When a two-week lockdown was announced for New South Wales in June, I welcomed it like a blessing in disguise.
For a mother with a two-year-old and pandemic-induced FOMO, it presented the perfect opportunity to potty train - without having to be the only one sitting at home for it. No potential coffee dates would be missed. Not a single day of our long-awaited summer break would have to be given up.
So as soon as Gladys got off that press conference, I was rolling up the rugs at home thinking 'this is it, this is my chance, it’s now or never, man'.
Watch parents of toddlers: translated. Post continues after video.
Turned out it wasn’t then or never. Weeks later, my daughter no longer needed bribery to potty, but my sleep patterns were spiralling out of control. Watching her muddle through her upturned life wasn’t an easy feat, and I’d begun channelling all my energy towards keeping her entertained. It was a surefire recipe for self-sabotage.
As someone who’d tuck herself into bed with a book at 10pm, I started sleeping long after 12:30am just to have that extra bit of time, space and silence to myself. At first, watching Friends on my laptop in bed became a ‘me time’ staple because it meant I was at least falling asleep happy.
But then I started receiving emails about posts being dispatched.
Opening every package came with a mild surprise, because I didn’t quite remember the emotional impulse shopping I did at 1:40am six days before. It was like receiving gifts from an admirer who knew exactly how I liked to dress my child and the kind of books I read. Every time I answered the door for a delivery, I’d close my eyes, take a deep breath in and say, ‘it’s like a reward’ (lockdown has meant too much time on Instagram and I am now a walking meme generator).
And then, of course, just like any other sensible person, I realised this was probably not a healthy coping mechanism.
Battling this meant restructuring what lockdown looked like for us. So I found ways of creating pockets of time for myself whilst keeping my toddler happily occupied.
This is what worked for us in reestablishing the balance:
Setting up activity stations around the house during her nap.
This can be sticking several strips of Washi tape on your sliding door (an extra one for every twenty seconds of free time you’d like, so do the math). To spice things up a little, leave a piece of paper on the floor and ask her to stick what she’s peeled off on there and if you’re willing to sacrifice a roll of Washi tape for another sweet five minutes of peace, hand over the roll and let them go for gold.