21st January 2021 – Pandemic, Home Schooling, oh and chronic illness…

So here I am with the best intentions of waiting until I have the best platform for this blog, done all my research and of course, writing this in chronological order…

With reading today’s BBC News on interviews with Gavin Williamson (MP) on TV, I am ready to explode!

I’ve been off work sick (which I’ll come to later) since our latest lockdown and despite being the most ill I’ve ever experienced, I have still tried to work with my husband to home school our two children for the sanity of our entire family.

When I thought this might come to an end by February half term, I thought “we can do this!” – with my project management head on, I’d already worked a solution to discuss with my boss, thinking 6 weeks really isn’t that long, but also knowing we couldn’t have a repeat of last year.

Now knowing it could be until Easter, with Schools now close, my return to a senior professional role imminent, my Crohn’s far from being under control, oh and did you know that stress can bring on a flare? If me or my hubby don’t have a mental breakdown, then I’m still thinking how can I manage my illness on top?

At this moment, I must point out how incredibly lucky I am to have an extremely supportive and sympathetic boss, who just gets it as a mom, as a professional, but also from an illness perspective that I’m not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes with my illness. I know from reading so many disturbing posts on FB forums that so many people with IBD don’t have this level of support.

As a senior professional manager (of managers), I know I am lucky to also have a lot of freedoms to manage my own day, on top of which at the moment, working from home is a blessing from an IBD perspective – I can ‘hide’ the illness to a degree thanks to the countless MS Teams meetings! This doesn’t however take away the pressure, responsibility and accountability to get the day job done, no matter what hours are required, balanced against the accountability to keep a roof over our family.

So I thought I had the perfect plan – get up early, complete an early shift at work, home school my 3 year old in the morning whilst my hubby looks after our 8 year old, lunch, then back at work and use annual leave for the shortfall in contracted hours.

OK, so my ‘ideal’ plan doesn’t take account of the overall fatigue I am currently and continue to experience, the brain fog from the pain relief, let alone meetings I can’t miss at certain times, toddler tantrums and the general ‘I want to hide under the duvet’ every day. I would love to know how single mom’s with Crohn’s, regardless of work have coped!

My status as a worker has recently changed to a ‘key worker’ status in the current lockdown. However, I am also in the ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable’ (CEV) category and have been for a while. This leaves me with a moral dilemma. Do I send my 2 children to school for the sanity of me and my hubby, or do I leave them at home to protect my own health, so there is no risk they will loose their mother to COVID. I have been riding up to today on the hope that the vaccine would save our family which would make the whole ‘send to school’ decision far easier but not without it’s own pull on the heart strings.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that home schooling hadn’t put extreme pressure on us as a family, you may be surprised to hear, I am not super woman. I have every admiration for all the teachers out there who do this day in, day out. Whilst home schooling is not on the same planet as all the doctors, nurses and care workers, it does not mean that the mental stress this is putting on thousands of adults and children a like is anything to be brushed under the carpet. We saw a mother at the park at the weekend, when I innocently asked “How are you getting on with the pandemic?”. The mother’s pain was palatable, with 3 children under the age of 8, husband out at work, she literally looked exhausted and completely at the end of her tether.

So, what’s the answer?

  • As a planner (ESTJ from Myers Briggs if any of you are interested in personality types) at heart, I could do what I did before and ‘plan my way out of it’. With a rigid schedule – no good for spontaneity of illness, although the plan would help my stress.
  • Ask fellow warriors?
  • Take each day as it comes – does it really matter as long as we have our basic needs (shelter, food and water) and we are healthy (well reasonably!)
  • Use mindfulness as my tool?
  • Take the pressure off and scrap the whole school thing (which fills me with dread as it helps fill endless hours in 4 walls beyond electronic devices) and just plan lots of fun family activities that can be adapted to how we feel as a family?

I really don’t know the answer, but anyone with a magic formula, please let me know by RSVP!

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