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He is all those things

I have been thinking about writing a blog for a few weeks and have really struggled to think of something to share and something people can relate to. Eventually, it came to me to share my families experience through COVID-19.

When it was announced that schools would close, I thought, "It will be ok." I hopped in my car, nipped to Wilko, bought some arts and crafts stuff, more pencils and paper etc. I got home and had a look online at ideas for homeschooling and thought, it will be fine, Eddie will be home, his work will close as it’s not essential is it??? I thought, he can do lots of work with Alfie and they can play all day while I concentrate on work.

As the days passed, Eddie’s work didn’t close and my work became more intense, as a result, Alfie got less and less of my time!

I continuously saw on social media mums being ‘teachers’, it made me feel so bad! Long walks in the countryside, arts and crafts, maths, reading together, spellings and mostly having fun.

People writing how thankful they were for family time and spending special moments together, we tried to do this, I tried to make it special but I felt worse and worse. Work got busier and busier, more calls, more meetings, all whilst my lovely boy watched another film because, "Mummy has another meeting," and “Daddy is at work.”

I can’t explain the feeling I have towards those parents being able to spend so much time with their children and the wishing that I could do that, but then the reminder and the importance of my work and how people needed me.

One evening, I suddenly realised it had been weeks since I last read with Alfie, we sat down to read a book as we always have done and he was devastated because I made him read! I was distraught, how could I forget to read with my boy?

Alfie fills his days using his wonderful imagination, he has so many toys, he builds villages and towns, theme parks and schools! He spends time (usually when I am in a meeting) on his tablet! This keeps him very quiet, my work colleagues often ask, "What do you do with him? We never see him or hear him!" I was even asked if I tape him to the floor! (I promise, I do not do this!)

After a month or so, we eventually got into a routine of some sort, very different to what I had imagined (both of us sat together at the dining room table me working, Alfie next to me doing his schoolwork).

Our routine is, we are usually ready for the day by 7:30, we have breakfast together and usually a quick play in the garden.

By 8:30 my work calls usually start, so he will play in his room for a while. During the morning, when I have a quiet half an hour, sometimes its only 10 mins, I quickly shoo him outside for a run around. When back in, he might watch a film for a while until lunchtime. I try most days to have lunch together, sometimes it’s impossible! Occasionally, I will pre-make him a sandwich and he will get it when he’s ready, other times (only a couple of times I promise) I’ve forgotten our lunch, and I’ll find him rummaging in the fridge around half-past one.

After lunch he always knows it’s not too long until dad gets home, about 3 pm. He will spend time on his tablet, usually watching Ryan’s Mystery Playdate or how to make a marble run or how to build a fort from boxes.

Once dad’s home, it is playtime! I hear them playing upstairs or jumping and running in the garden, again that pang of jealousy of, "I wish I could do that.”

We usually drink tea about 5:30 pm, after I finish my work. Then we tidy up, Alfie bathes and gets his pj's on, by this time it’s usually around 6:30 pm. Some days I try to do some schoolwork or he reads to me but he is usually tired by this time (so am I). I am grumpy, impatient, needing an hour of quiet! So, schoolwork doesn’t always happen.

Weekends are fun! We spend time together, in the garden, walking our waffle doggy, building, singing, dancing and always baking (usually something that does not turn out too great but always tastes good). We write letters to grandparents, send pictures, cards, and photos. This is schoolwork, right? Learning how to half and double with 4 packets of skittles is schoolwork, yes??? Alfie learnt how to ride his bike without stabilisers too, now that is definitely schoolwork!

Whilst working from home I often get that pang of guilt for all those amazing members of the team working front line. The wish that I could be there, face to face, to tell them how amazing they are, to give the people we serve that hug or high 5, to tell them not to worry. The hope that one day I will be in the service's again and be in that buzz of people, and oh how I miss being in my car on those long journeys, they give me time to wind down before I get home, to think and to reflect on my actions and my day. Honestly, I am grateful I can be at home, I am grateful that I have a healthy family. I am grateful that I have people around me, Eddie, family, friends and work colleagues, who really put things into perspective and bring back the reality when I need it.

Finally, if anything these testing times has made me realise that, I need to take a leaf out of Alfie’s book. He is unreal, self-sufficient, understanding, thoughtful, imaginative, adaptable, happy and positive. He is all those things at only five years old.

Chloe Irving


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