In her new column, the beauty podcaster describes the challenges of working from home, homeschooling two young children and not locking the bathroom door. From period dramas to life-saving beauty tools, it's all here
Like many people at the moment I have two personas, the pre-Covid-19 me and lockdown me.
I work as a beauty expert and broadcaster, juggling motherhood with interviewing people for my beauty and wellness podcast Outspoken Beauty . But now my posh London recording studio has been replaced by a makeshift setup in the corner of my bedroom, operated by Lockdown Me wearing a onesie. It actually works a treat - I recorded a podcast episode with brand founder Trish McEvoy last week and it felt like she was in the room.
Like most of the nation, I speak to clients via Zoom (with my kids, aged six and three, giggling in the background) taking turns with my husband, who works in media, to do the homeschooling. Unlike him, I’m freelance and have more flexibility, which means my days are a mixture of jumping like a maniac on the trampoline, trying to understand maths homework, running upstairs to hastily apply some mascara for a work call and then rolling around in the mud.
We’ve worked out shifts where my husband looks after the children up to 9am, over lunch and then when the working day has finished doing teatime and baths. Those are the times when I can catch up on all my work. I now record podcast interviews at 9pm when the kids are asleep. I live in a crazy, messy, stressful world where a moment’s peace does not exist. Me time? Forget it.
in lockdown with small children nowhere is sacred, even the loo
When you’re in lockdown with small children, nowhere is sacred, particularly the loo. I mean there is never much toilet privacy in normal life, but now that we’re all at home 24/7 it is apparently the perfect place for a family gathering.
I never ever lock the bathroom door when the kids are around as I like to keep an ear out for them – but yesterday, they charged in while I was dealing with my period. First Louis, who is obsessed with water and its potential for making a mess, who marched straight to the tap to see how far he could make the water spray, oblivious to what I was up to. But nothing escaped my eagle eyed-daughter Poppy, who followed on behind. Rooted to the spot with eyes agog she gasped “WHAT IS THAT MUMMY?”. That was my sanitary towel.
I’m the type of parent that would rather call a vagina a vagina (rather than a nunny or foo foo) but seeing as she is only just six, I wasn’t quite mentally prepared for the question. So, I did what any sensible person would do and informed her that “mummy was wearing a nappy and had laid an egg”. (I mean WTF? Where did that even come from?). Cue snorts of laughter from both kids and screams of “Mummy’s a hen! Mummy’s a hen”.
At this point, my husband marched in to see what the hilarity was about and there’s nothing sexier than a woman on the loo with her sanitary towel in plain sight and her kids announcing that she is a member of the poultry family.
Since then I have actually explained periods – and toilet boundaries – in a bit more depth. It has led to the inevitable questions. “Where was I before I was in your tummy?”. Well, you were a bit in mummy and a bit in daddy. “But where?” You were in mummy’s tummy and ummmm daddy’s balls…? And once again we laughed that daddy has balls and then Louis cried because he doesn’t want balls and there was a lot of hysteria and emotion that culminated with us sharing a packet of chocolate buttons and watching Maddie Moate presenting Do You Know on CBeebies – she looks like she most definitely has her shit together. I bet she has a lock on her bathroom door.
In between trying to explain the facts of life to very young children, putting out my podcast and generally worrying about the future, I’ve been buying a few essentials. Here’s my lockdown list of pick-me-ups.
My new WFH/home schooling top
I had an urge to buy something colourful to boost my spirits that also fitted with the whole working from home/ home schooling vibe. This really lifted my spirits.
The genius all-purpose sanitiser
Clinisept Plus Aftercare, £14.99
One of the most exciting products around at the moment. It's a skin-friendly anti-bacterial and viral spray with a number of benefits. Sprayed on a cotton wool pad and swiped on the skin AM and PM after cleansing it will help clear spots and acne, it heals wounds, helps deal with the likes of athlete’s foot and perhaps most importantly at the moment, it can be used as a highly efficacious hand sanitizer (it has been proven to kill coronavirus in 15 seconds). I carry it with me at all times.
The grooming essential
Tweezerman Tweezers, £21.95
I have no idea why but my chin hairs have been growing at a rate of knots since lockdown. Maybe I’ve just been noticing them more. The only tweezers I use (and have done for decades) are Tweezerman. They grab hold of every last little hair and are the original and the best.
The skincare luxury
These pads are formulated with PHAs which are the milder, gentler sister of AHAs. The brilliant Pamela Marshall, founder of Mortar and Milk recommended them to me and they are truly excellent. Used in the morning (after cleansing and Clinisept, see above) they gently exfoliate the skin but also work to strengthen the barrier, reduce wrinkles and give you a gorgeous glow. With continued use, my skin has benefitted more and more.
The period un-drama
Dame Tampons, £8.50 for 34
I never used to use tampons because they gave me a headache and really bad cramps. But since discovering Dame Tampons which are organic and toxin-free I haven’t had a problem. As an added bonus, they come with a reusable applicator . It’s hard to use at first but once you get the hang of it, it’s effortless. After the sanitary towel debacle, I may go back to wearing tampons full-time.
The Zoom mascara
When I have a Zoom meeting I lavish my lashes with this mascara. As someone who loves big, voluminous lashes, this really is a great one and it takes a lot to budge it.
Nicola Bonn is the host of the Outspoken Beauty Podcast
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