As my wife and I walked around the show home, of the 5 bedroom detached house we had been working towards for the last few years; the children running around deciding which bedroom would be theirs, and generally causing havoc as toddlers tend to do, we really started to envision our lives in this potential new home. Like many new home buyers before us we had fallen in love with the lifestyle this property would afford us and felt gratified that the years of hard work had allowed us to even consider being able to buy it.
We had a plan for 2020. For our business, and careers. For our children. One of whom will start school in September. Hard work, determination and the plan had started to pay off.
Or so we thought.
Fast forward a mere 5 weeks, and the rug has well and truly been pulled out from under our dream. As I write this, I have just spent my 12th consecutive day confined to a home in chaos. You see, when you have two working parents, focused and successful within their own careers, and you then add 2 young, very boisterous and loud- so loud, little boys in to the equation, you end up with carnage when you cannot leave your home. I am not exaggerating this. I genuinely mean they have two volumes. Screaming, and “my head is about to explode- use your indoors voice”.
My wife and I currently juggle the ability to work from home, and control, manage, suppress, and survive a 2 year old and a 4 year old – who like caged animals bought in from the wild are desperate to escape, spend time with their peers, and enjoy the things they so readily took for granted most days. Childcare is expensive but proving rapidly to be worth every penny. Not only to create balance within the lives of busy working parents, but more importantly, to aid in the development socially, and otherwise of young children as they learn to integrate within society as well-balanced human beings. I’m not sure this quarantine lockdown is doing anything to help that development in any way. It worries me considerably that such young children, and of course not just our own, are missing out on important development time before they are expected to start school. No amount of home-schooling activities can replicate the bonds, social interaction skills and friendships that are built at such young ages.
You see, the challenge with such young children in a quarantine environment isn’t entertaining them constantly and keeping them busy. It isn’t trying to win an argument, you just will never win, because, well they have more energy, and determination to do thing that might injure them, that you’ve told them 1 million times to not do, because of the possible outcome. No, It’s keeping your sanity whilst trying to juggle what little remains of the business and careers you worked so hard to build, from the confines of your prison like home, and help develop and nurture such enthusiastic and energetic creatures as the human toddler.
I am writing this in the evening. It’s getting late, and I am very conscious of the time. You see, a typical day in “toddlertine” will start at approximately 5am. You see, we moved the clocks forward, and messed with their internal clocks. It is also getting lighter in the mornings, and no amount of – “it’s still the middle of the night” kind of chat is going to convince the toddlers you’re right when they can see the light around the blackout blinds.
The running, shouting, screaming and arguing over who had the toy first – it’s usually the younger one who did, and the older one who realises he is twice the size of the younger one, who just takes what he wants. It’s pretty much how international affairs play out, on a micro basis. The shouting and arguing starts and the UN [Parents] have to step in before the bigger toddler [America- allegedly] decide to crush the opponent [2 year old].
Breakfast involves a battle and negotiation around convincing a 4 year old to eat – literally anything normal for breakfast, and a 2 year old that not everything that is put in front of him to eat is “yukky”. Some days this is where we break.
Then comes the fun bit. Trying to work, and entertain the children in a developmental way, which doesn’t involve Sky Tv, or YouTube videos for too much of the day. Our days progress and consist mainly of the children screaming and shouting at us for something, or inadvertently trying to kill each other, at highly inappropriate times such as during compliance calls with regulators, or on the phone with clients or colleagues.
Quarantine with toddlers is tough. It’s even tougher when they are energetic, and boisterous, and I am sure parents trying to juggle this with children with special needs are struggling even more.
But this is what we do now. There is no other option. There is no escape from this situation until the quarantine is lifted, and the lock down removed. As I write this, we are 14 days in to an initial 21 day period, and it is highly likely that period will be extended not for further days or weeks, but likely months. This situation will become the new normal and finding our way in the interim, juggling the demands of trying to keep together everything you have worked for, and the pressures that will come with that mammoth task ahead, will need to be a second priority to ensuring that young children, with energy and development needs are able to thrive in what is the most challenging environment the UK has faced since the second world war.
Life as we know it has for the time being changed. It is for many on hold, and the future is unclear. As stressful as it can be quarantined with 2 very young children, I do genuinely believe that it is a blessing to be able to spend so much time with my children and the bonds that are developed during this time will be a benefit for the duration of their childhood.
I’d love to hear your quarantine stories in the comments below