ULRIKA JONSSON told in a Sun column this week about the trauma of being locked down with her two daughters, Bo, 19 and 16-year-old Martha.
The busy mum wrote: “Lockdown with these hoodlums forced me to question my sanity, made me feel like I was in freefall and made me wonder what the hell I had been thinking all those times in the past when my Fallopian tubes would jump for joy as soon as I saw a man.
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“I certainly wasn’t prepared for the contempt, defiance, audacity and confrontation that has arrived.
“About everything, from changing the toilet roll to rudeness, politeness and lack of empathy (it’s only they who count, it turns out).” But this is not how Bo and Martha see it.
Here, they answer their mother’s criticisms – and tell her how lockdown has been for them.
MARTHA turned 16 during lockdown in May and was due to sit GCSEs, have her prom and final day at her old school. She says:
I HAVE never known anyone who is so anal and house-proud as Mum.
If someone as much as breathes in a room, she yells: “What are you doing?”.
The kitchen is her domain, and if any of us want to prepare something she will watch us like a hawk and follow us around with a cloth wiping up before we’ve finished. She’s relentless.
She also thinks everyone has the same amount of energy as she does. The tension in the air can often be cut with a knife.
During lockdown she was more impatient than ever.
I don’t get what was so important about tidying and cleaning constantly.
She never stopped nagging about my room. Thankfully, in the end, she just gave up, so it paid off for me.
The worst thing, I guess, was that it was a household with three hormonal women in it. One menopausal and the others going through teenage stuff.
I just used to roll my eyes when she’d start talking about how things were when she was a teenager. I mean, whatever . . .
The run-up to this final school year feels a little like we got to the top of the rollercoaster and then had to be escorted down.
It’s been such a disappointment and it feels like we’ve missed a rite of passage.
I don’t think Mum understood how rubbish this made me feel.
It was irritating as hell when she kept trying to make us do things “together”. I just wanted to sit in my room and chat to my mates. Hardly a crime.
I’ve been sleeping in until the afternoons and Mum kept nagging me to get up earlier because it put me in a different time zone to the rest of the family.
However, I’m actually in the same time zone as all my friends.
I’ve been pulling all-nighters because I’ve had nothing to do. I haven’t felt I’ve been “lazy” — just I’ve honestly had nothing to do.
Mum’s productivity soared in lockdown, starkly contrasting with me, who has done nothing.
She’s had several projects on the go: Must make bread, re-do my sister’s room, check out this book, clear cupboards, garden and big cooking ventures for no reason.
I’ve ended up having a lot of the same conversations with Mum.
It’s like we ran out of things to talk about or she had amnesia.
When I met with my first friend out of lockdown it was strange.
Neither of us really knew what to do with ourselves, how to talk to each other.
I found May 12 and June 12 really hard to deal with. They were the start and end dates of what would have been my GCSEs.
I felt melancholy and strange knowing they were supposed to be the most important few weeks of my life.
It all came and went without consequence.
BO, 19, is studying childcare in Bath. Born with a congenital heart defect, she had to leave the city and shield at home a week before lockdown began. She was living with her mum, sister and brother, Malcolm, 12, for weeks. She says:
AFTER spending time living away from home with my mates, things were very different being locked in the house knowing I couldn’t escape to see my friends. I desperately missed them.
It felt so weird not having them near to me. I would Facetime my best friend a good five to six times a day.
And I hated suddenly having to eat at the times Mum wanted. I was used to doing my own thing.
She just made me feel like everything I did was irritating.
And every time I opened my mouth, I got a lecture. So I just used to keep myself to myself, stay in my room and avoid any conversation.
It felt like she was still treating me like a child, when I’m 19.
At first, tensions were really high at home.
I’d say that Mum and I are either best friends or worst enemies.
We were both so on edge and anxious because we didn’t know what to expect.
I was going through the announcements and guidance from the Government forensically and I think this drove Mum mad.
I definitely felt like Mum was very up and down.
She was more irritable, lost her patience and some-times she would just well up.
Then we’d get a speech about the menopause. Really giving me something to look forward to when I’m her age . . .
Also, there wasn’t much to do, so I’d go online shopping and Mum just flipped, saying we didn’t know what the future held and had to go easy on spending.
This was always followed by a lecture about, “When I was young, I never had this that or the other.”
I just felt she didn’t get me.
Mum would have a go at me for pointless things such as not changing the toilet roll.
Like, in my eyes, we’re not having anyone coming to the house to impress, so why does it need to be tidy?
Having me, Martha and my brother Malcolm and Mum in the house, I knew it would be a struggle as we don’t always get on for long spells.
With four different sleeping patterns, mindsets, wants and needs, it was a massive struggle.
But being forced to spend time with each other, we did all get on occasionally and it was nice.
After many weeks of arguments and tears with Mum, things started to improve.
I think I made a real effort to be more helpful and be around everyone else a bit more.
Now I’m back living in Bath I miss Mum more than ever and would take back every argument we had and swap it for a snuggle in her bed.
AVOID PASSING YOUR STRESS TO CHILDREN
By Anjula Mutanda Psychologist and vice president of relationship charity Relate
Let’s face facts — it’s been a challenging and unsettling time.
We got used to one way of operating when lockdown was imposed, and now we have a new set of rules to follow just as the summer holidays have started.
As parents, we want to do the best we can for our children, so mums and dads shouldn’t be too hard on themselves.
It’s a stressful situation, but be careful not to transmit that to your children because youngsters pick up on everything.
Look at the things you can control. Think about the things you can do, rather than those you can’t.
Make a list of activities such as day trips, picnics in the park or going to the cinema, and stick them on the fridge so the kids have something to look forward to.
You may have spent 24/7 with each other over the past few months but ensure you prioritise quality time together, such as going out for a family bike ride or walk.
Quality time apart is also important. Let younger children build a den in the garden — and if you have teenagers, don’t barge into their room without knocking.
Remember they have different needs. Younger ones might be confused by the new rules, such as wearing masks, so sit down with them, be reassuring and explain.
And if you don’t know the details, find out together.
Don’t be too hard on your teen if they spend more time on their phone. It may be their own means of contact with their peers and it’s vital to keep friendships going.
Don’t let family squabbles escalate. If your five-year-old has trashed your house, go for a quick walk before coming home and calmly explaining why it is not acceptable. Why not suggest setting aside a space for them where they can take part in some messy play, such as painting?
I recently had an argument with my teenage daughter over something minor. After I had cooled down, I sent her a text apologising. She came downstairs and we had a hug. It was forgotten in minutes.
At times such as these there is no point in holding grudges.
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