The happiest memory of lockdown was hearing my three-month-old baby laughing for the first time at my frantic attempts to entertain him by dancing to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give you Up” in our living room. Fortunately (or possibly, unfortunately), my wife recorded it on her phone, in between fits of laughter.
But I spent most of lockdown with my head down in the study, having taken on as many writing and editing jobs as possible. I was concerned that we’d encounter some financial problems, because my wife, a hugely talented wedding photographer, was facing a very uncertain future. In the end, I went into some sort of misguided superhero mode and took on too much work. While that helped with our financial worries, I didn’t get to spend as much time with my wife and baby as I wanted to. I’ve learned a lot about a healthier work-life balance now though, and I think we’re all much happier for it.
One thing I discovered during lockdown, a mere 14 years late, was Twitter. I found that there was a community of utterly hilarious mums and dads all over the world, who were laughing about how ridiculous their lives had become, navigating homeschooling, emergency hairdressing and forgetting to put banana in their experimental banana bread. Some of the Tweets were so funny that I thought it would make a great little book. So I put together a book proposal with some ideas for illustrations and sent it off to a publisher. Luckily, they loved it and it became Lockdown Parenting Fails (published by Welbeck and released on the 1st October).
If it was one thing that was booming during lockdown, it was the number of people at home reading. I’m not a doctor, a paramedic or a social worker, but one thing I can do is write silly books to bring a smile to people’s faces. Suddenly, in late March, sales of my previous books, especially the activity book I’d written about David Attenborough in 2018, were skyrocketing as parents were looking for ways to keep their kids and themselves entertained.
Meanwhile, downstairs, our social engagements were limited to waving at the postman through the window and catching up with the neighbours on our very friendly Brighton street after the clap for carers. I’ll always remember my wife and I standing on our doorstep banging saucepans while pausing every few seconds to check the baby monitor. But we missed seeing our families, who weren’t local and the friends we’d made through our NCT group, although we did enjoy a couple of boozy Zoom pub quizzes. More than that, though, we felt sad for our boy, who was missing out on the opportunity to play with kids his age. But as restrictions loosened and we were able to meet up with people again, he’s become more and more sociable, turning into the smiliest, happiest, silliest creature we could ever have wished for.
Lockdown Parenting Fails compiled by Nathan Joyce is out now, published by Welbeck priced £9.99 in hardback.