In which Vicki Sigston shares her experiences of trying to maintain family order in this strange new world..
As I write this my family are on Day 51 of lockdown.
Day 51 of not being able to spend time, in person, with friends and family.
Day 51 of work looking very different as I learn to use Zoom, WhatsApp groups and juggle family life with working from home.
Day 51 of clubs, sports and hobbies usually done away from home being cancelled.
We know that all of this is for a very good reason – Coronavirus has the potential to make many people very poorly and we are trying to stop our NHS being overwhelmed. We are trying to keep the most vulnerable in society safe and we are trying to stop more heartache.
There are huge costs to society right now. I know many of you reading this are struggling emotionally, financially and physically. I send huge love and light to each and every one of you at this hard time.
In this piece though I want to write about a hidden danger of quarantine with your children. Losing the ability to stay in charge.
Anyone reading this who knows me will now be laughing “Vicki!” they will say “how can you pretend to have ever been in charge of your feral children?!”.
I understand them not believing me.
But it’s true, I was in charge.
You see, I had leverage. They needed me. They needed me as a taxi driver to ferry them to play dates, clubs, social engagements and fun activities.
They needed me as picnic maker and food organiser to keep them well fed and watered on our many excursions.
They needed me as bank teller as I financed their various lifestyle choices – Judo, rock climbing and kayaking don’t come cheap you know!
And so, because they needed me I could call the shots –
“Come on boys, get dressed in 5 minutes or we won’t be able to go rock climbing”
“Can you please help me with this because then we’ll have more time in the park with so and so”
“Can we finish our breakfast a bit faster please, your water sports friends are waiting”
I have no leverage..
“Please get dressed in 5 minutes otherwise we’ll be late into the back garden” just doesn’t have the same affect.
“Can you please help me with this so we’ll have more time in the front room with your brother” is not a sentence a 12 year old responds well to.
“Finish your breakfast a bit faster because..” Well I actually can’t finish that sentence because right now it really doesn’t matter!!
Routine has disappeared. They are no longer in need of a taxi driver, picnic maker, PA. or bank teller – they are walking everywhere, are more than capable of opening the fridge themselves and they don’t need money to spend time in their bedrooms.
Now, I need them! I have to get them agreeing with me. If I work hard I can get one child on my side in the hope of overruling the other. But it’s rare that it works – and it’s rare because they know I’ve got nothing!
They know I am weak and without ammunition and so my weeks are spent in a daze of telling myself that it matters not that we went for a walk in our PJs. It matters not that the trampoline has become the official dining room for anyone under the age of 13 (breakfast lunch and dinner most days). It matters not that screens are on much more than usual (at least David Attenborough is educational).
And in all honesty it’s true that none of that matters. We are not stuck at home, we are safe at home, and that’s perfectly fine with me. So okay let the tyrants, sorry, children win – for now – soon I’ll be back, stronger than ever.. right?!
Vicki Sigston is an Antenatal Practitioner and Breastfeeding Counsellor currently living in Medway. She and her husband have 2 boys that they home educate with support from Medway’s incredible home ed community. You can follow her work life on Facebook and Instagram.
Vicki has a website called Mum of 2 Boys that she likes to post (hopefully) useful bits and pieces on too. She also suffers with a chronic condition called Endometriosis and she shares her journey with all of that here.