“I’m such a bad mum.” Five words we tell ourselves, veiled in the feeling that we’re just not doing it right. The truth is, with the bar of motherhood set so impossibly high, there really is no doing it right, all the time, in every way. And now, in the throes of a global pandemic, the bar has shifted even higher. If you, too, are making meals out of old cereal, abandoning screen-time limits, and, you know, are occasionally terrified about what the future holds, you’re not alone. No Bad Moms is a series about not just lowering the bar, but ditching it completely. It’s about finding the good mum within all of us. And most of all, honouring that in each other, on Mother’s Day and EVERY day. So, please share your stories about what it’s like to be a mum right now with #nobadmoms, because we see you. And, no matter what, we think YOU are an inspiration.
Working from home brings up unique challenges for mothers. With schools closed and childcare unavailable during COVID-19, many parents are left to juggle the responsibilities of their jobs with taking care of their kids. If finding balance was hard before the pandemic, it's pretty much impossible now. Despite the stress, uncertainty, and abundance of family "quality time," there are unique and beautiful moments of closeness that the long hours in close quarters create.
We asked three photographers who are in lockdown with their kids to document what their days are like right now. The result is an intimate collection of images that capture ordinary life in an extraordinary time.
Liz Von Hoene, Quarantined With 3 Kids
“The family that’s quarantined together, cooks together, cleans up together, swims together, and finds creative ways to not be bored together,” says Liz Von Hoene, a 54-year-old fashion and advertising photographer who has five children, ages 13 to 28. Liz and her partner, Rebecca Weinberg, are currently at home in Atlanta with three of the kids.
Liz usually travels for work; with that on hold, she’s had idle time to fill. The family is taking the dog on long walks and going for drives together. They put on an outdoor movie night. They do workouts in the yard. “Rebecca loves to DJ, so she hosted a Zoom family and friends dance party for all to let loose,” she says. “Our younger son, Rex, has been hitting the home gym, and working out with his big brother in the backyard. They do push-ups using milk gallons!”
“It has been awesome to sleep until 9 or 10 in the morning,” says Liz, who usually wakes up at 6.30 am. to get 13-year-old Rex ready for school. “We’ve all been staying up later than usual, playing video games and watching the entire Tiger King docuseries. We’re all finding ways to entertain ourselves into the wee hours.”
Mindy Byrd, Quarantined With A Toddler And Baby
“It’s survival mode over here,” says Mindy Byrd, who’s been at home with her partner, her three-year-old, and her 11-week-old in Portland, OR since March 6. “We’ve allowed more screen time than I’d like to admit, and have been letting [my toddler] stay up later, after the baby goes to bed for some one-on-one time with mum and dad. I’m trying to keep the mum guilt at bay. Letting him make messes when we typically try to keep the house clean has become more frequent — for work-from-home sanity reasons — while we make masks, paint, and colour together. Oh, and there have been so many Popsicles.”
Mindy and her partner are both freelance artists. They welcomed baby Sonny into the world not long before the coronavirus hit the US. “Our family is adjusting to our own new normal within the world’s new normal, one that keeps us inside a small space together every day with no breaks,” she says.
The 38-year-old says she’s glad that her children are too little to really grasp what’s going on. “My oldest son curls up next to me sometimes, and in his saddest voice says ‘Mum, I miss my friends every day,’” she says. “And it makes my heart hurt. But then he jumps up and runs to his train set, forgetting our emotional moment seconds earlier… Watching the world through their eyes is a blessing.”
“It’s amazing what fresh air can do for your spirits, especially with a newborn and toddler during this lockdown,” says Mindy. “The sun is out and the flowers are blooming everywhere in Portland, my favourite time of year. Watching my partner play and bond with our oldest child while most of my attention is focused on the baby has been really beautiful.”
Still, she adds, “I find myself occasionally feeling a tinge of jealousy when I see others online working on passion projects or becoming chefs. Some days I’m just the Diaper Queen of Baby Poop Island, wading through a sea of emotions from both kids. I’m breastfeeding while I pee and the other one bangs on the bathroom door.”
Tyra Mitchell, Quarantined With Twins
Tyra Mitchell, a mum of twin two-year-olds who’s based in Washington, D.C., says her family is missing the playground. A lot. But she’s still trying to find gratitude for the moments of joy while she’s at home with her daughters.
“The best thing about being quarantined with my minis has been having the chance to be more present,” the 26-year-old says. “Since our movement is limited, I have to be more creative in our daily activities. My girls absolutely love art and being outside so that’s how we spend most of our time. We’re fortunate to have a spacious backyard where they are able to run around freely and interact with nature.”
Tyra’s daily routine isn’t so different, despite social-distancing measures. Her daughters still take naps and go to bed at the same time, and her whole family is still following the same plant-based diet they were before the coronavirus. “Although, we have upped our vitamin intake, especially vitamin D when we’re inside for periods of a time,” she says.
As a self-employed freelance photographer and DJ, Tyra is used to being home with her children unless she’s on assignment.
“The most challenging part of being quarantined with my daughters is no different from my usual challenges as a stay-at-home mother — when I’m trying to get work done or need time to myself and they want my full attention. It’s not easy and gets really frustrating at times because you want your kids to be happy but you also have your other priorities.”
Still, since her kids are cooped up and play dates are on hold, she has had to find new ways to keep them busy while she attempts to finish projects. One solution: “More screen time for the girls,” she admits. But it’s not a perfect fix. “They're not crazy about TV and gadgets; they enjoy actual activities,” she notes. “So my attempts at running a movie or having their favourite show on repeat don’t really last long, and they’re coming to find me to play with them.”
"At two years old, my daughters aren’t aware of what’s happening,” Tyra says. “I’m sure somewhere in their minds they’re wondering why we haven’t been to any of our favourite places lately, but I make it my duty to keep them busy and distracted with other activities.”
She’s also trying to remain patient and optimistic herself. “I’ll occasionally have a moment of mild panic because it’s still unbelievable to me that this is our reality, but I make sure to take a deep breath. I stay calm for my girls and myself. I also try to have many moments of gratitude and give thanks for the fact that my family and I are in good health, have a home, and food to eat.”