Self-isolation for the single working parent.

I wake at 7am. Or, try to, that is.

I’m washed and dressed, coffee in hand and back in my bedroom by 7.45.

8am – work calls me, and I attempt to hear the meeting that is going on through loudspeaker, with three other staff also absent through Covid so most of the meeting is people repeating stuff for our benefit.

8.30 the call ends, I sigh in relief and then Wild Card calls so I smile in happiness. Ten minutes of gazing lovingly at him and we’ve kissed goodbye and wished each other a good day.

By now, my youngest is waking. We go downstairs, I fix him breakfast (telling him not to spill his cereal again), make another coffee, and then take a smoothie and my teen son’s ADHD meds to him. It takes around 10 minutes, if not longer, to get him awake enough to drink the smoothie. He won’t eat food but needs something in his stomach for his meds.

By the time he has had it and I have shouted my daughter to get up, the angst that I haven’t done enough work yet has arrived.

I quickly settle at the kitchen table and get to work whilst my youngest finishes his breakfast and watches TV.

When I feel I have done enough work to ease the guilt and fear, I then work on easing the guilt that my 6 year old hasn’t learnt anything valuable yet.

We start some school work. I set him off and attempt to carry on with my own but he won’t work unless I watch him. I shut the laptop.

After around half an hour, he then goes for a ‘break’ and I do some more work. For the first 5 minutes, I check emails to ensure I am not in trouble for not being glued to my laptop, then try to remember what I was doing before attempting to educate my child.

After around an hour, I realise that my child has been glued to a game for too long and I still haven’t seen my teens. I figure I’ve also earned a comfort break and another cuppa.

I go upstairs and wake both teens again. This time I get some acknowledgement but I still don’t have time to stay in their rooms to make sure they actually get up…I need to get my poorly educated 6 year old off his game.

Round two of primary school teaching and whilst I enjoy it and am proud of his efforts, I’ve not been on my laptop for nearly 45 minutes now. Plus, its nearly lunch time.

I applaud his efforts, make his lunch, try to load the dishwasher and empty the washing machine, grab something to eat myself and guiltily get back to work. That break was too long…

After around another hour, I realise my eldest two are still not up. I go upstairs again, warning my youngest that we will start work again soon. He groans.

My daughter mutters something probably unpleasant when I shout at her to get up. I tell her she needs to feed the pets. When I go to my son, he is awake but still in bed. He is glued to his phone. He claims, bleary eyed, that he has completed some maths homework. I don’t believe him but have to get back to the guilty seesaw of my own work and teaching my youngest. I tell him to get up even though he declines food.

Back downstairs and I realise that the dog hasn’t been out in a while. I try not to catch his eye as I open the door – he will just make me feel bad. I load the washer again as I pass, then bribe my youngest back to the table. We do some more work whilst I attempt to check my emails without him seeing. It rarely works. He’s getting fed up now.

The strain of guilt about my own work is too strong and I eventually give in to his complaints and allow him to stop. I attempt to suggest that he could watch something educational on YouTube. I get nowhere, and as I am now sporting a headache, give up.

Just as I am finally getting somewhere with my work, my daughter comes down and starts to tell me about her latest conversation with her nearly boyfriend. I’m so happy that she is confiding me but I really need to finish this task and send it via email so everyone knows I have actually been working from home and not watching daytime TV.

She disappears for a shower and I realise that I am going to have to feed the pets as she will now be hours. It’s OK though, I’ve emailed my last bit of work so I have a few minutes before anyone realises I’m not working.

I feed the pets and, because he is always hungry, give my youngest a snack so his teeth can rot as well as his mind. My teen son then comes downstairs, finally, telling me he may have done some Geography or it may have been Science. My stomach sinks but I try to stay positive. At least he is pretending to work and not having a full ADHD meltdown.

He is hungry however, but I figure that my last email can buy me a few more minutes and at least he is eating (as the meds make him feel sick) so that justifies me making him something he could probably make himself. Plus, the cat has used the litter and my youngest is now half-complaining, half gagging. I start to prepare my son some food – nothing nutritious as his (probably autistics influenced) eating habits are awful and I don’t have time to make the two nutritious meals he will actually eat. Super noodles it is, then.

Whilst they cook, I tell my youngest to stop over-reacting (everyone has a poo) and take out the cat litter, trying to hide the fact that I am gagging too.

I wash my hands at least twice, scowl at the cat, ignore that my youngest is back on his game, ignore the clawing guilt that I’m still not working, try to ignore the rising excitement that Wild Card finishes work soon and take my son’s noodles to him upstairs. There is no way I could work if both boys were in the same room. No. Way.

I give my now-medicated teen his dinner, remind him to do ‘more’ school work and take down his breakfast dishes. I pick up the various wet towels my daughter had left on the couch, put the lid back on the squash and the butter which she has left out, and give my still hungry youngest a piece of melon and a drink. I shout up to my daughter to remind her that I have an online meeting soon and she promised to watch her brother. I silently hope that the meeting goes quickly so I can answer the phone when Wild Card calls me.

The meeting is boring and the video freezes at least twice. It is OK though as that allows me to finish and email some more work. Time efficiency. 😁 There is a challenging moment when my youngest barges into my room and demands that he stays with me. It’s OK though as I had foresaw this problem and had turned off my mic and camera. Also so they couldn’t see my eye bags, messy hair and generally stressed expression.

He leaves (bribery), the meeting eventually ends and happily, it is around the time that Wild Card calls. I fix my appearance, tactically ignore the now concealer covered eye bags and go downstairs to make a fire as the house is now freezing.

Just as the fire lights, my heart lights up as Wild Card calls. My whole body smiles and we talk as he drives home. I spend the whole conversation wishing I was kissing his lips. Never mind.

I watch him walk into his house, wash (yum) and change out of his work clothes (yummier). We chat for another 5 minutes or so and he tells me he will call me later. Virtual kisses and I love yous.

I check the fire, feed the dog then start to clean the kitchen. Again. I speak to my ex to discover that whilst his Covid symptoms are easing, he has been signed off for two weeks. The exhausted part of my brain (pretty much all of it) hopes that he makes a speedy recovery as I am sure he must be missing his children particularly as the four of us have been locked in this house now for ten days (thankfully fit and well) whilst he has been unwell and (thankfully) recovering. He says ‘we’ll see.’ Hmmmm.

Teen son and daughter are now asking repeatedly ‘what is for tea?’ I wish I knew because the embarrassing amount of online shopping I ordered has somehow disappeared even though I swear both teens spend 20 out of 24 hours asleep. After some arguing, I end up making three different meals. At least these are nutritious and homemade. I tell myself it cancels out the rubbish they have eaten at lunch.

I tell my kids that I am now going to sit in the other room to spend time with the dog who has been whining since the elder two got up and will chase the cats if I let him in the kitchen.

I feed the dog, and before I get to sit down realise that we need more wood and coal for the fire. Outside I go.

Fire stoked, dog played with (soggy toy on my lap repeatedly) and Wildcard calls again. We talk for around an hour, interrupted repeatedly by my kids (hungry again/arguing/lost something/ talking to Wildcard too) before kisses goodbye. My heart sinks as I close the phone and I try not think how long it will be until I feel those soft lips on mine again for real. Stupid Covid.

By this point, my teen son’s meds have wore off and he is bounding around the place, annoying his siblings. After interjecting repeatedly, I finally get him to stop tormenting his brother and persuade him that he is unlikely to get the new xbox anytime this decade.

I check my emails one last time to make sure I’ve not missed anything then it is time to take my youngest to bed. We cuddle, I read to him, then spend ten minutes arguing with him that he can’t sleep in my bed, he is not hungry and he can’t have five more minutes. Don’t even talk to me about getting him to brush his teeth.

I finally spend a little time with my teens. It is hard though as a) they are full of energy and b) I feel like a zombie. And there is wet washing still in the machine and the last lot of dishes haven’t washed properly so will need to be handwashed. Particularly the pans my daughter uses everyday and burns egg/beans or anything else on them. At least she cooks for herself though I wonder if I am really saving on energy as I scour the pan.

I eventually make my way to bed. I persuade myself to take off my makeup even though I can’t be bothered. I want both teens not to be up too late (I know they will be but I can’t keep my eyes open any longer).

I lie in bed, and can’t sleep. I miss Wildcard and my mind keeps reminiscing on when we together. I wonder if work really are monitoring how much time I am on my laptop. I feel bad as I haven’t spoken to my sisters again. I hope my ex is OK and guiltily wonder when he will be having the children again. After sending both my teens a final message to ‘GO TO SLEEP’. I finally go to sleep knowing this will all happen again tomorrow and wondering if I will ever feel like a good mother.

9 thoughts on “Self-isolation for the single working parent.

  1. Yes. All of that. I try to get the teens to do more, and nag them about clearing up after themselves. But if you’re that stressed already, you tend to just do it yourself (and get a little bit more annoyed and hopeless in the process). I recently bought a student’s cookbook for my daughter, who used to be home alone while I was at work. I really like it because the recipes are simple and quick to make, and my daughter can pick out something and make it for herself, without having to shop for exotic ingredients first. It’s called nosh for students, and there are many different ones, covering veggie/non veggie etc: https://noshbooks.com/category/our-books/
    Maybe this will entice your teens a bit, they’ll have to learn sooner or later anyway…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Admittedly, my nagging seems to fall on deaf ears nowadays. This groundhog day is seriously beginning to drive me crazy. Hopeless and annoyed sums it up perfectly

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One of the things I had to come to terms with is that I’m doing the work of two people and I’m just one. Still in a life made for two. We’ll never catch up! And that’s ok. It’s just learning to simplify and staying in the moment. Easier said than done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it just! And trying to explain that to my children – that I can’t do everything and need a break sometimes- is very difficult. Makes us stronger people though, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! Kids phone especially teenagers end put themselves at the center of the universe. I know that’s a normal stage of development but it is sometimes hard when you need to fill your own tanks before you can feel theirs:-). Sending you a hug and a wish for a cup of tea and a good book so you can refuel.

        Liked by 1 person

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