Mindy Hammond’s tips for surviving lockdown with the family

Mindy, exhausted by housework

Mindy, exhausted by housework (Image: Susan Hellard)

In the days when a wet Sunday afternoon was spent watching an old Western or one of my favourite Doris Day films, Calamity Jane, I’d glance at my parents who would almost always be grabbing 40 winks. 

It seemed whenever they sat down for more than five minutes in a comfortable chair, the inevitable happened.

After a few years, I accepted it was simply what parents did.

The poor old souls were just perpetually tired.

Mindy’s daughter reveals her dyed hair

Mindy’s daughter reveals her dyed hair (Image: Susan Hellard)

I’m now older than my parents were when their “winkometer” was at its highest level and wonder how they ever had time to sit down on a Sunday afternoon and watch (or snooze through) a whole film.

Then I remember. We might have spent Sunday mornings savouring the aroma of a roast lunch but, once the meal was done, Mater and Pater were quick to disappear to the sitting room, leaving piles of washing up (this was the pre-dishwasher era) for the children to deal with. 

Mindy’s hens provide eggs

Mindy’s hens provide eggs (Image: Susan Hellard)

I now spend most of my Sunday morning preparing our feast.

I then spend a good hour clearing away and loading the dishwasher while the rest of the family saunters off.

Admittedly, even after an hour of clearing away, there’s little time left during which there are dogs to be walked and fed and ponies to be mucked out, put out, brought in, put to bed etc.

But even so, lockdown has to bring some advantages and surely sharing chores is top of the list?

The Hammond ponies

The Hammond ponies (Image: Susan Hellard)

We’d a minor hiccup when Richard parked the recycling bin in a slightly different place.

After Willow and I spent half an hour searching for our elderly terrier, she called from the back door, “Found him. He was stuck between the bin and the wall.”

Captain was repeatedly attempting to walk into the wall, rather like a bewildered wind-up toy.

He’s like an ant following a trail.

If anything new is put in his path, it throws him.

Since the incident with the wheelie bin, he’ll turn tail even if the only obstacle is a spindly twig he could walk over.

Now Willow is not an early riser, so we were surprised and delighted when she joined us before lunchtime, announcing she needed a break from schoolwork.

“You could do some mucking out,” I suggested.

But the idea of changing out of her pyjamas to brave the great outdoors was abhorrent.

She planned to resume playing the piano (a hobby abandoned years ago) and instead of picking up where she left off, chose pieces at a level way beyond her original ability.

One week on, we have grown accustomed to hearing a few bars of beautiful music, followed by a yell of frustration, a few expletives and half an hour of stilted notes.  

Mindy’s mare

Mindy’s mare (Image: Susan Hellard)

To her credit, Izzy has been helping me in the kitchen and has embraced our frugal food-management system.

She cooked banana cake, once I pointed out the tiny chocolate buttons called for in the recipe could be replaced by chopping up a few chocolate mini eggs – which she instructed me to do.

The cake was delicious, although I found the clearing up heavy going, and the dogs are well exercised, if muddy, so I find myself showering and drying them.

Willow’s piano practice is improving, even if the sheet music spread across the table takes some clearing.  

Mindy and pets

Mindy and pets (Image: Susan Hellard)

So, when I’ve finally produced a roast dinner, cleared the kitchen and prepared the table, and once the meal is eaten, every inch of my being craves the comfort of the sofa and a glass of red.

In the doghouse

In the doghouse (Image: Susan Hellard)

How I admire Josephine Cochrane, the inventor of the dishwasher, but how much greater in these days of extra housewifery is my admiration for my parents who engineered their Sunday afternoons to perfection, their only tools being washing-up liquid and a dishtowel. 

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