Great Britain

How isolating because of the coronavirus outbreak made me a better mum to my five kids

COMBINING the jobs of entertainer, teacher, cook and cleaner could be taking its toll on mums as families in lockdown can see tensions rise more rapidly than usual.

But could the crisis actually make us BETTER parents? One mum tells how it has helped her to take a fresh look at her role.

AS a working mum with kids aged three to 19, the past few years have made me feel like a hamster on a wheel, spinning out of control to get everything done.

I’d usually wake up with a sinking sense that shouting was the only way I’d get the kids up and out of the house by 8am.

“You’re my mum, not a sergeant major,” my son Jimmy, 19, would moan when I pummelled on his bedroom door, bellowing at him that he’d miss his bus to college.

In the kitchen, I’d nag Dolly, 16, about homework while rushing my younger kids Evangeline, seven, Dash, five, and Lester, three, through breakfast.

Once, in my rush to get to school and still catch the train to work, I sent Dash to class in two left shoes. At 44, I am part of the generation that’s grown up trying to have it all.


When I was a child in the 1970s, less than 50 per cent of women worked at all, and while I’m proud of my career, I know the pressure I put myself under to work and bring up my family isn’t something my mum bothered about.

My kids are all at state school and with after-school clubs aplenty, we’re always rushing to something. It’s not just my daily mad dash from school gate to my desk that ramps up the pressure.

We all want to feel like we’re living our best lives in our free time, whether that’s trips to the gym, meeting pals for a drink or the occasional night away. Recently I’ve found myself dropping plates more than I like to admit.

I’m not alone. More than three quarters of mums aged 25 to 54 work full-time, and all my mum friends privately admit how wearing the daily juggle is.

So it’s come as a surprise that these days of mass isolation have proved a blessing in disguise. They’ve given me, and working mums everywhere, a chance to step off that hamster wheel.

Now there’s no scramble to find school shoes. I don’t even care if the kids wear socks all morning and they can brush their teeth when they like, as long as it’s some time before lunch. There might be Lego all over the floor but, despite the chaos, there’s a feeling of messy contentment in our kitchen.

Accepting the fact the kids would be at home all day every day wasn’t easy, but once I did, I relaxed. Two weeks into lockdown and this weird time is actually turning me into a happier, dare I say it, better mum.

I’m well aware how serious the need to stay at home is, and I know we’re some of the lucky ones. My husband Pete and I can do most of our work from home, and we have a back garden.

But since we’ve got no option but to roll up our sleeves and muck in with each other to make our family finances work, we’ve been surprised by how much we’ve enjoyed this enforced time with the kids.

I usually struggle to get the kids to do homework, but without the pressure of tests, Dash and Evangeline sit at the kitchen table, practising their handwriting and writing stories without me nagging.


With no school run to be late for, and no commute to work, I’ve gained at least two hours a day, which I can now spend playing shops with Evangeline, or making a train track with Dash and Lester, something I’m usually far too “busy” to bother with.

Lockdown has taken things right back to basics, and with no social life to distract me, I’m looking more closely at what really matters — my husband and our kids. Stuck inside, we’ve had to create entertainment I wouldn’t have had time for in the past.

I’ve dug out an old sewing kit I found and have been trying to make dolls’ clothes for my daughter, while my husband has started a 1,000- piece puzzle with the kids.

We’ve had games evenings and movie nights together, and I’ve read more books aloud to the kids than I have in years. And with nowhere else to go, even the teenagers have joined in.

For the first time in ages, I can feel my entire family pulling in the same direction. Chipping in with the washing-up rota, folding washing or cooking a family meal is suddenly a welcome distraction.

And distraction is what we need at the moment, since there’s no escaping the grim news. I hope I’m doing my bit by keeping my big family at home.

“Mummy, I wish you could always be my teacher,” Evangeline said to me last night as we curled up on the sofa reading Roald Dahl. It was the best thing I’ve heard in months.

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