Still juggling, in a whole new circus…

Yep, lockdown is still with us. It’s been 100+ days since I was last in my office. Oh my office, where I could sip hot tea – that someone ELSE has made for me; have client calls in peace, chit chat to colleagues; read complete articles in newspapers; go out for coffee and just generally be an independent working adult.

No, it wasn’t always easy, I’d always arrive rushed after a drop off and cramming myself onto a tram, only to arrive 12mins late (always). Then by 430, I’d constantly be watching the clock in hope that nothing last minute happened before I have to rush out again at 5. And then the daily squeeze onto another tram and a sweaty run to collect Boy2 from a childminder. I don’t miss that.

But the current situation is strange. Yes, I’m at home which is great, but I’m also having to juggle in a whole new way. Working whilst trying to homeschool a Yr 7 with multiple subjects, and entertaining a 5yr old is hard, and there are two adults here!

I’ve mentioned my juggling analogy to ‘work life balance‘ before and these past couple of months have not only increased the balls, but they feel so much heavier, I’m having to find a new approach to juggling them.

  • The work ball – a daily 9am call, usually interrupted by a child who doesn’t want to eat the crust on his toast or one who can’t find his pencil case (again). Then trying to get through the day and meet deadlines, manage teams and hope I’m not interrupted on other calls throughout the day.
  • The first homeschool ball – checking the daily schedule to know which lessons are on today, which one Boy1 needs help with, which ones are videos, which ones require homework, which ones I may need to Google at some point in the day to refresh my memory (as if I remember year 7 history!). The list goes on
  • The second homeschool ball – realising that Reception kids just play. All. Day. They play alone, but they play with each other. They like to show their peers and their teachers what they have achieved. Not very convenient when I’ve got the aforementioned work ball to deal with. I worry he’ll become mute by the end of the summer, given the amount of time I spend shushing him. The TV levels are insane – I’m sure he’s nearly completed Disney+ (does that count as an achievement?!)
  • The food ball – a new expanded edition. We’ve gone from most of us having breakfast out of the house, to all four of us having all three meals at home. Every. Single. Day. That means more shopping, more cooking, more thinking about what the hell to eat! And sadly, we can’t just rely on freezer tapas every day.
  • The cleaning ball – with everyone being at home, the house needs cleaning. Every. Single. Day. I’m sick of hoovering, sweeping, wiping all the time.
  • The child fitness ball – No extra curricular activities. No PE at school. We are now responsible for their fitness and making sure they actually move regularly. PE with Joe Wicks was fun for the first few weeks and a bit of Cosmic Kids for Boy2, but then it became something else for me to remember. So a daily walk/cycle to the local park and a bit of a run around has to do. I say daily, its kind of become twice a week. Don’t judge me, we’ve been stuck here for THREE MONTHS
  • The me ball – OK the salons and spas are still closed and I look dodgy, but I’ve been trying to exercise daily early in the morning to offset the fact I’m not able to do the manic journeys I miss. I hadn’t realised how much energy you can burn through stress of missing a 6pm pick up. I do it nice and early before the onslaught of kids and work and so far its working (kinda)
  • The marriage ball – oh yeah I remembered its name! Don’t think there’s much to report there, only that we haven’t killed each other, yet.
  • The sanity ball – where to begin?

I’ve become increasingly concerned about my children’s mental health lately. There have been plenty articles about the impact of this pandemic on young people and I have to say its one of my biggest worries.

How can we ensure that children aren’t just glued to screens all day whilst parents are working. How do we encourage them to have real conversations with their friends. How do we keep them informed about developments without scaring them or getting their hopes up only to be dashed (like the return to school debacle)? How do we support them and help to build a sense of confidence and positivity around what feels like such a negative moment in time?

How will it impact their confidence once things start to ‘ease’? How will it impact their ability to build and maintain friendships and relationships? How will all of this impact their academic ability in the future? Society is already going to hold my black sons back, will Coronavirus do it too?

Soooo many questions. So few answers.

We’ve even succumbed to letting Boy1 have WhatsApp in a bid to encourage more regular communication with his school friends. I don’t even know if its made a difference!

This ‘ball’ seems so big yet I often feel like its never really in my hand for long enough, because some of the others need attention immediately. But as time passes us by, the ball will undoubtedly get bigger and heavier. It will be more difficult to deal with.

I don’t have the answers, only the questions. I’d love to know what other parents are doing. Until then, I’ll just have to keep watching, listening, talking and hoping. Hoping for the best.

This strange period will come to an end, but we have to do everything we can to make sure any negative impact on our families comes to an end too.


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