By Naomi Saunders
A school teacher from Cornwall, and Mum to 2 beautiful little girls. Following a difficult experience feeding her second baby Naomi has become an advocate of Combination Feeding and works with MAM to raise awareness of parents right to choose their own path when it comes to feeding.
A Repetitive Routine
Since making the jump from one child to two, the days I have at home have turned into a repetitive routine-
– wake up,
– feed the children,
– exhaust the children with outside activity,
– children rest or nap,
– repeat all of the above until bedtime
That is not to say I do not treasure the time I have with my girls. But let’s face it- parenting is about survival.
I have been a stay-at-home mum and a full-time working mum. Is harder than the other? Absolutely not, being a working mum, rushing from place to place is mentally and physically exhausting, whilst being a stay-at-home mum can be incredibly isolating and equally as chaotic.
Most days your best chance at sanity is getting your children outside. I know I am not alone in pursuing trips to the park in polar conditions, scooter runs at dusk and beach trips mid-down pour. Our outside adventures ensure peace and tranquillity has at least some presence in our lives.
Here We Go Again…
Being a teacher, I have chunks of holiday and during this time I knock myself out being a ‘mum’; days out, activities, late nights, mornings so early I need to inject coffee into my eyeballs. I absolutely live for the time I have off. I cherish it and then as it comes to an end, I can’t wait for some law and order. But only a few hours into my first day I was faced with national lockdown and catching Covid-19. If first impressions are much to go by, 2021 I have not been impressed.
So, there I was, on a strict stay at home order and feeling rotten. Faced with another two weeks at home in isolation, but this time outside exercise (Children running wild, free and feral) was off the cards.
As a world pandemic was never in the plan, the teacher in me needed to create my own. A survival guide. But surprisingly, I didn’t just survive it, it exceeded all expectations, and it wasn’t as stressful as I envisioned. A few simple rules helped me meander through the isolation.
My Survival Guide
1. Have a game plan
A large factor of feeling good is knowing we are in control. The thought of waking up each day and having no idea what was happening felt overwhelming. I planned my day the evening before in the notes section on my phone. I broke the day into small chunks instead of viewing it as a whole. The mornings were made up of activities and dedicated snack times, whilst the afternoons were freer and more relaxed. I avoided screens or TV throughout the day. Although this sounds military, it gave our day purpose and then a time to relax. Without a plan, your day can quickly descend into chaos.
2. Keep weekends ‘weekendy’-
Keep your weeks busy, if you don’t always have a routine from work, build one in. I was working throughout the week and my eldest daughter being homeschooled, it was important to make the weekends feel like weekends. If you have babies, schedule virtual classes, or simply follow your own on YouTube or IG, then keep your weekends free. Create a clear distinction between work time and downtime. Time to lounge in PJ’s, late breakfasts, closed laptops, face time catch-ups and nice food.
3. Say YES
As a parent, it is natural to do everything in your power, so as not to accept offers of help. Carrying 6 bags of shopping and a baby instead of saying yes to your neighbour lending a hand. But this is a time when you must simply say ‘yes’. I was incredibly grateful to offers of click and collect drop-offs, milk and bread runs. Consider how happy you would be to do the same for a neighbour in need.
4. Remember you won’t get this time again
Parents are not alone in finding life chaotic. With or without children, adult life can be constant, monotonous and exhausting. Never again in your life will you be told simply to stop. No shopping trips, no petrol runs, no dentists, no club runs. Make the most of this time.
5. Time for you
Like many others, I never wanted to hear the phrase ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’, okay great I will also ‘wash clothes when the baby washes clothes. But this is a time when you are entitled to steal back a nap time. Avoid spending every second your children are occupied running around grabbing washing and figuring out what’s for dinner. Take 30 minutes for yourself every day (yes that is right, not a one-off, every day). Read a book, have a bath, eat chocolate whilst locked in the bathroom. Whatever it takes to steal back a little bit of ‘you’.
Remember this was never in the plan, no parenting manual covers a pandemic. We are parenting without instruction. If you manage none of the above, you are still achieving, simply in your survival of what will be one of our greatest parenting challenges.