was never in bed before midnight: now I’m struggling to stay awake past 9pm…), which means I now have approximately 3 hours in which to do a full day’s work, basically. Honestly? It never happens. I DO work most week day evenings (We take the weekends off, in a bid to try to break up the week a bit, and stop the days just blending into each other…) but even although I’ve spent my day doing a whole lot of nothing, really, by the time Max is in bed, I’m normally too tired to be able to concentrate, or motivate myself to do as much as I really need to.
Seriously, if you’re currently trying to juggle working from home with homeschooling, or if you’re a lone parent, or have multiple kids to look after, I salute you: even with just one child, and two parents who are both used to working from home anyway, we’re finding it absolutely impossible to manage without childcare, and I have no idea how other people are coping. For now, we’re just doing as much as we can, and hoping we’ll still have a business at the end of this: we’re really fortunate, obviously, in that we’re able to run our business from home, so we don’t have to make any difficult decisions about returning to work, using public transport etc, so childcare is our biggest issue. The news that we can start seeing family again (From today!), however, gives us hope that we might soon reach a stage where my parents can start taking Max for a few hours here and then again, which would be a huge help: it’s just a case of keeping things limping along as best we can until then, really.
For now, though, it’s…
TERRY: Try not to just lie there looking at your phone once you’re in bed: that’s probably why you can’t sleep.
ME: Lies in bed just staring at my phone, unable to sleep. (Is everyone else still having constant ‘social distancing’ nightmares, or is that just me? Because, between those, and all of the thoughts buzzing through my head, even although I feel permanently exhausted, I haven’t slept well since… I actually can’t remember the last time I slept well, actually, but I suspect it was some time in 2019: maybe earlier.)
Which brings us back to…
That %$#&*^V wood-pigeon starts up again.
And rinse & repeat…