When “back to normal” isn’t familiar

As the schools have begun to slowly re-open across Switzerland, many families welcomed this tentative return to normal, although perhaps also coupled with a sense of trepidation of how things will will work out over the next few months. Once again, as school classes are split and timetables amended, we find ourselves reminded that the “new normal” is still a long way from familiar.

Earlier this week, I came across the following article, written by Kathryn Wallace*, which captures some of the issues many of us may be facing at the moment. I have shamelessly copied it in full – if you enjoy reading it, please do take a look at Kathryn’s blog* and maybe even buy her book!

This is Mum.

Some days, Mum feels like she is genuinely smashing lockdown.

Most days…Mum does not.

At the start of lockdown, Mum was filled with boundless optimism about the realities of keeping three children entertained while she and Dad simultaneously held down full time jobs. Mum had a timetable! And a whiteboard! And Fun Crafting Activities! This, felt Mum, was her opportunity to ensure that her children received a far better rounded education as a result of input from their loving parents; to ensure that they returned to school happier, healthier, and generally having benefited from this period of time at home together.


On Day One of lockdown, Biff and Chip and Kipper sat quietly together in the back garden doing leaf rubbings for a full half an hour, while Mum worked on her laptop and watched them through the window – the homemade sourdough pizzas they had created earlier together for lunch cooking in the oven – and Mum thought to herself: Yes. I have got this.

Approximately fifteen seconds later Kipper bit Chip, and Chip pinched Biff, and all three children erupted into the kitchen with cries of “IT’S NOT FAIR!”, knocking against Mum’s laptop and causing her to lose the report she had spent the last half an hour painstakingly writing up, and this has pretty much set the tone for lockdown ever since.

Mum, when she really wants to self-flagellate, breaks up her day by regular scrolling through social media to see how all of the other parents she knows are managing lockdown with their offspring.

Lucas has made homemade shortbread with his sons, and they have been packaging it up and distributing it to those who live alone in the local area.

Sophie and Daryl have made a treehouse in their back garden and their triplets are spending their lockdown sanding it and painting it and decorating it ready for use.

Genevieve has taught her children two new languages already and they are volunteering by reading to the elderly over Skype.

By contrast, were Mum to post on social media, it would show her shouting far too much, occasionally hiding behind the fridge door eating chocolate or sneaking out to the garden shed to have a quick cry.

It would show Biff and Chip and Kipper almost surgically glued to their screens, shouting and bickering with one another undertaking just about the minimum amount of school work Mum will let them get away with as she desperately tries to balance juggling her job with the needs of her children, growling as though they have turned feral – which, let’s face it, they probably have – if Mum makes even the merest suggestion that they might want to put down their screens and step out into the Great Outdoors.

It would show the whiteboard in the bin, and the carefully prepared timetable ripped to shreds, and Mum’s new marker of success being if everyone has got through the day without killing one another.

Under such circumstances, it is far too easy for Mum to feel like she is failing.

What Mum needs to remember, is that these are unprecedented circumstances, for all of us.

We are doing our best.

Social media is not real life.

It is okay not to be smashing it right now.

Because, if we’re honest: most of us aren’t.

You are doing okay, Mum.

We are all doing okay.

Not “brilliantly”. Not “amazingly”. Not “outstandingly”.

But okay.

And right now, okay is more than enough

*This article was originally published by Kathryn Wallace on 17th May 2020, on her blog site which can be found at, https://www.instagram.com/iknowineedtostoptalkingblog/
If you enjoyed reading this, you might also enjoy Kathryn’s books (available on Amazon!), “Winning at Life: The perfect pick-me-up for the exhausted parent” and “Absolutely Smashing It: When #fml means family.”

Don’t forget, there’s always someone to chat to at St Andrew’s – If you’d like to be included in our telephone chat network, just let us know by emailing our support team.
Also, you can join with others from St Andrew’s for a virtual cuppa on Sunday mornings, via Zoom, at 11:30.
To join these meetings, click here to email the Chaplain for the details.

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