Grainne McCool writes about finding the joy in lockdown life as her sons return home.
Life became very different with just himself and myself at home, but it was a time we thoroughly enjoyed. I had been a stay-at-home mum for many years, then after my return to study, I set up a small business. I had been working part-time until all three boys were finished school. Then I was my own boss, and I had no children to return home to in the evenings. Yes, I was blissfully happy. I loved seeing those grown men return for weekends etc, but I also loved waving them off and returning to the quite house with just himself and myself again.
And then March 2020 strikes- a lockdown and a global pandemic, and two grown men arrive home to live once again with mum and dad. Our eldest son lives in a village nearby, so he was able to remain in his own home. But sons two and three were Dublin based and decided to make the move back to Donegal to stay safe. Clearly the home strings were never completely loosened.
If someone had told me two years ago that I would have two adult sons living back home, I would have run a mile. There’s no way we could all possibly live in our three-bedroom home at this stage in life. But overnight that’s just what happened. And now, nine weeks later, here we are as if we have been doing it forever. Husband and both those adult sons are working from home with three separate work-spaces – this could never happen I would have argued – but yes, it’s happened and it’s rather fun. Everyone just slipped back into a completely new routine and our little house is much bigger in its welcome that I ever thought possible.
I watch as parents struggle to home-school their children in these uncertain times. I see other parents saying the important schooling now is to teach the children basic life-skills. It’s those very posts which have inspired me to write this blog post. With these two sons now firmly back in the homestead, I am seeing the huge benefits of them having those very life-skills. My husband was the first man I saw ironing and cooking. When I had three sons I always said I wanted them to be like their dad and have all those skills. They do. I stand back (or rather sit back with my book to hand) as my sons do the house chores; iron their clothes; cook daily dinners; make home-made pancakes almost daily; prepare the weeks shopping lists; schedule daily dinners weekly. Tasks I don't even do anymore.
But here they are, revelling in being able to do so much for their parents. To say I’m proud is an understatement. Some days I just slip quietly to my room and read and enjoy the smell of cooking from the kitchen.
This time is really fun and I feel very personally rewarded for having encouraged such basic life skills in them as children. To see them now encourage me and inspire me to do daily tasks differently (and better) is filling me with pride. Trust me, these adult sons are not perfect. Perfect is something I don’t believe in. But they have shown that those basic life-skills are beneficial when instilled at a young age.
Keeping up with the schoolwork is indeed important if it’s doable in your house. If it’s not, take the time and teach your kids how to cook; how to put washing in the machine; if old enough, how to iron; how to bake. These are lifelong skills and ones they will reward you with one day too.
I feel very rewarded in this time of lockdown. I’m just not altogether sure how we’ll manage when these young men go back out into the world again – but I’m quite sure we will; just not quite as organised, but we’ll manage!