It's 2020 and we are right in the middle of what I can only describe as very surreal days. No one who reads this blog right now will need any further description to know I'm talking about the Coronavirus pandemia Today is the first of probably many weeks and possibly even months that the children will be with me on term time. Today, I am breathing a bit more easily, because to be truthful, I wasn't feeling too comfortable about the schools carrying on as usual. I won't go into discussing the implications of such a drastic measure or going into the detail as to why I think it was a difficult but necessary measure at this point. I think by now, we have all investigated, reflected and as much as possible developed some sort of opinion about what has been going on. I think in one think the vast majority of us agrees: we're all baffled by the whole thing. A couple of weeks ago life still felt very normal and now it feels like we're all characters of a film, and one with a very weird plot by the looks of it.
So the idea of writing these blog posts doesn't come from the need to discuss the situation, but I felt that somehow I wanted to report how, on a personal level, we as a family, decided to deal with it and how such a change is impacting the way I am feeling about a series of things. It will be, if you like, a bit of a diary of our days of imposed home-schooling and social distancing.
The first thing I'll say is that we are taking this pretty seriously without any sort of panic. We are fully aware of our responsibility in trying to prevent the spread of the virus, helping bring life back to normal, but above everything, trying to protect the ones who are more vulnerable. As such, whilst my husband, being a key worker (vet in food hygiene) still has to carry on working, the kids and I are opting to either stay home or go into the open air, still respecting our social distancing. I'm lucky enough that I work from home and as such, I have the availability to be here for them. I am also not taking bookings for the foreseeable future, so whilst there is still a lot of work to be done in the backstage, all obligations outside the house seem to have been eliminated.
There's one thing about me you might not know. I don't do well with routine, multitasking or organisation. I know, funny thing for a mum, business owner and artist all in one, right? But it's true. I struggle with the rhythm modern society imposes on our lives. I am a one job sort of woman. I can stay for hours and hours lost in a creative project, editing photos for a client or working on props for my shoots. I can also shoot all day, if needed be. When I start something, I am slightly obsessive about it and I want it both to be perfect and to be able to do it from start to finish. When I'm passionate about one thing, I am so without limits. And I am both really passionate about both motherhood and photography. But I often feel my passion doesn't fit in every day routine, with the milliard of obligations we have all the time. There are so many little everyday things, so many balls we have to juggle at the same time. The days seems divided in a thousand different little tasks and none of them ever seems to see an end. I often struggle feeling I don't have time to breathe, let alone time to spend enough quality time both as a mum and as a wife. I often feel I am letting my friends down for not always being able to book that coffee, that in person chat. I am so lucky with the life I have and still, it often feels overwhelming.
Which is why, in this very unstable and unexpected moment in time, I am trying to find the silver lining in all of this. Please don't think I am not aware of the present and future implications of this crisis. And while I am lucky to be home with my kids, while I am lucky that we are frugal enough that I know we will overcome the financial impact this will inevitably have on my business, while I am lucky that we are probably not particularly vulnerable to this virus (though there are some questions about that, both for me and my boy), we all are being personally affected by it one way or another . But right now I am choosing to believe that our vulnerable family members back home in both Portugal and Spain will stay safe and I am dedicating myself fully to making this time home with my kids the less stressful and more enjoyable possible for them.
As with all other kids, they are confused by it and wanting life to just go back to normal. My girl in particular, has an anxious personality and has been fearing this virus ever since her friends in school started talking about it over a month ago. We have gone through many many chats and also with a little bit of help from some informative talks they had in school, she is now dealing with it a lot better, but it's still a fine balance and there has been many tears over it.
Now that I have shared with you how we stand as a family while facing the coronavirus pandemic, all I want to share from now on is what I/we have been learning with it. The first thing that I felt was the responsibility of both finding a way of turning this time into good memories for my kids whilst still sort of try and provide them some sort of education. Don't get me wrong, I won't be going crazy with schedules and timetables, but I do feel I need to implement a little bit of organisation to make this work. But above everything, I think a lot of it will have to do with my frame of mind.
I realised how over the last few years I got a bit swallowed by life. School, shoots, homework, after school activities, nutritious food, quality time, socialising, clients, editing, social media, website, creativity, creative time with the kids, time for friends, enough culture, not too much screen time, etc, etc, etc......and good Lord, I don't even go to the gym!! I'm sure many of you share a similar story, even if the details are different. Suddenly I woke up today and in the middle of all this chaos, life felt somehow simpler, in a very paradoxical sort of way. We don't have anywhere to go. Not today, not tomorrow. Not next week. not the week after. I have editing to do, yes, I have projects I am still working on in a backstage sort of manner and ....I have to be a mum. I have to be there for them. In a much more present manner, because they will be missing their friends, they will be missing the school structure, they will be missing teachers they are lucky enough to love to bits. I don't even know if we will manage to go on holidays this year, and if our 3 weeks back home are suspended, it will hit them like a ton of bricks. Which is why I really need to change from ''must do it all mum'' to ''must be present and stop rushing mum''. They need me right now. To guide their days, to give them some structure, to make this time special and to reassure them that this too shall pass. To reassure them that even though everything is suddenly so different, our everyday can still be amazing. We're just living differently.
So today we did some work, we played some games. We all had a good laugh while I asked them words in Portuguese (working on their Portuguese and Spanish will be one of the goals for this period). I taught my daughter some maths as we used to do it (sorry teachers, I still do think it works and it won't hurt to have extra tools......! ) And when it was time for lunch, instead of rushing them out of the kitchen, because ''mum needs to do this quickly'' I asked them if they would like to help. They were delighted.
Then I made them go in the garden to get a bit of fresh air, and I know they now slipped upstairs to watch something on the tablet. Which is ok, because I needed a bit of time to work. We will all be struggling with that work from home/entertaining the kids balance for now. Further on today I am hoping for some craft time and then we will probably go and watch a Broadway Musical online.
I'm quite used to being home with the kids. Of doing stuff with them, of having them for all holidays and half terms. Without any family nearby, the kids are always with us, mainly with me, as I have the most flexible hours being self employed. But somehow this time it feels different. Somehow, without we noticing, I think this world crisis is changing us all. And even though there is so much heartbreak and so many devastating implications that come with it, I think we might learn a thing or two from it.