It’s been a while since I’ve posted, life has been busy and thrown some curveballs!
We’ll start with the enormous beach ball the whole word has been experiencing, and what a ride we’ve all had! I’m pretty sure nobody reading has had the 2020 they were imagining just a few months ago. For some you will have seen your business boom, achieved amazing work-life balance, ticked off all those little jobs which have been mounting for years and many other unexpected highlights. For others, you may have lost your job, had a massive decline in income, found the balance of work home & children insurmountable and many other challenges randomly thrown in your direction.
I would put our house towards the good end of the middle! My partner is a self employed contractor and in February planned to have a couple of months off before looking for a new contract. Then March came, and that planned break we were both very relaxed with became something totally different. Fortunately I am in permanent employment which was not at immediate risk, but I’m not the bread-winner and we are definitely dependant on my partners income.
When lockdown struck, we had to make the very tough decision (the best decision we could make for Monster) to immediately cease contact with Monster when the schools closed. Any travel really felt like a risk and we wanted to reduce his exposure to the potentially deadly disease which was spreading with no prejudice throughout the country.
After 5 weeks, we collaboratively decided COVID was not disappearing like we hoped it would and with us completely isolated and shielding, there was no risk to Monster of him coming home. Of course, with that my partner became a part-time home school teacher on the days Monster was here.
What happened next, of course my OH managed to secure a new role which he could start remotely from home while lockdown continued. Wonderful news. The new client however, have zero flexibility and zero empathy for parents trying to home educate. So, for 3 days a fortnight I became head-teacher!
It’s definitely had its ups and downs and quickly became apparent that I could not balance work and homeschooling on the same days. I have to carefully manage my energy and stress levels (more about that in another post) to ensure I stay healthy and able to carry out normal activities. So I was using lots of annual leave from work and shifting around my hours, then subsequently volunteered for “furlough leave” to regain my footing.
In the meantime, we also got a puppy! That’s a whole other post but definitely upped the ante and the requirements from me in my new lockdown life.
In short, being a stepmum during lockdown has been tough, there have been so many wonderful moments with Monster we would never have usually had but there has also been a lot of sacrifice and a lot of additional pressure.
In the usual stepmum dynamic, this sacrifice and extra responsibility does not come hand in hand with the rights or any degree of control you might usually expect.
It’s something I’ve spoken on before and frequently come back to, as a stepmum you take on the responsibilities and the consequences of decisions you did not make. Whether that’s returning to school, whether going to the shops is necessary, visiting family and all the other things we have never before questioned. It’s not your call. The risk those things represent comes to you and your house, the responsibility for additional activities comes to you and the child’s questions come to you. And you are expected to tow the line.
It’s, for me, the most difficult part of being a stepmum. Justifying decisions you may not always agree with, dealing with the frustration of seeing things happen that you would not and this year, dealing with the knowledge that your health may be significantly impacted by it.
My only advice to others in similar situations is to make sure you consider and know where your “hard lines” are, what is fundamentally important and what can you deal with and let go of. For the first group, make sure your partner is aware and agree those together. For the second, find an outlet and somewhere to vent – try to keep if away from your partner (make your point and then leave it there) and definitely keep it all away from the kids. They are not responsible and they must not taken the burden. If you need to say nothing or walk away, that’s ok.
Sending so much love to everybody and I hope you’re all coping, as always if you need an ear to bend or a place to rant, feel more than welcome to drop me a DM or comment!
Stay safe & most important, stay sane!