That Lockdown Hair

The WHO declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020. My son, Noah, wasn’t even one on that date. 

Here is Noah just a few days before that.  

Noah in his Burnley FC shirt with his Burnley book.

Here is Noah on the Sunday just gone. He’ll turn two next month. 

Noah and his long hair.

You can sort of chart the course of the year by looking at his hair, which has obviously grown a lot since the pandemic began over a year ago. It was whispy and thin at that age. It’s now longer and thicker, and he has the most magnificent bedhead every morning.

We’ve had few opportunities to get it cut, with hairdressers being open for a few weeks before having to close again. Cutting it ourselves just makes it look like we’ve put a bowl on his head, so we’re content to keep it as it is for now.

But you can also see how much his face has changed. He’s now a little boy who can run around and say over 50 words. I’m constantly amazed by every new little thing he does, and he has a cheeky little character that always has me in fits of laughter. 

It’s a shame that the majority of a year of his life, which is a long time in a child of his age, has been spent being cooped up within the same four walls. We try to go for walks or go to the park when the weather is fine, but there’s only so much you can do when you’re limited to your local area and lots of activities you can do with your children are still closed.  

He still gets to the go to the childminders, so at least he has the social contact that he is mostly being deprived of in other areas right now. 

It’s the effect that the coronavirus pandemic has had on children that worries me the most. Maybe not so much Noah, as he’s still very young. But all the kids at school and the amount of learning – or simply just being able to be a child – that they’ve missed out on.  

It’s been hard for us all, mentally and physically, but I hate that children have had to miss out on chunks of their childhood. It’s something they’ll never get back.  

March Steps Challenge Mid-Month Check-Up

It’s halfway through the month, so it’s time for an update on our goal to hit 10,000 steps a day throughout March. Just a reminder that my wife, Alex, is raising money for Cancer Research UK while she does too. You can donate here.  

The good news is that we’ve managed to hit the target every day, even if it’s sometimes meant running up and down the living room at 10pm. My Fitbit says that I’ve done 196,701 steps since the start of March, which is well on the way to the 310,000 required by the end of the month.  

Steps that Thomas Mulrooney has done throughout March 2021.
You can see how I started off strong, but flagged a little by the second week. Still, it’s way better than the 42k steps I did in the last week of February.

I know some people who are doing it who aren’t doing 10,000 a day yet are still hoping to hit the target. In this case you’ll do more than 10,000 one day, then maybe only do 7,000 the next. But I’d rather not have a day off, so we’ve stuck to our guns. But, I’m not here to judge, so do it whichever way you wish. The priority is getting exercise. 

I won’t lie and say it’s been easy, as it’s been bloody hard at times. Sometimes you have a particularly busy day at work and, as I sit on my arse at a computer all day, I sometimes don’t get the chance to get many steps in. I try to remember to get up every hour and do at least 250 steps, because they all add up and it keeps me from being too inactive in a sedentary job. I also try and go on a walk on my lunch break, weather permitting. 

Speaking of the weather, that’s been a problem at times. Not that I’d expect anything less from the good old UK. It’s easy to say that you should go out and walk even if it’s raining. If it was a drizzle, sure, but I draw the line at lashings of rain amidst strong winds. On these days we have to do our steps inside, which usually ends up with me running up and down the living room.  

Alex has taken a less boring route than me and has taken to doing step workouts she found on YouTube. If you’re interested, the channel is called Get Fit With Rick. He has a variety of step workouts from a quick 1,000 to a knackering 10,000.  

I’ve also been trying to drink at least a 1.5 litre bottle of water every day. I started off well, but I’ve flagged a bit recently, so I need to get back into that. I have found that I feel a lot better when I do drink water, although you also have to pee a hell of a lot more. 

While it’s tiring at times and my limbs can ache the day after, it’s all worth it and I feel great. I weighed myself on the 4th March and I was 14st4lbs. I’m refusing to weigh myself again until April arrives, so fingers crossed that all this walking makes an impact.

But even if I don’t lose as much weight as I hope I will, I’m still seeing the benefits in being generally fitter, more awake and more switched on during the day.  

Just try it. You don’t have to do 10,000 but set a target you think is achievable and go from there. You’ll start to make decisions with increasing your steps in mind. You’ll do things like taking the stairs instead of the lift or getting off the bus one stop early. All these little things add up. Before you know it, you’ll be hitting your target in no time.  

I’ll report the results on the 1st of April. Until then, I’ve got some more walking to do! 

Lockdown Day 5167: Noah Gives Up

Noah is a now a human snail.

As the UK lockdown goes on and on (although hopefully, it will end in a few months) Noah has had enough and has now decided he wants to live inside a basket.

I don’t blame the kid, life stuck in this little house has got very dull. If putting a basket on his head is his form of entertainment, then I’m all for it.

I’m tempted to have a go myself. At least it’s something to do.

Don’t Worry About People Who Don’t Like You

A framed picture with the words 'self care isn't selfish' written across the middle. There is a plant in the foreground.

One thing I’ve come to realise is that you can’t spend your life worrying about why people don’t like you. Because no matter how nice or friendly a person you are, there will always be people in this world who don’t like you.

Whether it’s a clash of personalities or they’re simply someone who has little time for anyone else. You can’t force them to like you, so why waste your time in trying?

Ask yourself why you’re even bothered. Do you really need the approval of someone who has no interest in ever getting to know you?

If you’ve tried with someone and there’s not been an ounce of give, just let it go and move on.

People come and go from your life all the time. That person who couldn’t stand you at your last job should now be a distant memory. You don’t have to engage with them anymore because you don’t work with them anymore. They shouldn’t be living rent free in your mind.

Sometimes, the people who you don’t get along with will always be around due to various circumstances. In this case, just be amicable and friendly in situations where you must be in the same room as them. There’s little point in confronting them about why they don’t like you, as it will likely just make things worse. At least if you carry on being normal, the situation remains neutral, and the stress of an argument remains distant.

You can’t change others, but you can change how you respond to them. Plus, who knows? They may come around to you eventually, because they might see you’re not as bad as their mind was telling them.  But sometimes people will never change. It’s not on you spend enormous amounts of energy on trying to get them to change.

It’s even likely that the person who doesn’t like you is doing it because they want you to bite. They want you to confront them, or they want you to start treating them badly back so that they then have an excuse to get even worse. Some people just thrive off the drama. Don’t take the bait. 

Our personalities aren’t always compatible. That’s what makes humans so wonderfully unique. But we all just have to learn to get along with each other. I’m not saying be a door mat and let someone walk all over you. If someone is being intentionally nasty to you, it’s time to consider cutting them out of your life for good. There’s a difference in being civil towards someone who doesn’t really like you but doesn’t act nasty towards you, and someone who is clearly a toxic person who is never going to be a good influence on your life. In the latter case, other people usually start to notice that too. Someone like that will be on the fast road to having nobody around them.

Someone once told me that the best revenge is a happy life. Focus on yourself and your family. All that effort you’ve wasted on winning someone over who is never going to have much of an interest in you could be better spent on yourself and the people who do matter. Focus on living a good, fulfilled and happy life. Focus on looking after your family.

By worrying about whether someone likes you, you’re only wasting your energy. This is energy that you could be spending on more important and fulfilling things. Once you realise you don’t have to get everyone to like you, it’s much easier to focus your attention on those who do.

Further reading: How not to care when people don’t like you – Lifehacker.

The End Of Lockdown Is Nigh, Right?

From Monday, pupils will return to school in England. Schools have only been open to the children of key workers for months, with the majority of pupils having to continue their studies online at home. With schools returning, it will be a welcome relief for parents up and down the country, although teachers aren’t too happy about the prospect of carrying out lateral flow tests on thousands of teenagers.  

From 12 April, non-essential shops, hairdressers and some public buildings such as libraries will be allowed to reopen. I have already booked to get a haircut, but I’ve been trying to keep it tidy with clippers. 

By 17 May, indoor hospitality and hotels can reopen. This is a big thing for everyone as it’s a source of entertainment for many, as well as being a big part of the UK economy. It’s a bigger deal for me because I work within the hospitality sector. While I’ve luckily never had to be on furlough myself, we’ve seen a massive impact from the sector closing. 

By 21 June, all legal limits on social distancing will be removed and the final closed sectors of the economy can reopen. It will be weird to actually be able to be close to someone that isn’t your own household, although I feel like there will still be a lot of wariness out there.  

There is some irony in that Boris Johnson, our current Prime Minister, stressed that he didn’t want to put dates on things, then immediately went and put dates on things. Although I do understand that we need to have some sort of timetable for all this. 

Am I optimistic that everything will be back to normal by 21 June? No, because it’s not going to be any sort of normal for a long time. Covid-19 is here to stay, especially as we’re now being hit with multiple variants. The speed of the vaccine roll-out gives a lot of hope but, given the complete mess that the UK government has made of every stage of the pandemic, it’s not a stretch to say it would be unsurprising if that date passed us by.  

This was our last meal out before the whole country collapsed into chaos and the lockdown was announced.

I have no idea when I will be able to get the vaccine myself. I’m not in any kind of vulnerable category, so I’ll have to wait until the letters for over 30’s start getting sent out. My wife, Alex, has already had her first jab as she works for the NHS. She’ll be getting her second jab at the end of March.

We’ve really tried our best to stick to every rule that’s been put in place during our multiple lockdowns. It’s not always been easy, especially when we have a child that needs to be looked after when we’re supposed to be working, but we can safely say we’ve played our part. That can’t be said about the morons who still refuse to wear a face mask in places like supermarkets, bleating on about how it violates their ‘human rights’, but selfishness is an ugly human trait. 

That said, I’m really hoping that we can get back to some semblance of normalcy by June. I enjoy my home comforts and I never really say no to a night in, but I miss the ability to just go where we please. I miss being able to say ‘shall we go out for tea tonight?’, even if it’s just something cooked from frozen at our local pub. I even miss going to watch a film at the cinema, even if I always feel like throwing something at the noisy person in the row in front. 

But most of all, I miss being able to do things as a family. There’s only so much you can do in your home before you go a little stir crazy. We want to be able to visit places that are outside our local area, such as go for walks in the countryside or take a trip to Blackpool. When June rolls around, we’ll have all had to sacrifice over a year of our lives for the greater good. But it’s the kids I feel for, as a year to them feels like a lifetime. There are so many small milestones and activities that can be packed into a year, and I feel like he’s missed out on a lot of them. 

So, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do. It’s something I’m very much looking forward to, but it’s also something I’m nervous about as I’m always wondering if the goalposts will change, and we’ll have to wait even longer. 

3 Photos That Show A Child Has Taken Over Your Home

Everything changes when you have a child, including every room in your home. You’ll even find a sign of their presence in the rooms they never go in (at least that’s what they want you to think). You’ll find a random object that’s on the other side of the house from where it’s supposed to be. While the back of the sofa is apparently a good place to store your toys.  This is their home now, you’re just a guest who happens to feed them and change their dirty nappies.

Here are three photos that show a child has well and truly taken over your home. 

I see those Paw Patrol dogs whenever I close my eyes.

The bath is no longer a place to relax after a long day at work. It’s now a place where you have to peel off various bath toys that are stuck to the surface of the bath, or completely give up and kiss your relaxing soak goodbye. That’s if you even get the chance to have a bath, because you’ll inevitably hear your child screaming about something downstairs while they’re with the other parent. Bath bombs and candles cease to mean anything.  

They say that this is the War and Peace of toddler literature.

As I said yesterday, we fill our home with books so that we can encourage Noah to be a big reader as he grows up. My child must be super advanced for his age, because he’s suddenly giving me book recommendations by deciding to carry one of his books from his bedroom and popping it on top of the stack of books that lies next to my side of the bed. Either that or he thinks I’m socially inept and I struggle to say hello to people. 

I truly hope that my sons future child isn’t left face down in the middle of the floor.

Finally, your living room will go from looking neat and tidy to a complete bomb site within the space of 5 seconds. Because your child also has an attention span of about 5 seconds for each and every toy that they own. Once everything is out on the floor, they’ll inevitably get bored and wander off to try and play with something that they shouldn’t be touching, leaving you to accidentally step on one of their toy bricks for the 50th time.  

Oh, and that carpet you spent a small fortune on? Milk stains, milk stains everywhere. Admittedly, giving him a bottle of milk to run around with isn’t the best idea we’ve ever had. We should now be fully aware that a toddler will simply throw their bottle once they’ve had a swig from it.

My wife also wrote about the final point and used the same photo. While it looks chaotic, it’s actually been worse, and that photo only shows a small slice of the living room. He also appears to be watching TV in that photograph, completely ignoring the chaos he’s caused around him.  

If you’re about to become a parent, just be prepared to deal with every object in your home being suddenly sticky and you have no idea why. There’s little point in trying to keep the perfect home, especially when it will be all torn apart as soon as they wake up or walk through the front door. Just deal with the fact that this is your life until they’re old enough to fully comprehend what tidying up means. Of course, by then they’ll probably be refusing to do chores, but that’s something we can look forward to having to deal with in the future.