My daughter was just over a month old when the UK entered the first lockdown in March 2020. I knew we’d been extraordinarily lucky - our family had been able to meet her, my husband could visit us in the maternity ward during the long week I was admitted for high blood pressure and above all, our girl was healthy, happy and thriving.

Dark Lullaby

Dark Lullaby

One year on, in yet another lockdown, and I still count ourselves as extraordinarily lucky - our baby’s walking now, she demands to be read to and is in love with our very tolerant cat. Since her birth, I finally finished editing my debut novel for adults, ‘Dark Lullaby’ which is now about to come out. And the time we’ve spent with our daughter, in this turbulent year that has been her first, has felt extraordinarily precious – a beacon during such a testing period.

Here are my five top tips on how to survive lockdown with a new baby, while you’re working, and possibly even enjoy it:

1. Go with the Slow

The most important lesson I’ve learnt about parenting during the lockdown is the power of slowing down when I’m with my daughter. Life was forced to slow down during the first lockdown but babies are the masters of going slow and so I decided to learn from the best and embrace it. When I was with her, I made sure that she set the pace. I’d watch my tiny daughter and the more I looked, the more I could see her learning and experiencing - becoming herself, right in front of my eyes. I didn’t need to entertain or occupy her: I simply needed to be with her. At a time when life felt so fragile and hard, she reminded me that every moment really is miraculous.

2. Mission: Possible

In the very early days, sometimes I’d only manage to write for the shortest amount of time before my daughter would need me. Progress felt painfully, quite ridiculously slow. At first, I might only manage five minutes in one day. But rather than berate myself, I would feel pleased about what I’d managed. Making a goal completely possible is so incredibly important when you’ve not slept for longer than two hours in a stretch. Being kind to yourself is crucial. As the year progressed and there’s been more time that I can work - during naps, early bedtimes or when my husband can take her - I still use the same method. I identify one or a few things that I know that I can do, I do them and then I rest, making sure to give myself a mental high five.

3. Get Outside

Of course our outside time continues to be dictated by government guidelines but going to the park and to the local woods gave me such tremendous lifts on difficult days, I know how important it is to get out whenever I can. Even just a stomp around the block is so valuable for my headspace – especially when I’m juggling a brain full of work projects alongside the job of parenting. I invested in waterproofs and cold weather gear for my daughter and so nothing will stop us from getting out, even on the grimmest of days. It’s exercise, daylight and an opportunity for your baby to get to know the world outside of the four walls of your living room – win, win, win.

4. Find a way to do something creative, just for you

One of my fondest memories of 2020 is the day I first drew in the park with my daughter. I had been feeling desperate to do something creative, just for myself, but there didn’t seem enough time to do anything so self-serving. Then I realised that time with my daughter could be time for me too. I started to draw – even just for a few moments - while she was lying next to me on a picnic blanket in the park. She’d watch the branches swaying and me, drawing, as content as ever. Having these little moments of drawing, which was purely for my own enjoyment, felt so wonderfully rewarding. I believe it has helped my writing and has definitely made me a happier mum too.

5. When you can’t see people, make sure you still see people

Almost every day, we’ll video call family or friends, together. It doesn’t have to be very long - in fact, short and sweet is best. My daughter likes to play peekaboo with this friendly tribe of people who, for the moment, live inside the laptop. Sometimes she tries to pass them a toy she’s playing with. She knows to wave goodbye when we end the calls. It’s saved me during such an isolating time to be able to have these little chats – and maybe my daughter has been an excuse to make them so regular. And I know that when we do get through this, even though she’s not seen them in real life for so many months, her family won’t be strangers to her.