COVID-19 Through the Eyes of a Parent Working From Home
I believe it was shortly after the historic pasta and toilet paper riots when working parents around the UK suddenly had their two worlds collide. Almost overnight lockdown forced us all to work full time jobs from home while at the same time, nurseries and schools around the country closed down one by one.
I’m pretty sure most working parents out there would agree with me that juggling a full time job with children is an Olympic sport during normal times, so it was always going to be interesting as we became working professionals navigating a new working landscape, becoming home-school teachers and parents all rolled into one!
My personal situation was with my almost two-year old Sebastian (who is into EVERYTHING) and my husband still heading out to work (which we are eternally grateful for!). Honestly though, I take my hat off to those parents with more than one child, or older children who require a little more education than occasionally singing the alphabet and throwing some paint around.
So, for those people out there blessed with the freedom of no children, here is a snapshot of what an “average” working day with little mister running around the house looked like for me:
(Potentially after being woken up at least twice throughout the night with cries for milk and cuddles.)
Wake up, shower, throw makeup on for the inevitable Zoom meetings that day, get little man up, clean him and pin him down to brush his teeth.
Make porridge, feed it to him, try to eat something myself – drink lots of coffee. Tidy the house.
Work day starts, generally a 2 hour Zoom meeting, usually with him attached to my side either closing the laptop part way through or screaming in the background because he isn’t getting any attention (thank god for “mute” on Zoom!).
Coffee, coffee, coffee. Attempt to work as quickly as possible while picking up toys, picking up him and generally just stopping him from harming himself, which toddlers seem so intent on doing.
Make a wholesome lunch for him which will inevitably end up being thrown on the floor, clean up said mess, tidy house again and put him down for his nap (HOORAY).
Blessedly work uninterrupted for sometimes one hour, hopefully three, while trying to smash out six hours of work in this time. Amazon delivery man rings the doorbell and bashes down the door (I’m sure delivery men have become louder during this pandemic..) resulting in the nap being cut short….
Field phone calls and try to sound professional with a toddler crying in the background, decide to set up a desk in the backyard so he can play outside while I can work and feel less guilt. Break ALL the screen time rules we had in place just to keep him entertained.
Cook a healthy dinner which ends up on the floor, tidy the house which has somehow become a bomb-site again.
Bath time, bedtime (HOORAY) and try to finish up any work that was missed during the above carnage.
(sometimes 9pm) WINE!
“Why do you even have children?” I hear you cry. Well of course because they are delightful little creatures who teach you to love like you’ve never loved before and not take yourself, or life, too seriously, otherwise I would agree with you!
For me what really ended the madness was being placed on furlough for four weeks, at which point I looked back to wonder how I even did it. Like many things about this whole pandemic and the government response to it, we had no idea how long this was going to last which forced us to just get stuck in. I think if we had all known from the outset that we would still be in lockdown three months later, it would have felt completely overwhelming.
Of course, it wasn’t all chaos and doom. I have been able to spend so much quality time with Sebastian that I never had before and for once it is us doing 100% of the parenting, rather than having it diluted with nursery. With the long commute now removed, we haven’t woken up to the sound of an alarm for months and we now have an extra two hours of time in our day together. There are so many positives that, to be honest, it will be difficult to transition back to the way things were, if and when that is going to be the case.
Having now had some time and space from work to reflect, there are some helpful tips to share and I stress that I only know these things because these are the things I WASN’T doing:
- If it gets too much, walk away from the work. No work is so important that it can’t wait for ten minutes, but losing it in front of your child never feels good, for you or for them
- Get out of the house! Go for that walk, it resets you and them
- RELAX, all you can do is go with the flow
- Communicate with your partner so they know what is going on
- Forgive yourself! There is only so much a person can do
And here are a couple of helpful links that I probably should have read beforehand:
And to all of those working parents out there, I take my hat off to you – you’re doing an amazing job even if sometimes it REALLY doesn’t feel like it!
Take care and stay safe!
Business Operations Director
Australasian Recruitment Company
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