I’ve refrained from writing about what our life is like in lockdown up until now as, I imagine, it’s not too dissimilar to what is happening in households all around the world at the moment. We’re very thankful to all the key workers who put themselves at risk, day in day out, and feel lucky that our main task right now is simply to stay at home.
Lately though, I’ve started having imaginary conversations with our toddler. I picture an older Miles asking questions about the early years of his life, confused about how we went from moving to New York for a couple of months one year and not leaving the house the next. I’ve captured on here all the adventures we had prior to 2020, why not document for him what it was like staying at home during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Right now, he’s too little to notice any difference. In fact, as I’ve always worked from home, the general format of our day is not so different in lockdown – we’ve just temporarily removed all those play dates, coffee dates, soft play and other things we did outside the house in-between naps that kept me sane!
We’re safe though so that is obviously much more important.
Travel blogging during a pandemic
To say I’m working right now wouldn’t be entirely correct. All the freelance writing, campaigns, sponsored posts etc I used to work on before the virus hit have been postponed or cancelled altogether. A big part of my income used to come from advertising and affiliate sales, but as no one has been researching or booking travel for the last few weeks that’s also plummeted by up to 90%.
(A situation I’m aware is not just unique to me/ my industry. This pandemic has been brutal to so many businesses, especially those in the travel industry.)
Like many of you, we had to cancel trips I would have been writing about and, with uncertainty around when we’ll be able to travel again, I have no imminent deadlines to work with.
To be honest, it has been quite difficult to stay motivated in such unusual circumstances.
Writing, however, is my creative outlet and brings me some joy during these repetitive anxious days, so I’ve still been blogging during naps to bring (hopefully) relevant content to this audience and keep the cogs in my brain whirring.
This week, I’ve seen a small increase in traffic, which suggests to me that people are starting to plan and dream about travel again, albeit for quite a few months down the line. I’ve also had some helpful conversations with travel industry friends around what the future of travel potentially looks like.
So, while things have been slow for me for the last few months, I’m feeling more hopeful and inspired this week, and have some ideas to work on that I hope will help readers plan trips safely and responsibly into next year.
Mercifully, my husband’s industry hasn’t been so badly affected and one positive to come from all this is that he is around a lot more now. Justin’s old commute to London would see him leave before Miles woke up and arrive home after he went to bed, giving them little time together during the week and me some very long hours of negotiating with a toddler. A little pressure has now been taken off me in the mornings and evenings. (Ironically giving me more time to work when I have less to work with!)
After a few weeks of playing a game of ‘why are you doing it like that?’ where nobody wins (I saw this joke on Twitter and thought it summed up our marriage in lockdown perfectly) we have settled into a little routine, which is in some ways more beneficial to our family than our pre-lockdown days. We take turns to do the weekly shop, have regular video calls with our friends and families, and have spent quality time as a threesome, which (ironically, again) we used to only get on holiday.
Working from home with a toddler in lockdown
For anyone interested in the nitty gritty of our lockdown routine, here’s what my days look like as a freelance mum with a young toddler.
7.00 Get up and have breakfast. Justin and I take turns to have a shower while the other plays with Miles.
9.30 – 10.30 Miles naps. I’ve recently cut this first nap down from 90 mins as he was struggling to go down in the afternoon if I let him sleep as long as he wanted. At 15 months old I appreciate we’re lucky he still seems keen to go down twice in the day and get 12 hours at night. (If anyone with an older toddler is thinking ‘she’s got a shock coming when he goes down to 1 nap’ you are absolutely correct.) This is my first work window of the day where I tend to do most of my writing at the dining table while swigging coffee.
10.30 We often stream an online music class or toddler activity in this window to burn off some steam before lunch. We rotate between Music With Mummy (a class we did in person before the virus), Captain Fantastic, Ragdolly Annas and some of the others I featured in my blog post.
Miles might do these alone while I do jobs or I might join in, depending on what I have on and whether he’s feeling clingy that day. This may change, but he’s always been pretty independent and is happy to play alone for periods of time with me pottering about the background.
I’m also a fan of the old toy rotation trick. I mix up the books, puzzles, games etc that Miles has access to every couple of days and set up different toys to play with after naptime, so he thinks he has all these new things but really they were just in his room for 2 weeks.
Every now and then we’ll try different arts, crafts or messy play and, by and large, Miles will eat the activity and its game over in 10 minutes!
We’re also working our way through many of these indoor activities for babies and toddlers.
12.00 Lunch. Ideally in the garden so there’s less mess to clean up. On a dry day we’ll potter in the garden afterwards, playing with his tepee and water table and eating stones. (Him, not me.) If it’s raining we’ll do something inside while I watch the clock and will it to inch towards 1.30.
1.30 – 3.00 Afternoon nap. This is when I try to turn the blurb I wrote in the morning into something legible. I might edit images, upload a blog post, create pins or post on social media. It takes me a couple of days to get one piece of content live as I work in short bursts like this. This is also the time I might have a client call or take part in a webinar, if the timings match up with Miles sleeping.
3.00 – 4.00 Daily walk. Thank goodness for the hour we’re allowed outside. I save our 1 hour of permitted outdoor exercise for the afternoon as this is the point when Miles literally starts trying to climb the walls.
Miles learned to walk during lockdown. He took his first steps onto my yoga mat while I was doing a Yoga With Adriene tutorial in March and had his first outdoor walk in the local park shortly after. Now we head to the same patch of grass every day and he practically runs after dogs, birds, balls and other children, while I chase after him, frantic about social distancing.
4.00 – 5.00 More play and a lot of The Wiggles. Basically, most of my day is spent swerving Miles’ pleas to watch the Wiggles. (Or Bugga Bugga as he calls it after the Toot Toot Chugga Chugga song!) I’m not opposed to the screen time, there’s just a limit to how long I can listen to their annoyingly catchy tunes. What typically happens is I finally give in at 4pm, just for him to wander off and play with something, leaving me alone with the colourful foursome while folding the washing.
5.00 Dinner time for Miles. (We eat when he’s in bed but I’ll often make it earlier, so it just has to be warmed up.) I’ve got into the habit of watching the Government’s Daily Briefing on the BBC at this time. I avoid news for most of the day but routinely switch on for an hour or so at 5, willing that curve to be flattened and for there not to be any more deaths reported. I’ve become morosely addicted to the government’s charts on infection and death rates, their repetition of the mantra ‘stay home, save lives, protect the NHS’ and expert swerving of questions relating to PPE, masks, tests, and easing restrictions with the phrase ‘we’re following the science’.
6.00 Bath time. Justin takes over with Miles at this point while I finish off anything timely/ read/ watch trash TV/ stare into space blankly.
6.45 Milk, book and bed for the little man.
7.00 Dinner, TV, books, Zoom catch ups and aimless social media scrolling until bed around 10.30pm for us. I find myself going to bed later in lockdown. I think it’s my way of trying to hold off waking up and having to do the above all over again!
If this all sounds a little too stress-free it’s because for the sake of brevity I’ve removed the multiple nappy changes, cleaning of face, hands, bum, walls and floors, and endless repetition of the phrases ‘get down’ ‘that’s dirty’ ‘careful’ ‘food stays on the tray’ and ‘STOP’.
I’ve rearranged our house multiple times as Miles finds more ways to prove it’s not child-proof. The more time we spend at home trying to save lives, the more ways he finds to put his in danger! I’ve had to take down prints, replace socket covers with more robust boxes, and constantly rearrange the living room as he figures out how to climb on or over different surfaces like the window ledges.
It can feel like Groundhog Day, but I find sticking to a routine like this makes the week feel more manageable somehow. Although, my goodness, the days where Miles resists a nap feel like an eternity.
How are you getting through lockdown?
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