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Life with kids in the new normal


The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

A lot of parents the length and breadth of Ireland (and beyond) are finding themselves in a situation they did not envisage mere weeks ago. They have become full-time parents. Or, harder still, full-time parents whilst trying to work full-time from home.
I really don’t know how any single parents who are working from home right now are managing. They deserve every credit going, because the sudden change is not an easy one. Take it from me – any parent who is describing the new reality as ‘pure bliss’ is not to be trusted. This, my friends, is a lie.
Every parent loves their kids, but the move from being away from them 40-plus hours a week to being in the house all the time is a jump so seismic that it’s nigh on impossible to be prepared for the shock.
And gone, too, are so many of the options of things to do at the weekends, like visits, going to the swimming pool, trips to Castlebar or even bringing them for a drive.
Frankie used to love going shopping with me too. That’s gone for obvious and understandable reasons.
So the kids can’t go far these days. If the weather is compliant, you can get them out for walks and out in the garden. That, right now, is manna from heaven for them. And us. Our garden is littered with slides, houses, bikes and all variety of kids’ vehicles.
It’s the days you cannot get them outside that are hardest for everyone. There are only so many times you can push Éamon in his Little Tykes Cozy Coupe up and down the hallway – although my breaking point is infinitely shorter than his!
Those rainy days are merely about surviving.
I’m lucky that the nature of my work allows me to come and go from the computer. So I will get as much work done from the early morning, dip in and out for an hour here and there during the afternoon and get another block of work done when the kids are gone to bed at night.
Life might be simpler right now without the kids around, but better? Not a chance. I’m convinced – and this isn’t just a coping mechanism – that life in lockdown would be harder without them. Tied to the house all day, it would be very dull without them.
Sure, at times, they might drive you insane, but more often than not they help to keep us sane.
Frankie and Éamon don’t have a notion about Covid-19 – and they are better off. They are not worried about the latest report from the Chief Medical Officer or shaking their head at the latest diatribe from Donald Trump.
Frankie and Éamon are three-and-a-half and one-and-a-half respectively, so their needs are quite simple – they want to be fed, watered and entertained and not in that order. They are at the stage when there is only so long that they will entertain themselves.
They want to have fun with their parents all day, every day, and while this might be hard when you are trying to conduct a Zoom work call and they are shouting for you, they really do keep you entertained, have you smiling more often than not and make you realise what’s important right now.
There’s no point saying it is always easy. It’s not.
Some days are diamonds. Others are merely about getting through the day. All we can do is enjoy the good ones and know that with the bad ones, tomorrow’s another day.

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.