Jakki Jones’ Diary of a Mum: Lessons from Lockdown

Riley starts big school

Welcome to Jakki Jones’ Diary of a Mum column. Each month, the illustrator shares her adventures in motherhood.

I haven’t written my Diary of a Mum column for the last few months, as I – like the majority of the nation – have been trying to keep afloat in the crazy, manic world of home schooling, working from home and navigating the relentless day-to-day of home life in lockdown. Unprecedented times, indeed!

To say it has been a busy few months is quite an understatement. Thankfully my husband has been at home with me (usually, at this time of year he is often working away from from home weeks on end and I’d be home alone). It’s been quite an extreme change for us all. Never did I ever imagine my maternity leave would be interrupted by five other people living and breathing in every room I walk into. We have learnt to live with each other and carefully respect people’s space, mood swings, meltdowns and tantrums.

Riley and Daddy’s volcano homeschool creation.

The hoover is never off and the dishwasher is always on. Never have I been to Tesco so much – nor have I looked forward to going to Tesco so much! It’s so nice just to get out, and actually talk to someone other than a member of my family. One of the highlights this year had been going to my local pharmacy and buying a green Rimmel Eyeliner, which took me back to my teenage years. I’ve also been playing a lot of songs from my youth. I have no idea why, maybe it’s because it brings me back to simpler times; when all I had to think about was which boy I had a crush on and what outfit I wanted to buy from Diesel. I never imagined I would actually grow up, become an actual ADULT and have to look after people!

Passing the time making home made cards

The children managed to go back to school last term (after what felt like a year off) – for a few weeks at least, and then three weeks later we were back to entertaining and feeding them all over again. The whole country was in the same boat but I must admit I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders when the children went back to school. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children and I have loved being with Riley and guiding her through home learning, but boy, was I was happy to see her go back to school! I think we both needed it.

Getting Crafty with Homeschooling

My elder step-children needed it too. Colby, now 16, has had a complex few months, working though lots of personal hurdles and school pressures – especially as GCSEs will now not take place this summer and so pressure is on to make all work every minute of school count to get a decent grade from teachers. Misty, too, has been choosing options and the pair of them, on their computers all day for school are also on them all evening, as for a long time it was the only way they were able to see their friends.

As parents we were caught in that weird limbo of trying to monitor screen time, but on flip side encouraging them to speak to their friends and keep up a bit of normality. Only time will tell what the after affects will be of all of this will be for our children – and ourselves!

Playing dress-up with Marley.

As a family we have been trying to appreciate simple pleasures and take pride in small victories. Keeping a tidy home, cooking together and sharing a meal every night has been a highlight. Going out for a walk around the block with the baby and bringing back a coffee. Speaking to a friend at least once a day and writing cards. I am taking each day as to comes right now – trying hard to remember the important things in life and making each moment count as we head out of this latest lockdown.

Jakki Jones’ Top Picks

Boden Unicorn Leggings

boden-unicorn-leggings-jakki-jones-diary-of-a-mumBoden Unicorn Appliqué Leggings in Navy, £17

Wonder Woman Costume

Riley in her Wonder Woman costume

Rubie’s Official DC Justice League Wonder Woman Costume, £23.99

Weleda Calendula Baby Shampoo and Body Wash

weleda-calendula-baby-shampooWeleda’s Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash, £8.25 

Bugaboo Ant Pushchair

bugaboo-ant-diary-of-a-mum-pushchairBugaboo Ant, from £499

Kukui Noir Eau de Parfum

KukuiNoir-perfume-jakki-jones-top-picksConnock London Kukui Noir Eau de Parfum, £45

Drishti Bracelet

stacked-bangles-sized-scaled-drishtiDrishti Gold Bracelet from Liv Thurlwell, £170

Infantino Nightlight

infantino-nightlight-diary-of-a-mumInfantino Nighlight from Argos, £19.99

Jakki Jones’ Diary of a Mum: One Proud Mumma

Who would have thought it? My little girl finally off to big school. Wow, these last four years have flown by. And I’m not going to lie, getting here was a process I certainly hadn’t prepared for. I never knew the school system in London was so tricky and competitive – nor did I care – until, of course, our time arrived and then all of a sudden, I absolutely did!

Just over a year ago we applied for three schools that are local to us, all of which were assessment based. And I had no idea what that meant. How can you possibly assess a 3-year-old? What are they looking for? Who can pick Mayor Humdinger out of a Paw Patrol line-up the fastest? Surely not.

Over the break last Christmas, the nursery had assured us that Riley had had a great term and advised us just to enjoy the holidays and not to worry about the upcoming assessments (set for after the festive brea). But I found I was lying in bed at night worrying: What if she doesn’t get in anywhere? What if they don’t see what we see; a confident, capable, independent little firecracker? (obviously I am biased, we all love our own kids!). I then started worrying about us as parents: What if we don’t fit in? We are both creatives, and I imagined doctors and lawyers’ children lining up to sit these assessments. Maybe we aren’t the right fit!

Despite my anxieties, I didn’t put them onto Riley and to my relief, I realised my negative energy was wasted as Riley knocked it out of the park and got into all three schools! The main fear, I guess, was that I realised it was all out of my hands. Usually if it’s an exam, or project or a big thing happening, I can steer the ship. If I’m not successful, I can just blame myself…. but this was all down to her, no help from me.

Riley getting ready for a day at school

It was definitely a first big proud moment. And now we have just completed our first term at big school. I’ve never seen Riley happier. Her confidence, her energy and her determination are all thriving, and it’s been wonderful stepping back, and watching her grow.

These pandemic times have meant we have had to be more distant at the school gates – and I actually think it’s helped Riley and her peers settle in. I am sure it’s made life easier for the teachers, not having to deal with dozens of anxious, over-protective and pushy parents every morning and afternoon, who all require a detailed breakdown and specific feedback as to how their little darlings’ day was. Me being one of them!

COVID-19 has made all the kids more resilient and they just ‘get on with it’. The fact that on their first day of school, each child walked in with just their fellow classmates, rather than holding their parents’ hands, is a big thing for a little one. But what a fantastic, huge step this is, going forward in this crazy world we now live in.

Independence, resilience and determination is key for our future thinkers. I am definitely one proud Mumma!

Jakki Jones’ Top Picks

Love My Read Subscription

Love My Read subscription with special Doodles discount (follow the link below)

I’ve recently signed Riley up to this amazing subscription service where you get a newly released book every month to your door. They have offered me a 20% discount if any of you are keen to use my discount (follow this link!). They will also donate a book to a school of your choice for every 12-month sign-up.

1-month Love My Read subscription starting at £10.39 with Doodles discount

Infantino Baby’s 1st Playset

Infantino-baby-playsetMarley adores his first playset. The objects are super easy for him to hold, helping his development of motor skills, as well as the exploration of textures and colours. He turned 6 months earlier this month – where has the time gone?

Infantino Baby’s 1st Playset, £30

The Joy Journal for Magical Everyday Play: Easy Activities & Creative Craft for Kids and their Grown-ups

diary-of-a-mum-joy-journal-magical-playMy dear friend Laura has written this amazing book which is all about doing crafts at home. Simple, fun ideas to do with your little ones. A great help in lockdown and everyday life – especially with those trying to get their kids off digital devices.

The Joy Journal for Magical Everyday Play, £12.99

Kit & Kin Chunky Knit Grey Hat

Marley in his Kit & Kin chunky knit bunny hat enjoying cuddles with daddy.

My dear friend Emma Bunton‘s fantastic eco-friendly baby brand has just launched the most beautiful new clothing, including the cutest hat I’ve seen (modelled expertly by Marley above). This chunky knit hat is not only super sweet but it’s also made from 100% organic cotton and sustainable cotton.

Kit & Kin organic grey hat, £16.99

Electric Eye Apparel Sweatshirt

ULJOINERAGEDSALMON2Being a huge music fan, I love this brand. They offer a bespoke service of your favourite lyrics stitched into an item of clothing.

Unisex Electric Eye Apparel Sweatshirt, £53.99

SBTRCT Moisturising Face Balm

Jakki-Jones-top-picks-SBTRCT-Moisturising-Facial-BalmI’m Obsessed with this facial balm, which comes from a new brand called Sbtrt. I use it in the morning and at night.  It’s really thick and contains Glycerine, squalane, rosehip oil and shea butter which all work together to moisturise, restore and protect the skin. It feels like you are putting goodness back into your skin.

SBTRCT Moisturising Face Balm, £28.00