2020: A reflection on motherhood, unemployment, and being environmentally conscious
2020 has been an odd year for everyone, there’s no denying that, and as we’ve inched closer and closer to January, I’ve found myself reflecting on the year gone by.
I started the year as a new mummy of twins. Now at the end of the year, I feel like I’m a veteran and I know what I’m doing when it comes to parenting (most of the time). I’ve truly got to know both of my children, and have come to learn that sometimes, disregarding the parenting advice of others is the best thing you can do. I’ve worked out what works for my family, and don’t compare us to others – new mums, remember, comparison is the thief of joy! I’ve asked for help when I’ve needed it, but 2020 stripped me of my support network, so I’ve learned that although it’s hard at times, I can manage alone if I have to.
I have been truly blessed with wonderful babies, and they have brought joy and boundless amounts of love into my life. It was in January 2020 that I reignited passions for things I hadn’t thought about in years – something I can attribute to motherhood and the new joie de vivre it brought with it. I found myself spending free moments (which were fleeting at the beginning of the year) reading, something I’ve not really invested time in for ten years.
Of course, there’s the other side of motherhood that people don’t talk about as much. There have been too many times to count this year when I’ve felt like I’ve been a prisoner in my own home, thanks to a combination of various Covid-related lockdowns, and the mental hurdle of getting twin babies dressed, strapped into a buggy, and outside. For weeks on end, nothing healthy was consumed by my husband or me, thanks to a complete lack of energy to cook. There are multiple-specific challenges that new mums aren’t warned about. Nobody tells you how to make sure your babies sleep at the same time as each other, so you can catch a few minutes sleep, or a shower. The ‘sleep when they sleep’ ideal means nothing to parents of twins and multiples. Nobody tells you that some of the baby clubs are up two flights of stairs with no lift – something that’s not so much of an issue with one baby, but two…
A positive outcome from 2020 that has helped me deal with some of the harder aspects of motherhood, has been my husband working from home. He has spent a considerable amount of time this year in his attic office, rather than having to commute for over two hours a day. Having him around more has kept me grounded, and he has been able to see a lot more of his children on a day to day basis than he would have done, had it been a typical year.
Something that I never thought I’d be dealing with this year is unemployment. I voluntarily handed in my notice for my history teacher job, seeing as the cost of childcare for twins exceeded my teacher wage! After my maternity leave ended, the UK was in the midst of lockdown number two, and jobs were scarce. I’ve always been a bit of a qualification collector and have three degrees and a handful of other random qualifications. Alas, it quickly became clear that no amount of qualifications could get me a job that was going to be flexible enough to work around twin motherhood and living a bit of a trek away from the nearest big town, during a global pandemic. At first, I found the prospect of being unemployed incredibly unsettling, and upsetting! I was able to pick up a bit of copywriting and social media management work in the evenings, but certainly nothing that constitutes having a full time job! As the months have gone by, I’ve come to the realisation, however, that looking after twins is a full time job in itself. And when I do find myself with a little extra time on my hands (rare, but two hour naps have been known to happen), I’ve had the time to research things. It’s through these moments of snatched time that I’ve been able to learn more and more about being environmentally friendly.
I started connecting online with mums who used cloth nappies. From there, I was guided to whole online communities of eco-warrior parents, who have proved themselves to be a kind and friendly community, unlike other mum groups I’ve heard about! I learned about easy eco-swaps, and have gradually been implementing them in my every day life. Now, cloth nappies, earth bleach, steel straws, solid shampoo, and eco deodorant (and lots more) are just a normal part of my life.
2020 has brought ups and downs, but I’m very lucky and can honestly say that the positives have outweighed the negatives thanks to my children. Wherever you are, and whatever your circumstances are, I wish you all the very best for the year ahead!!