It’s been a long old time since I properly sat down and wrote a post on here, over a year probably. Unless you live on the moon you will be well aware of the unprecedented times of the last four months and the lockdown of the UK, amongst most countries in the world. I thought I would share how I’ve handled lockdown and chronic fatigue syndrome as a parent, if for no other purpose than for us to look back on in years to come.
The beginning of lockdown came with mixed feelings for me – an almost excitement at the anticipation of being a part of something that had never happened in the world before alongside fear of exactly that. I decided I wanted a vegetable patch, compost heap, water buckets and chickens as we needed to be self sufficient should the apocalypse arise (it’s always been one of my biggest fears so to feel we might actually be living it was pretty intense). John advised me I might be overreacting slightly so we just stuck to the vegetable patch, with the thinking it might be educational for the kids too (cut to four months later where no one has lifted a finger but me).
I also felt a slight happiness at having the children at home and not having to do school runs and being able to spend some quality time with them. As most of you may know I have chronic fatigue so there was definitely a wariness on how we would manage it, but we went into things pretty gung ho.
And that lasted a good few weeks. I dragged myself out of bed, wrote up a schedule for the kids and got stuck into printing forests’ worth of resources from Twinkl as well as buying out Amazon for things to keep them occupied as well as educated. We did projects, we kept up to journals and I took lots of photos to send to teachers as well as for us to look back on.
However the chronic fatigue soon took over and the work slipped. I started struggling with insomnia and it could be anything from 1am until 6.30am before I got to sleep. I would lay for hours in bed, listening to meditations, sipping Ovaltine and sniffing whatever essence is supposed to make you drowsy, but still laying there wide awake. Of course this meant I then wasn’t getting up until at least lunchtime and when I did I was in no fit state to educate. It weighed really heavily on me how much I was failing and my mood got really low. It doesn’t help when you sit staring at social media at how well everyone else seemed to be doing, I felt like my children we being let down by me, and my husband was having to not only work a 70 hour week from home, but manage the house and children on top of that.
Eventually I spoke to the doctor who has put me on some drowsy anti histamines. To actually lay in bed and BE TIRED was a revelation, so they’ve definitely help with my sleep. Of course these things make you drowsy long into the next day so I am still not waking before lunch and am pretty out of it for most of the day. After getting myself really fed up a month ago I decided to take the pressure off trying to parent during a lockdown with chronic fatigue syndrome and give up on homeschooling. The stress of it was just too much and the guilt at trying and failing repeatedly to get the work done was not worth it any more. I have to say that decision made such a difference.
Over the last few weeks I have definitely felt somewhat better however I am still missing out on a huge chunk of the day. I am counting down until September, which makes me really sad and again guilty, as I don’t want to wish the kids’ time away, I know it goes so fast. A lot of the time they are in their bedrooms on their ipads or playstation as I can’t even tolerate their presence due to being so overwrought, and I have zero patience. Reflecting on how I expected lockdown to be and how it has ended up makes me sad.
It doesn’t need saying that this illness takes so much away from people, and as a parent time and energy to be with your children is one of the hardest things to lose. I have shed many a tear over the guilt. Family and friends remind me repeatedly that the kids are fine, they don’t know any different and that many parents won’t have done much with their children, but none of that takes away how I feel. When you plan to be a parent you have ideas in your head about how it will be and to not live up to those is such a hard pill to swallow. I can only hope when September arrives and the return to school, however that may be, that things will ease up in my mind and I can somehow return to the normality we had pre-lockdown. And to think, I felt things were hard back then!
I do wonder how other parents who have struggles over coped themselves, I am sure I am not on my own. I would love to heard how you have felt over this difficult time.