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Being the Perfect Lockdown Mum

Being the Perfect Lockdown Mum

It is the 21st Century - and we work in a very sensitive industry - yet, I am noticing that the social and work pressure on mums during lockdown is greater than that of dads. Of course, it should not be - and that is why I’m writing.

What we are going through, at the moment, in terms of lockdown; self isolation; shielding etc. has been compared to that which our parents and grandparents experienced during the last world war. ‘We’re all in this together’, ‘Stay at Home, Protect the NHS’ - we are one small step away from ‘Dig for Victory’ or ‘Loose Lips Sink Ships’. People have often talked during this crisis of a sense of community spirit building - strangers delivering food parcels to elderly neighbours. A hundred year old man raising £30million for the NHS by wandering around his garden. Nurses and doctors literally risking their lives on the front line to save people’s lives. Countless tales of heroism and altruism that lift us up everyday - we have many examples of this within our own circles and particularly in our organisation. We work in social care - we get applauded every Thursday night - and I want us all to receive that applause with grace in the knowledge that the work that we do is every bit as important as those nurses and doctors. We are liaising with Local Authorities daily - and we know that by offering families for the country’s most vulnerable - we are literally saving lives.

Today would have been Nicholas Winton’s 111th birthday. Sir Nicholas was instrumental in saving the lives of 669 children immediately before the outbreak of the Second World War by obtaining travel papers, arranging transit and then finally finding families for these Czechoslovakian refugees. Please take four and a half minutes to see this amazing man being recognised by using the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKkgO06bAZk

I have heard innumerable times in my lifetime in fostering, ‘If I could make a difference in one child’s life…’. That is where it starts - with one child. And if we continue to be motivated by that concept - then perhaps, one day, we can say that we made the difference in 669 children’s lives. I don’t need to belabour the point - but there is little difference between Sir Nicholas’ work and the work that we do every day. So, as I said before - accept your applause this Thursday.

Returning, now, to my first point, that of trying to be the perfect mum during lockdown: There is no such thing! Any more than there is the perfect fostering organisation or the perfect child. We are all under pressure to ‘perform by comparison’. This is unfair and unnecessary - and I’m writing today to tell you to release yourself from that pressure. We will walk down the street and see perfect rainbows in neighbours’ windows. We will see families posting pictures of their amazing banana breads on Facebook - complete with smiling children licking spoons. There will be increased social pressure on the 1st June with some parents deciding to send their children to school and others deciding not to. There will be neighbours discussing Ethel down the road who sent her children to school, ‘How could she do that with her precious bundles of joy?’ they will ask. Other’s shaming parents for keeping their children off school - ‘Ooh must be nice for Marjorie, not having to send her children to school - but then she doesn’t have to work, so….’. I do not want any one of us to judge others for their decisions in these ‘unprecedented’ times. We are all making incredibly complex decisions, and each of us has our own set of unique circumstances that will inform those decisions. We have been told by the DfE and Ofsted that parents aren’t teachers - the Government itself is telling us, ‘Don’t pressure yourselves - do what you can and leave what you can’t’. And when the 1st June rolls around - make the best decision for yourselves and your children - and perhaps turn off Facebook for a while. Remember that those little snippets of tranquility of an older sister plaiting her younger sibling’s hair, or of the young lad helping dad with the gardening - are just that - vignettes photographed and posted for comment - a moment in time. So I am asking you, whether you are a Foster Parent, a Mum or a Dad, not to judge others, but more importantly, not to judge yourselves. Don’t succumb to the ‘Perform by Comparison’ pressure - it is unrealistic and unhelpful.

We will all have many challenges on the road ahead - the road of integration back to normality. These challenges will be unique to us - but many will be dealing with similar issues. So, share your concerns with those that you trust - and we as an organisation will continue to provide an environment where if you make a decision in the best interests of your children and all of our children - you will be ok. If I may bring us back to the wartime spirit: ‘Keep Calm and Carry On…’

Stay Safe

Keith
(Director of Xcel 2000 & Diverse Care Fostering Organisations - The Hazel Project)

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