Tales from Lockdown

Due to the ongoing coronavirus / COVID19 crisis, we’ve now been isolating (“social distancing” on crack) for two weeks. Slightly longer than Joe Public because my ex is high risk and we wanted to reduce the risk of the kids passing anything on.

After the initial week where negative thoughts and an absence of a) company and b) gym time had me spiraling downwards, I’ve managed to give myself a kick up the arse and pull myself back on track. I’ve got the kids on a “homeschool” schedule, and me trying to maintain some semblance of usual routine, and it seems to be helping.

I put homeschool in quotation marks because it really isn’t any comparison to the sort of learning environment the children would get either at school or if we homeschooled properly. I ‘make’ them do maths and reading every day, but beyond that they’re basically free to indulge their own interests. My only condition is that they keep a blog, which they’ve both been using for both academic and journaling purposes. My logic is that it helps with computer literacy and will serve as a record during these bizarre and trying times. You can read those at izzy.jemjabella.co.uk and olly.jemjabella.co.uk respectively.

I’d like to do more with them (like painting Percy in the header – don’t laugh) but I can’t afford to just stop working to do so. I’ve already had a couple of projects dropped and a couple more frozen, so it’s important I can continue to at least attempt to work on those still going ahead. Likewise, Gaz is working full time from home and so can’t step in here either. I currently feel like I’m being stretched thin between teaching, parenting and working on top of all the usual chores etc. The only saving grace is knowing I’m not alone, and twitter is (for once) keeping me sane when I feel I’m at breaking point.

I’d planned to make 2020 the year we buckle down hard and pay off the remaining debts from taking on a mortgage solo, moving etc, and had started putting processes in place to achieve this. This was oddly fortuitous, given the circumstances; we’d taken the Celica off the road early February and the savings on fuel alone had allowed me to pay off a chunk of an outstanding loan. Hopefully these early measures, along with some old school budgeting, will allow us to get through the next few months of lockdown (and beyond) relatively unscathed.

Despite the pressure to balance kids + work, I recognise the extreme privilege in being able to sit here and talk about budgeting and juggling responsibilities. I’ve lost count of the amount of friends going through job losses, furloughing, having to make sense of the convoluted and mostly unfair UK benefits system etc. I know from bitter experience that many of us are only a month or two away from pretty extreme financial hardship and having to scrape down the back of the sofa for pennies to feed themselves.

Shite things aside, Animal Crossing for the Switch came out this month, so every cloud and all that. Might even blog about that some time this year.


  1. Everything’s a mess. In some ways, I’m glad I’ve been more-or-less laid off (I’m allowed three or fewer hours per week to do specific tasks nobody else knows how to do) because trying to juggle parenting and working is SO hard. Props to you for keeping it going as best you can!

    The first week school was out, I did not do AN-Y-THING school-related with them because it just felt like too much – I got like seven emails from Wesley’s math teacher in two days and I just archived them all. I was NOT in the right place to be teaching him math!!!

    I’m also finding that I am suffering without a laptop. We have one old desktop computer and that’s it. Daniel brought his work Chromebook home, but he needs that for work so I have to boot a child off the one computer we have if I need to use it. It’s… not ideal, and because I’m more-or-less unemployed and Daniel is having his hours cut as well, it feels weird/bad to spend several hundred dollars on a laptop when I might need that money next month for a mortgage payment. I wish we had a rent/mortgage freeze here but… AMERICA amirite

    Wishing you the best from over the pond! xoxo

    • Jem

      02 Apr at 2:04 pm

      Ahh that sounds shit – but yeah, totally sound financial decision not to burn cash on a laptop when you don’t know what’s coming. Hope things stay stable for you guys – this whole situation is just the absolute worst.

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