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To celebrate Mother’s Day, we’ve interviewed some extraordinary women about motherhood and how they stay connected to their friends and family during this time.
We spoke with Liani, a business development manager, about how she and her wife Martie have been spending lockdown together with their four-year-old twins Luca and Finn.
How has life under lockdown been?
Interesting! It is tough to try and do everything well, all the time. And that goes for the house, for cooking, getting work done, keeping the little ones busy and exercising. We are fortunate to have a lovely big garden which makes it possible to be outside quite a bit. Some days are easy and go by quickly. Some are really hard. That being said, we are lucky that we are still both able to work.
Your children are still small, but have you been doing any form of homeschooling or technology-based learning? If so, what technology do you use?
The twins are in a playschool and every morning for 30 mins they join an online Zoom class with their teacher where they have a chance to see some of their friends, sing a couple of songs, dance, and do a small art project. They also join their karate class online.
Are you both working from home, and if so, how do you divide the responsibilities between you?
Yes, we both work from home. I think we divide and conquer most things. One of us would take on more for a morning or afternoon if one of us have meetings. But because the kids are small, we pretty much both need to be very involved in everything, for the most part of any given day. They eat more than you think. If fact, they eat all the time. And they don’t particularly excel in waiting for what they want.
What has been the most challenging aspect of parenting for you at this time?
Definitely juggling working from home during the week. Weekends are bliss because we can give the kids all the attention they want and need without feeling guilty for not spending enough time with them. Having a couple of meetings a day or having to meet certain work deadlines is tough because most of the presentations you might be working on, most of the emails you need to concentrate on, get interrupted by a little person. Also to find a balance between being as productive as you need to, being kind, caring, and patient with the kids while you do that and finding a moment somewhere in between to just breathe and have time to think how you actually feel. If they watch too much TV, you feel guilty. If you can’t play with them when they ask you to, you feel bad. If they don’t understand why you have a meeting after another just finished, you feel you should make it better. And sometimes you can’t.
How are the kids feeling at the moment?
I think they are having a magical time. Every day is an adventure for them and they don’t feel the uncertainty around them in the way we do. They are just looking forward to baking, another treasure hunt, jumping on the trampoline, building a new puzzle, dancing to their favourite songs, and having us around. Luckily for us, with both being the same age, they want to watch the same story, play the same game and they also keep each other busy. They miss their friends but they send each other video clips and little messages. I do think they also have days when they are frustrated but don’t have the words yet to communicate all of these emotions that they deal with in their own way. They understand that we can’t go out or go to the shops but this doesn’t keep them from telling us what we need to go when the germs are gone.
How do you stay connected to the rest of your family and is this important to you?
We have family video meetings and do video calls with their grandparents. The kids show them pictures they’ve drawn, tells them stories, or sometimes just wave and go again. I want them to still feel connected to the people who love them that they can’t physically be with at the moment.
Do you have a set routine each day, and are they expected to also help around the house?
Routine with 4-year olds sounds like a very loose term. I run in the morning outside for an hour by myself. Then I come home to fetch my partner and the twins – all with masks on – and we put them in the pram and go for another run/walk to be back by 9 am. It gives them a chance to also go out, still have a glimpse of the outside world for now and we try and do this every morning if the weather allows us to. They do help us, even though it might be short-lived, to clean, fold laundry, pack toys away, and more. But it’s not like they can mow the lawn yet, cook dinner or play outside for two hours and not ask you anything. We are not there yet. We do still bath them the same time we used to, read a story before they go to bed, and try to stick to meal times to avoid them wanting to eat all day long. Their daily school class also gives them their own routine to follow and I think it is something that makes them feel safe. I want them to play. I want them to have a good time. I want them to see that we exercise, that we work and there is also a time to respect the responsibilities that come with helping. We all have to make this work and create a space where they can still just be little and discover the good parts of life.
How do you spend quality time together?
This could be a million different moments in a day. From when they climb into bed with us when they wake up for a peaceful five minutes, to the whole family on our daily running outing, picnic outside when they eat, teaching our little girl to play short songs on the piano, playing cricket with our boy, dancing in the kitchen, jumping on the trampoline, doing arts & crafts with them and even when we walk around with our laptops in the garden where they ask us to come and sit where they play, jump or swing. Every night we read a book together, listen to a story and then they go to bed.
Has your view of motherhood changed at all over this time, and if so, how?
I don’t think my view of motherhood has changed. I appreciate the special time I have with the kids, even though it is challenging. There are more moments to capture together. More shared experiences as I see them all the time. I have time to be there for all the moments in their day. The best ones, the great ones, the sad ones, the frustrating ones, the funny ones… For this I’m grateful. We want to be their safe space and their biggest fans. Not just during this time, but every next day. All of us have to find a way to be ok as happiness rubs off on our little ones while they also need to see and know it’s ok if everything isn’t perfect. They just want to be loved unconditionally.