Life in (virtual) lockdown with teenagers

I can’t tell you how many photos and videos I’ve seen of families doing the Joe Wicks workouts in lockdown. I think I must follow every single one of them on social media. I reckon I’ve seen pretty much every ‘window rainbow’ too. But life in lockdown with teenagers is different, in my experience. We’re not ‘home schooling’ here and nobody has done a Joe Wicks PE lesson. If anything, I’m pretty redundant as I don’t even have any of my own work to do (the downside of freelancing, you’re always the most expendable).

As ever, I want to say this isn’t a ‘poor me’ post. I know we’re very lucky. None of us has either coronavirus symptoms or underlying health conditions. We are free to do our once daily government approved exercise as we please!

My 14 year old daughter cried when she realised school was off indefinitely, but she has adjusted very well to life at home. In fact, she never wants it to end. She’s got herself a nice routine and is keeping herself very busy. She starts most days with a run, apart from the days she does sprints training with my son later in the day. She does some stretches to improve her flexibility as she’s realised that she can no longer do the splits in her old age! Then she settles down to school work. Most days, that will take her until lunchtime. Sometimes she’s finished a bit earlier, sometimes a bit later. But she just gets on with it quietly, without complaining. She has spent days transforming our old bed for her own room. (I will write about our ‘new bedroom’ at some point, but it doesn’t feel quite right just yet.) She has sanded it and painted it with two coats of paint, all on her own. Apart from that, she is doing a lot of exercise – practising ballet, Oti Mabuse’s daily dance routines, a daily abs challenge and indoor circuits from the sprints coach to help them stay fit until athletics club can hopefully restart later in the summer. She goes to bed physically exhausted every night.

My 16 year old son has the least to keep him busy. As a GCSE student, he has no real school work to do. The school has sent a few little online bits over, but they can be finished in minutes and won’t have any relevance to his final grades. Luckily, he is always happy to keep himself amused. He has a daily conversation with all of his friends in the evening, with a lot of laughter. He mixes up his exercise, either with sprints training on a quiet road close to home (usually with his sister), a slow jog or a long walk. He also walks around the house a lot to deliberately increase his steps and does the circuit from the sprints coach. He is the first one to want to accompany me to the supermarket, just for a change of scene. I kept telling myself he shouldn’t go, as he is one more person to risk infection, but I feel sorry for him having nothing to do and he was a good help. The supermarkets have now made it clear that only person per household should shop, so he no longer goes.

son, daughter, running, 366, Lockdown

My 18 year old son is working at home. He takes over the whole of the downstairs with very loud Skype phone conversations and frequently tells his siblings off for moving or talking near him BECAUSE I’M WORKING. He can be angry and negative a lot of the time, while everyone else is in remarkably good spirits. He is also eating us out of house and home and seems to have no appreciation that there are empty shelves in the supermarket (even though he’s seen them) and that we need to not be greedy. My husband actually bought him his own supply of cheap biscuits, to stop him eating the nicer ones all day. His daily exercise is either a morning run with my husband or a walk on his own at lunchtime.

My husband is still going into the office every day as he is the only one there. We have a decent-sized house, but it would be hard to find space for everyone to work in peace if he was at home. Now he’s only allowed to exercise once a day, he’s decided to run every single day.

And me? I’m running five times a week (I usually run four times a week, or five times a week when I’m training for a marathon). I’m here for the kids if they need me and I’m reading in the garden when the sun shines. There are extra jobs I could do round the house, but I’m not doing them. Because I still hate housework. Being stuck at home doesn’t come easily to me, so I don’t want to make it worse for myself by doing things I hate. If I can just read, I feel calm and contented. Strangely, having struggled with sleep for so many years, I am actually sleeping better. I still wake up at 4.30am, but I doze on and off until 6. I would expect to be worrying, but I know that I am keeping my family safe and, in doing that, I’m also keeping society and the NHS safe. I’m missing the radio, which I normally listen to a lot, because my son won’t let us have it on while he is working.

Shopping and cooking are big issues, as they are for every family. I’m shopping for my parents as well as ourselves. Shopping is way more stressful when you’re doing it for someone else, as you feel bad if you can’t get anything and don’t know what to substitute something with. Initially, we were shopping little and often, but then Boris Johnson said we should be minimising shopping trips, which of course makes a lot of sense to reduce the spread of the virus. But try shopping for a family of five, including three teenagers, only once a week! Between us, we get through a lot of food, so it’s hard to shop for a week at the best of times. Add to that empty shelves and restrictions on quantities and it’s almost impossible to shop even twice a week, but I’m trying my best.

One good thing that has come out of lockdown is that we are eating better food. We have time to cook, whereas usually on weekdays I’m always under pressure to get food for before my daughter’s ballet and I’m always driving around, so have no time to cook proper food. I have warned my family that the ‘proper’ food will be gone when life gets back to normal, because I won’t suddenly have an extra hour or more a day to cook.

So that’s our life in lockdown. How is yours?

Daughter, Garden, Bed, Upcycling, 366, Lockdown

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. It certainly is different with teenagers but it sounds like your kids are all being really sensible about it and so good that they are doing so much exercise. I have a split because of A being younger so I am trying to homeschool and we are all doing Joe Wicks although the boys prefer his tougher workouts. At least the weather is nice and you can sit out and read, I should try and do that a bit more. I also agree with the housework, I keep seeing people talking about all the cleaning they are doing and I really don’t want to do any extra at all!

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    • It must be hard with having A as well as the teenagers. At least mine are all in a similar situation. The younger two are living for their exercise at the moment, which is great. My daughter will certainly be fitter than ever. Glad it’s not just me that doesn’t like extra housework. I did a little bit of decluttering at the weekend (like literally 20 minutes) and that was plenty for me.

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  2. It is very different with teens, isn’t it? At first, I was looking at all the ideas that were springing up on social media. Took a few days to sink in that they were mainly aimed at the younger children. School wise, I just have to check in with the children, as school sends the lessons to them. I’m not involved in the teaching. Eldest is filling her time after the cancellation of A Levels. She’s in limbo. She’s stuck between waiting for made-up results and starting to study for the September exams. It’s a horrid situation. As for food. Oh my goodness. The larder can empty quickly.

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    • It is incredible how much they eat, isn’t it? I think it’s impossible to only shop once a week when you’ve got teenagers in the house. Your poor daughter, it is very strange for them having their exams cancelled. My son knows which subjects he will take exams for if he doesn’t get the results he wants, but isn’t going to revise until he’s got his results. I am supporting him with that decision.

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  3. I love that your daughter has got herself a little project and is clearly enjoying it. Lockdown with teenagers is much easier than with little kids I imagine but yes to the locusts eating me out of house and home! I’m also struggling with them being on a different timezone to me. Is this something you’re having to deal with? They are getting up at midday and going to bed at 1am! Oh and the mess. I just feel like I’m tidying and cooking ALL of the time!

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    • My daughter is doing brilliantly. She’s done her upcycling and is now into decluttering. We have a massive pile of clothes for charity shop. Oh yes, they eat constantly, mess up the kitchen and have breakfast when I’m having lunch! The different time zone seems to happen every school holiday for us, it drives me a bit mad!

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  4. It sounds like you are all doing a good job of keeping busy, especially your girl.
    I have been sleeping so badly these last few weeks. 5am this morning I was awake but refused to get up out of bed until 7am. That is great you are sleeping more.
    We have found shopping hard. It is impossible for us just to go a couple of times a week because of the limits. 4 pints of milk and a loaf of bread doesn’t last long when there’s 4 of us home all day. x

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    • Sorry to hear you’ve been struggling to sleep. It if such a strange time. The shopping is definitely challenging when you’ve got teenagers at home, constantly eating! X

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  5. I find it so interesting to hear how everyone is living so very differently in this time. I don’t think there is a perfect age to have the kids in times like these, I was wondering if on a rough day with the 4 kids under 12 but I don’t think any of its easy.
    I’m pleased they’ve all settled in and most of your spirits are high!

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    • Thanks very much. It is such a strange time and I don’t think there is an ideal age for it, but I must say I’ve been pretty impressed with how my kids are coping.

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  6. It must be so strange, especially for your son with his GCSEs cancelled. It’s great that they’re keeping themselves so fit. We have all been doing Joe Wicks and other than school work, the girls are just entertaining themselves. They’re helping in the garden and the kitchen a bit but other than that they seem to be relatively self sufficient. It’s really interesting to see how other people are coping. Sorry to see that your work has suffered, it’s such a difficult time in terms of that sort of thing.

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    • It’s great that your kids are able to amuse themselves. That must make life a lot easier! I think my son is used to the idea of the cancelled GCSEs now. I just hope he gets given the grades he wants!

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  7. It must be very strange with teens. I have one, but he is still young. Sounds like they are doing really well. It is hard when they are so active though xx

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    • It doesn’t seem strange to us because it’s all we know! It’s certainly different to what I’m seeing other people doing on social media and it feels like we’ve got it easier than people with younger kids. I’m pleased to say the kids are managing to stay pretty active on the whole. X

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