ISO Life With Two
By Jess - Mum of two.
The day we found out we were going into lock down I played “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” by REM on repeat. I told my two children, Gina aged 5 and Chad 3 years old, that it was the end of the world and everything was cancelled. Harsh, I know, but that is truly how it felt. They accepted it blindly and didn’t ask to go anywhere or see anyone.
Pre-ISO I coped with motherhood by keeping the kids busy. The game plan was simple; wear them out with activities during the day so they’d sleep at night. We had activities every day. I would dread a day at home with both kids, mostly as they would trash house and the constant fighting wears you down.
It starts at around 6am when they wake you up both climbing into your bed fighting that there isn’t enough room in the middle. It continues on with scratching each other, tears in the night time showers and arguments over bed time stories.
Pre-ISO I’d joke that they were always with me, if I could dedicate a song to my children it would have been “Leave me Alone” by Pink. You know the words “go away, give me a chance to miss you, say goodbye it will make me wanna kiss you”.
Then it actually happened, constantly with me 24/7.
No playgroup, no school, no three year old kinder, no swimming lessons, no dance, no Ready Steady Go, no Daycare and no grandparents. I thought isolation was going to be a mental challenge for me. How to occupy them without going anywhere, without destroying the place we call home and without killing each other.
I watch my husband, his life seemingly unchanged, leave for work each morning and returning in the evening just in time for dinner to be on the table. I survived the first week and knew I needed to prepare myself for the long haul. Just me and two kids at home for days on end. Only leaving for the supermarket when my husband was home on the weekend.
Then my body started to let me down, I screamed at them so much that I gave myself tonsillitis. “Get off the table, stop fighting, time out, go to your room, pick up your toys, clean up.” Chad kneed me in the eye in bed one morning, so it was a black eye and a throbbing throat for a week, I felt damaged. I’ll admit it, I’d hide from them on occasion mostly in the pantry just to have 5-10 minutes to myself.
Then the school work started flooding in. Gina would simply refuse to do it. My daughter is strong willed, if she doesn’t want to do something she generally won’t and the more I ask the more she’d protest. However I felt obligated to hand the work in. Those first few days of home school were brutal. Some days she would take 5 hours to get a few simple tasks done. There were times I made her sit there tears in her eyes forcing her to do the work. I must add that Gina’s teachers were an inspiration, they tried to find ways of engaging the students into learning by making the school work fun.
I was lucky that I could work occasionally from home while the kids watched TV where as they were looking after two kids while teaching a classroom remotely. Poor Chad, I remember early on telling him to “go away and play” so we could get the work finished he was a constant disruption. It was around this time to my surprise, they stopped fighting and started playing together.
I decided school wasn’t worth the argument and I relaxed my approach by only doing the minimum. Gina accepted that I wasn’t going to back down so we started doing the work together then playing once it was all done. Chad started joining in by watching Gina’s class videos.
Our days were full. Some mornings they ask for a bath before starting school and eggs or pancakes for breakfast. Walks in the afternoon sunshine. Movies and popcorn on the rainy days. We baked – a lot... We’d crank the music and dance in the kitchen. There were pillow cubbies in the lounge room. There was chalk drawing, craft, paint and playdough. Endless cups of coffee for me and fruit platters for them.
No place to be, except with each other.
I spent a lot of time cleaning. The cleaning was relentless. It’s true what they say “cleaning with kids in the house is like brushing your teeth while eating”. I found comfort in friends who were in a similar situation to me. Mum’s who just got it. Mum’s who wouldn’t judge me cos they understood, they knew as they were living it too.
Then suddenly, the announcement came that Gina could return to school. I’m still not sure how to feel. I’ll treasure the time we had together and I’m not sure I was ready for it to end. I wonder how much they will remember.
Will they look back on this time as magical mayhem it was?
Or will it be, “Mum, remember that time the world ended? So we made our own”.