At the end of the 8th week of this Coronavirus lockdown, I’ve found myself reflecting on this unique period with more positivity than I ever thought imaginable.
My role pre-lock down was clear. I was a corporate solicitor by day, a mum by evening and weekend. Easy(ish).
I remember driving home from my last day in the office before lock down and bursting into tears – how on earth was I going to juggle being a solicitor, mum, teacher, cook, and cleaner all at once? We have however, as a family, found a way to make it work(ish).
We soon discovered the children (aged 7 and 4) still needed routine so we have a timetable for the day. Everyone needs to be up, dressed and have eaten breakfast by 9am, then the children have lessons followed by lunch. Afternoons are more flexible and we don’t always stick to the timetable rigidly, but it’s there as a guide.
My husband and I try and allocate half a day each to childcare and the other half to working then we both catch up in the evenings when the children are in bed.
It doesn’t always work and there have been times when we’ve battled for control of the study or conference calls have clashed. Yes, there have been days when the electronic babysitter (the TV, Nintendo Switch or YouTube) have done more childcare than the two of us put together but largely speaking, we’ve muddled through.
The children have walked in on zoom calls with clients and colleagues and yes, the youngest has had melt downs and thrown tantrums whilst I’ve been on the phone but so have the children of some of the people I’ve been speaking to and absolutely nobody has batted an eyelid. Yes, the house is a mess most of the time (somethings have to give) and the whole family has been forced to eat my terrible cooking, but we have found a new sense of normality that works for us.
I’ve enjoyed teaching and spending more time with the children. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming to be able to replace the wonderful teachers who do an amazing and much better job than I ever could do (as my daughter has, on numerous occasions, reminded me), but this experience has been a welcome break from what I now realise had become a rut of routine and rushing around, whether it be swimming or tennis lessons, brownies or birthday parties or work events. Lock down and my new roles have definitely made me take a step back and appreciate the time we have together as a family even more and I’m appreciating the flexibility that lockdown has brought to my routine and working patterns. Of course, it helps to have an understanding and supportive employer.
I suspect that lessons will be learnt in terms of how, when and where we work in the future and not just out of necessity for social distancing measures. There is scope for both employees and employers, clients and customers to benefit. Hours can be saved each day for example by cutting out commutes, by working from home and staggering working hours to avoid the dreaded “rush hour”. More meetings can be held by video link, cutting out travel time and expense and overheads can be reduced if less physical office space is needed. With more irregular working patterns, it will become possible for clients to access our services outside their own working day.
So as the light (hopefully) appears at the end of the tunnel, I’m chalking this lockdown period up as mostly a win. Have I become a Lockdown Super-mum?
I’ll settle for Super-mum(ish).