13. Working from Home… With a Toddler… During a Pandemic

My scheduled work week looks like this, and in theory I should be working 2.5 days in the week…

Monday – work day

Tuesday – half day at work

Wednesday – day off

Thursday – work day

Friday – day off

Saturday / Sunday – weekend

…the reality of my working week, and day, is somewhat different…

Monday 7.36am

Husband comes home from night shift and goes straight into shower because…Covid, toddler wakes up, convince toddler to stay upstairs long enough so I can make the bed, tidy up, and change her nappy and clothes, stop her from going downstairs alone, encourage her to help me tidy, proceed to pick up the cushions she’s thrown on the floor for the umpteenth time, pick up the hair clips and hair bands sprawled across the room, find dummies lost in the night…husband comes upstairs and toddler proceeds to scream and run into me numerous times, because…well its ‘fun’…convince toddler to go downstairs…refuses to be picked up, or to hold hand, slides down the stairs laughing while I hold my breath.

Monday 8.04am

Go to the bathroom, toddler follows, husband starts on breakfast…toddler brushes teeth, and face, and sink, and throws brush in bath…then proceeds to cry as she wants me to get said toothbrush…while I’m mid-pee on the loo…clean up, wash hands, wash her toothbrush to put away…toddler cries, she wants her toothbrush back as she’s not done…wash her face, and give up on mine, walk out of bathroom…encouraging her to follow…she’s still crying about the toothbrush.

Monday 8.28am

Breakfast made, toddler strapped in chair, CBeebies on play…husbands making our breakfast, toddler wants iPad, CBeebies isn’t what she wants to watch, coasters on the floor, asks for magnets on the fridge, makes a tower, magnets thrown across the table for ‘fun’, wants stickers, there are no stickers, toddler still would like stickers and keeps asking and pointing, there are no stickers…distract toddler with breakfast, she replies with a ‘no’ and asks for water instead, takes one sip…proceeds to pour the rest of the water on the table, and now needs a cloth to clean up the table, and then cleans her faced, and while listening to a song about washing hands, decides she now needs to wash hers…husband sits down and toddler starts to eat breakfast, and then refuses, and then restarts, and then misses Elmo, go to find Elmo, decides Elmo is no longer of interest, and requests a reading book, get a reading book and apparently its the wrong one…husband convinces toddler that the food is delicious and they don’t need another book…she takes the iPad…and keeps changing between the shows, not watching anything longer than a few seconds at a time…I get two minutes to go to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth, hear a loud scream, and then tears…rush out to find out what’s happened, she wants Elmo again, and her food is on the floor.

Monday 9.17am

Look at the time, its a work day, I have a meeting, take water upstairs as there’s no time to sit and eat breakfast anymore. Hear laughter, and giggles, and tears and tantrums, and calls for mum, and a husband desperately trying to convince said toddler that mum will be back soon…all during my video call…then there is a moment of silence, maybe everything is fine downstairs, I should really be focussing on this meeting, decisions need to be made, oh wait she’s asking for stickers again, husband doesn’t understand what she’s asking for, try to telecommunicate with husband…they’re going out for a walk instead…hear her laughing and screaming through the house, her jackets on, but now she needs another nappy change, and she’s refusing to take off her jacket because she assumes that means she’s no longer going out…meeting ends, come downstairs to help, finally toddler cleaned up and strapped into pushchair, she waves goodbye and blows kisses, husband is going to do the shopping to give me time to work…

Monday 10.43am

Get a call, walk past cold breakfast, and back upstairs to my desk, simultaneously answer emails, student support workshop online starts, teach, deal with student queries, provide extra time slots for help and support with assignments that can’t be done as was intended because…Covid, others need extra support due to change in personal circumstances, one requests to speak to me after the session, ask all students to exit from the session so I can speak to said student. 3 students don’t leave the meeting, and don’t answer when I ask if they can still hear me, type messages to these students to ask them to turn off their video calls, 1 apologises and signs off, another one follows, third student nowhere to be seen, their mic is switched on, can hear them in the background…send email to student, and another 7 messages, finally he signs off, and I can speak to the student who had an issue. Mid-conversation, another student dials in and asks what time the workshop is, the workshop has ended, there is no more workshop, apologises, stays in meeting, proceed to sending him 3 messages and calling his name multiple times to ask him to exit from the video call, 3 minutes later he signs out…deal with issue at hand. More emails, another meeting is scheduled soon, maybe I can eat breakfast, hear the front door…

Monday 12.36pm

Toddler comes running in, and wants to help empty shopping bags, and brings item to kitchen, placing them on the floor, on the chair, on the table, in the passage, decides she wants to eat the onions she sees, really wants to eat the onions, gets distracted when she sees her Elmo who gets extra hugs, doesn’t want to take off her jacket or hat, runs around the house laughing while husband chases her to take off her jacket, she trips and bumps her head, cries and wants hugs, shopping is still all over the kitchen. Feed her lunch, and try to keep her interested for longer than a few minutes on the food. Food pieces all over the floor, iPad is on again and Bing is on. He has a balloon, so now she needs a balloon, oh wait his balloon has popped, toddler proceeds to cry because its popped. She asks for stickers…we have stickers…lifesaver husband bought some while he was out! Plays with stickers. Time for a nap…make a bottle, toddler doesn’t want a nap or husband to take her upstairs, we both go, runs around the bedroom as she doesn’t want a nappy change, or to change into PJs, sees computer is switched on so takes the mouse and keyboard to do some ‘work’… presses keys and multiple menus open, I have a tutorial soon, I panic, forget to save documents and switch off computer, take my notes downstairs to work from the iPad, toddler crying for me, husband convinces her to get into bed to sleep, he falls asleep too.

Monday 1.53pm

Breakfast..? Lunch? Sit down to eat, no time for anything else as tutorial starts with student

Monday 3.06pm

More emails, troubleshooting, iPad not allowing documents to open fast enough, internet connection slows down, give up and start working from phone using personal data as WiFi is giving me issues and testing my patience.

Monday 4.17pm

Hear tiny feet scrambling down the stairs, toddler walks in, wants hugs and to eat, doesn’t want a shower or to change clothes, doesn’t want to change her nappy, is grumpy and teary, and still yawning, decides she wants to play with her blocks. Gets bored of blocks and decides she needs to brush her teeth, so she takes us both to the bathroom, brushes her teeth and shows us how good she is at it, happily gets into bath, I leave to get her clothes and tidy the bedroom again, return and she’s refusing to get out of the bath, she doesn’t want the bubbles to stop. Husband convinces her to get out of bath, and now she doesn’t like her favourite jumper, doesn’t want to wear socks, runs out of bathroom with wet hair and one sock on, and is hungry.

Monday 6.23pm

Strapped in chair, comb and dry hair, put on other sock, start preparing dinner, husband puts on washing load, Monday night is his weekend and so it’s take-away night. We order food, and sit as a family for dinner. No energy to think, but still answering all her questions to keep her entertained between bites of food, whilst also replying to emails that have been coming in, all seemingly urgent. Counting down the hours until bedtime, dinner is finished so husband washes up, toddler decides she needs to take out plates from the cupboard, I clean the floor and mop the downstairs, toddler wants to help so pushes the mop with me, making it take twice as long, but she’s having fun.

Monday 7.57pm

Reading time, toddler not interested, decides she needs to play the running game, and wants us to also play and screams of laughter ensue, now decides we need to play with all the cuddly toys in the drawer, proceeds to empty the drawer and make a pile on my husbands foot, as the toys begin to fall she decides to instead play ‘catch’ so throw the toys up in the air and across the room and laughs, we start to talk, she doesn’t want us to, so interrupts us, sentences are left incomplete, stories untold, we give in and just play, and dance, and test each other’s patience. Toddler has her milk, wants to play with her blocks, pulls me to the mat too, we build towers, and then knock them over, again and again, and again…she’s still full of energy, husband starts to get things ready for bedtime, we all go upstairs because she doesn’t want to go with only one of us, gets ready for bed, decides she wants Elmo, I come back down to find Elmo, go back up and she’s running around in only her vest, suddenly decides she doesn’t want me to put her to bed and blows kisses and says goodnight.

Monday 10.03pm

Tidy up toys and put away dried washing load, empty bins, go to the bathroom, somehow had forgotten to go during the day, prepare for meeting and documents needed for teaching later on in the week. Find all the snacks. Husbands fallen asleep again too. Fox starts howling in the side street as per usual.

Tuesday 12.49am

Do a nappy change, head to bed, fall asleep mid-scrolling. 6 hours until we have to do it all over again…its only Tuesday…!

Sending positivity to all those juggling parenting, home schooling, and working from home, all during lockdown in the current pandemic 💖

12. Guiding Words for 2021

Inspired by Bibi Watts (bibi_watts) on Instagram, I thought it would be good to start this new year with some guiding words, instead of resolutions.

Now don’t get me wrong, I write a list of financial, spiritual, personal and fitness related goals every December for the upcoming year with my husband, and totally believe it helps shape our year and keeps us focussed.

Only this year I wanted to change things up a bit, as my list is currently looking a bit blank and I’ve felt hesitant and unsure about what to write down as my goals. FYI he’s had his list sorted for a number of days already, and that’s bugging me too 🤣

So, my 3 guiding words for 2021 are:

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11. Mental Health and Home

Its been a while since my last post, as I’ve suddenly become more active on my Instagram page, and writing meaningful captions for each post are taking away my creative juices from writing these longer blog posts (does anyone else feel like that?)…but here’s a life update…we’ve finally moved!

We were living in a 1 bed rented flat, that had more issues than you could count on one hand, and each month something else was going wrong. With a landlord/agent who weren’t really doing much about the issues, we had no other choice but to move, and I am so glad we did.

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10. Why Do You Choose To Wander?

Why do you choose to wander
Through the darkness all alone?

I’m searching for the part of me
I lost so long ago

The part that forms my identity
And my innermost soul

I’m looking for the peace I had
So I never let it go

The calm that was snatched from me
And the smiles I couldn’t show

I’m hoping for a clarity
To free me from this unknown

And lighten up the pathway
For the journey that I’m on

Why do I choose to wander
Through this darkness all alone?

I want to feel the life again
From my fingers to my toes

As I’m tired of being a shadow
Of the girl I used to know

9: Baby A’s Story – Congenital Heart Defect

The day of baby A’s birth was a calm and happy day. All staff involved in the c-section were positive and extremely supportive, and I was completely relaxed as a result. It wasn’t long before baby A was shown to me over the screen and all I remember is a head full of dark hair.

It was at this point that one of the surgeons called in the paediatric consultant, and all I heard was there was meconium present as she was born. As a result Baby A wasn’t handed to me for skin to skin, and instead was whisked away to have her oxygen levels and various other stats checked.

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8: Mental Health Awareness Week

I’ve been thinking about what to write, or how to begin, a post about mental health awareness – and every time I start this post there’s voices saying “don’t do it, don’t say it out loud”. But I know that’s probably the reason why I should.

I have met many people over the years who are suffering from a variety of mental health issues, and every year through my work I have more and more students who share their struggles with me too. I wish I had the ability to help them more than just being a listening ear and guidance on how to navigate their studies or training commitments , but I’ve learnt that often that’s enough and can ease the day to day pressures for them.

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7: I Don’t Present, I Teach

I don’t present,
I teach.
And sometimes that’s messy
With parts that are structured
And sometimes that means we
Diverge from what was thought of
We’re constantly assessing
Responding and progressing

I don’t present,
I teach.
So I responded, I adapted
I re-planned it all and reacted
I changed the way I taught
I tried to be interactive
I transferred it all online
And a new classroom was created

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6: The Pressure to Procreate

I always wanted a big family, ever since I can remember, and I used to wonder why my parents only had 4 children especially when they married so young. I had envisioned that after finishing studying, I would get married and have lots of children, and it never crossed my mind that things might not be as straight forward as this.

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5: Work-Life Balance

I’ve spent the last 16yrs working in some form or another, bar 9 months I spent learning Arabic in Alexandria, Egypt. I’m a trained secondary mathematics teacher, but have worked across the phases (primary, secondary and college), and have spent a decade or so in Teacher Education. Working in HEI (university) has always suited my lifestyle, with the flexibility of working on and off site, as well as allowing me the opportunity to travel to schools across London.

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4: Enchiladas

Today we made enchiladas…we’ll sort of. The first time I had enchiladas was at my brothers house and I was intrigued as to how this wrap, chicken, cheese and tomato dish was baked and tasted so good. On further investigation, it turns out that my sister-in-law had bought the “kit” and said it was quite straight forward to make. So I took it upon myself to buy the Old El Paso enchilada kit a couple of months later from my nearest store, only to find they were out of stock!

My only other option was to buy the ingredients separately and just make the sauce myself. And thus was born, “chicken and cheese wraps filled with tomatoey sauce and baked in a dish with more sauce and a sprinkle of cheese”.

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