Updated: Nov 22, 2021
Ironically when I offered to pen a blog about my experiences working from home with kids in lockdown, I hadn’t fully anticipated just how little time I would have to undertake this and when I did have a bit of time, to be quite honest I had needed to spend this slumped on the sofa with a glass of wine watching Dave, to keep my mind off the strange reality we find ourselves in at the moment.
When the news of Covid-19 and the lockdown came through, I did what most parents would do and my thoughts went to my kids and I was quite happy to batten down the hatches to protect everyone for however long it took. It is a disconcerting time to be living in and being a parent heightens fears and anxieties about the outside world and the impact of all of this on our children. I have a 7 year old in year 3 at school and a toddler, so I am balancing working part time, home schooling and running around after a not quite 2 year old. I’ll be honest, it has been a shock to the system and there are days where things don’t go well, we have both children in tears at some point and we lose a grip on things. However my husband and I are lucky – we are both easily able to work from home and have understanding employers who are allowing us to work in shifts to look after the children as well. We have space in the house and a decent size garden so we haven’t felt too penned in and the children have space to play and run around.
"All the rooms looked like they’d had a herd of elephants traipsing through them and I needed a large glass of wine and a deep breath before clean up commenced!"
As I surveyed the house perhaps week 2 into lockdown I did wonder whether we could do actually this longer term. All the rooms looked like they’d had a herd of elephants traipsing through them and I needed a large glass of wine and a deep breath before clean up commenced! Just so much clutter and mess from another day with the kids, remnants of home school, washing up, washing and endless unfinished tasks. Would the house ever be tidy enough to actually clean it again?! Even for a true Cancerian, like myself, who normally loves to be at home around my family, I did questioned whether this might just ruin my love of home just a little.
4 weeks in to lockdown and we had arrived at Easter and thank goodness, as if we were worried about running out of food, the supermarkets certainly hadn’t run out of chocolate eggs and this gave me even more of an excuse to drown my woes in some chocolate after a bad day ... okay on some occasions. …. morning! I do confess to hiding in my bedroom on more than one occasion with a cup of tea and an Easter egg while child number 2 was asleep and child number 1 was having enforced downtime. The second of my Easter hideaways was after a particularly bad day with the usual battle that was morning home school, promptly followed by me getting a little tired of going through the usual list of amazing things to do at home, as a break from maths, though each option met with a resolute ‘no’. This battle resulted in my eldest announcing she was bored at home and wanted to go back to school and see her friends we both promptly burst into tears. That was not a good day. I have also cried singing lullabies to my youngest at night and oddly on the days I thought I had held everything together pretty well. Music always seems to get me when I’m a bit wobbly and perhaps I had been holding things together a little too well those weeks. I reckon working parents usually have a day or two most months juggling work, the kids and the house where everything comes crashing down and we drop all the balls and have to pick ourselves up again and carry on. These days were getting closer together.
"I do confess to hiding in my bedroom on more than one occasion with a cup of tea and an Easter egg while child number 2 was asleep and child number 1 was having enforced downtime. "
The most difficult thing for working parents to get to grips with at the moment is the lack of headspace, as usually our commute separates our home and work lives quite nicely and gives us time to adjust between the two. However I now have a few seconds ‘commute’ from the hall to the dining room and back again and I go straight into the other role with no break at all. However, between the stresses of doing everything at home - work, school, nursery, eating, sleeping and attempting to clean the house - I have noticed though that in some ways I am actually less stressed. There are no kids parties or play dates to remember, no school clubs to pick up from, no World Book Day outfits to remember - well, to realise I’ve forgotten the night before and then hastily stick an outfit together very last minute, no cake sales to bake (or buy!) for, no nursery or school bags to pack. There’s no commute, no dashing between school, nursery and home, no constant feeling of guilt as you bounce from one thing to the next, not really being too sure you’ve done any of it right. Life has slowed down - it has had to and I like that part. It did sometimes feel as though it was all going too fast and we couldn’t keep up and now it’s often easier to be present with the kids. We have been going back to basics with playtime, back in time almost - bubbles, dens, treasure hunts and cloud watching in the garden. We have gone on lots of long walks and bike rides which we rarely had a chance to do amongst all the rushing around before. It is an awful situation we find ourselves in, with Covid-19 causing a catastrophic loss of life and suffering around the world, but something about having to lockdown is making us reengage with what is really important to us.
"What if in amongst all of this there are some positives – that it makes us better parents and our kids turn out better and not worse? What if we and our kids are more empathetic, calmer without the constant to-ing and fro-ing of everyday life ...."
Week 10 and counting......
It has been 10 weeks now and although the initial panic has subsided and some weekend days it feels like we are on holiday with the sun shining and not a care in the world, there are still worries about how life will look when and if things start to get back to some kind of normal. We are all hoping for the lockdown to end at some point and of course it has now sunk in this is going to take a long time and then perhaps it won’t quite be back to life as we know it. Will things only ever get back to normal once a vaccine has been found or can we manage to live around this virus? I am worried for my children, especially my eldest, not just because she is missing school, though mostly because she is missing any meaningful interactions with her friends, which is so crucial for any child and especially for primary age kids. My youngest is nearly 2 and is loving being at home and is developing so fast we can’t quite believe it - though at least both my husband and I are at home to witness every single moment …. apart from when Peppa Pig does a shift towards tea time!
It has been an extremely challenging time for parents and it isn’t helped by all the media exposure which perpetuates anxieties about when our children can resume school and see their friends and when we can see our wider families and friends again. What if in amongst all of this though there are some positives – that it makes us better parents and our kids turn out better and not worse? What if we and our kids are more empathetic, calmer without the constant to-ing and fro-ing of everyday life before, more appreciative of the value of things and more grateful for the smaller, simpler things in life? Let’s see. In the meantime I have found the best coping strategy is to take each day as it comes, hugely lower my expectations of myself and abilities to home school in particular … and take a deep breath.
Written by Anonymous Working (And Utterly Brilliant) Mum
Reduce the stress of caring about how you manage mental health
After a 3-months long open dialogue with over 20 HR directors and senior managers, Amplify recently launched the HR and Manager Consultation programme, a pioneering service that specifically helps HR teams and managers reduce the stress of caring about how they manage mental health at work.