Attempting Perfection In a Pandemic

by Lucy Lerner

20th January, 2021

I wrote an article last Spring about feeling incompetent once the schools shut and we were in full lockdown. In a nutshell, it was about how I felt everyone was doing a better job than me, or so it appeared anyway. I would wake up to multiple texts from friends; one had been for a run, given her son solid 2-hour homeschooling and managed to bake banana bread. Another had helped her two children make a bird feeder out of recycling bottles and was about to start the Joe Wicks workout. Another had an 8-month-old baby but had already done a virtual baby music group and an online pilates class. Even my elderly neighbours were getting more exercise than I was with their daily Zoom yoga and Zumba. Yet I was barely functioning after another sleepless night. I remember scrolling through my Instagram feed, and it was pretty much the same thing: baking, sparkling houses with flowers in every room, crafts, healthy diets, homeschooling and exercise. Glossy photos of glowing skin and positive quotes amongst not so funny memes about the Corona Virus.

I have always prided myself on being able to do it all. I fit in my role as Editor of Neon Music, business and multiple freelance jobs along with the school run, playdates and after school activities. I make sure everything runs smoothly at home; the fridge is well-stocked, and bellies are well-fed. Homework is completed, clothes are clean and ironed, admin is up to date. And yet last year all that routine disappeared. I was struggling to hold it all together with work and homeschooling and had a constant stream of guilt my son was behind on everything. And none of us were getting enough exercise or eating particularly healthily.

Image by August de Richelieu

Then as the year went on, things kind of went back to normal. We could eat in restaurants again, go shopping and the kids went back to school for a whole term. However, here we are again staying at home and trying to juggle it all. Homeschooling started a few weeks ago and thankfully there is a more rigid timetable with online classes, registration and a lunch break. We have more of a routine this time around. I make my conference calls during the online classes, we eat lunch at a normal time and go for a walk as soon as school is finished. I have started to hear the words banana bread and Joe Wicks rear their head but I will try not to feel so guilty this time around if I don’t do those things myself.

I have to realise that none of us are perfect and we are dealing with this uncertainty the best way we can. If that means baking muffins and going for a run before 7 am then good for you. If it means teaching your kids Maths and English for four hours then making a casserole, great. If it means juggling work, a baby and having a beautifully dusted and vacuumed house to display on your Instagram feed then wonderful. If you stick your kids in front of Trolls so you can have a lie down then don’t feel bad. If you eat four bagels for breakfast and don’t wash your hair for a week, who cares? I need to remind myself it’s not a competition and just because everyone else seems to be fitting in the things I feel I should be doing it doesn’t mean I have to feel guilty or inadequate. And surely that is a big achievement.

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