The Many 'Hats of Mum'
We are at the end of the second full week of Lockdown 3.0 and this one feels so much more intense than the last one.
As a full time working mum who coaches lots of other mums it definitely feels like more plates are spinning this time. I feel like Mum’s are more frazzled and I think there are several reasons for this…
Hat 1: Mum/Teacher. The schools have definitely upped their games. We entered lockdown 1 with worksheets to complete and some online videos to watch. It wasn’t hugely inspiring or engaging and I don’t mind admitting Charlie did the bare minimum. This time around everyone I have spoken to have said that their kids schools have picked up the pace, which is great for the kids!
Charlie’s school is in the second week of Google classroom and already I can see a huge difference to how engaged he is and it's really great to be so involved in the learning. The teachers and school staff are doing a great job. However as parents, especially mums, this presents us with more of a challenge.
Last week Charlie had to teach ME long multiplication. He is forever explaining verbs, adverbs and many other parts of the English language to me (sorry Emma Scott-Smith) and he has to submit assignments daily (a perfectionists nightmare) plus keep up with Science, Art, Reading and Music. So it feels like I am back at school too.
I have quite a few teacher friends and I am open in my praise for them all, I honestly don’t know how they keep on keeping on but they do and it's amazing to me. Maybe it’s the wine….?
Hat 1 top tip: now is the perfect time to get the kids to learn how to use a Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia and Google. Skills for life. Plus I can’t spell.
Hat 2: Chef. Is it me or does everyone in the house seem to want feeding. ALL. THE. TIME?
Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, pudding, snack, pre bed nibble….
The term ‘hollow legs’ never rang so true. Even I feel like I am hungrier than normal. It’s probably a coping mechanism for all of us but honestly I do feel like I am in Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares - it's where I spend the second most time in my house outside of my office.
And because I am responsible for so much more creation in the kitchen (I can’t believe cooking used to be my ‘thing’) sometimes I dread it now, I find the thinking part of meal planning so much harder than it used to be.
Hat 2 top tip: Make the kids a packed lunch box with plenty of snacks or better still get them to make it. Tell them that they are in charge of when they eat it all and when it's gone, that's it until dinner. They will soon regret eating it all by 10am!
Hat 2 top tip: Make sure there are some easy meals in your weekly menu - I am a big fan of the pasta bake and I just chuck loads of veggies in it to improve the nutritional value. 30 minutes tops is all that will take and if you make enough it will do for lunch the next day. Winning!
Hat 2 top tip: Invest in a slow cooker if you don’t have one already. The things you can make in a slow cooker are endless - I have even seen cake recipes. It is honestly such a time saver. I often prep the food for the slow cooker the night before (whilst I am cooking that evening's dinner meaning less clearing up) and then throw it all together in the morning, whack it on low and by 6pm dinner is done.
Hat 3: Housekeeper. When wearing this hat you could be cleaning, washing, tidying, picking up 4 different hoodies from your 9 year old sons floor (true story). This is the hat that keeps on giving. The job that never ends and is never done. The mess that only you see. The things that only you care about apparently (until they aren’t done and then someone pipes up). Because it is so varied and so vast it builds up quickly and can upset you just as quickly.
Great, there is no school uniform to wash but still the washing baskets are filling (it’s so much easier for them to chuck it in the wash rather than put it away, even when it was only worn for 5 minutes).
Then with washing comes ironing. Personally I don’t do this but my husband won’t hear of that, therefore it's his job!
Then just the general cleaning and picking up after people. You could spend half a weekend doing all this stuff and still have more to do.
Hat 3 top tip: Do one job a day. Ok that might mean that the house never looks ‘perfect’ but no one is coming over anyway so why does it matter? Floors Monday, Ironing Tuesday, Bathrooms Wednesday - you get the idea. Don’t spend half your weekend doing it - you know by Sunday it won’t look any different!
Hat 3 top tip: Share the load. In my house I am a huge fan of sharing out the jobs. The other day Charlie swept and mopped the floors. Tom tends to clean the kitchen after I have cooked and does the ironing. Ask for help - if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Hat 4: Employee/boss/business owner. As if that wasn’t enough to do, most of us have to work. I don’t know about the rest of you, but what I see and hear is just how busy everyone's jobs are. Now if you do have a job I know you will be feeling hugely grateful because there are many that have lost their jobs, businesses or have been in and out of furlough and this has been tough for so many.
That being said, working plus being a mum is hard enough. But add to that the homeschooling and the fact everyone is under your feet in the house 24/7 all our jobs just got a whole lot harder.
Yep we are all used to the zoom/teams/skype meetings now. We know the Amazon man is coming at least once a day and the doorbell will always go right when you don’t want it to.
But when all that is going on and Charlie wants help with his Maths work (whilst I am on a really important video call) sometimes I just don’t know which way is up. I am grateful to have a job but this is hard!
Hat 4 top tip: talk to your boss/clients/team. Everyone is experiencing this slightly differently but we are all facing challenges. Be open and honest about the challenges of homeschool and working (and anything else going on right now). Ask for flexibility, ask for support.
And whilst I am at it this is a plea to anyone that is a boss. Please be understanding. Your teams are all working so hard right now - please show kindness and compassion.
Mum’s I see you. And I know you are also wearing other hats: Wife/Daughter/Sister/Friend/Carer (the list could go on). I see your struggle. I see you are tired. I see you need space.
What I also see is strength, passion, loyalty & love.
You have got this. We all have x
*I know there are many Dads out there that are doing this alone. I know you struggle too. But I am a Mum and wear the many Hats of Mum so I can only write from my point of view. Love to you guys too x