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Blog – lessons learned from a week at home

31.03.2020

So, how’s your first week at home been? What have you discovered about yourself? What will you keep doing and what will you definitely never try again? And is it possible to squeeze in any more online meetings in a day??

It’s fair to say that nobody has experienced such a period of constant, seismic change in such a short period of time. What started as a news story happening in a country far away suddenly appeared on our doorstep. And whilst we have followed as the story unfolded, we have been taken by surprise at the speed of the changes and the implications it has meant for life as we knew it.

First we were told to work at home where possible. For many this was a novelty and something they’ve been wanting to try for a while. The move towards agile, flexible working has been building for some time – for environmental, mental health and practical reasons. This was a chance to test it out! For a day it worked a treat; it even felt a bit rebellious, then reality set in – what about all the now ‘crucial’ documents left in the office? When were we going to catch up on the latest news with our colleagues?

Then we heard that schools might close and that felt like a pretty major step. What would it mean for our new home set-up? The run-up to that Friday, with teachers preparing parents to access various online classrooms, the news that GCSE’s and A Levels were being cancelled, and a new reality of ‘home-schooling’ a whole generation of children looming, felt like a weird dream.

The possibility of a lockdown became reality at the beginning of the week when the Prime Minister addressed the nation. We now had rules to follow and had to stay away from each other. We had to stay at home and the children weren’t going to school. In one evening, what had felt like a film script became our new reality.

So, what has the week been like? For me and many of my friends, we’ve started the week with good intentions and are trying to stay positive – we’ve kept to the normal morning routine, daytime timetables have been planned for the children, Joe Wicks is now part of our mornings (sadly only via YouTube), work is being crammed in to scheduled ‘quiet time’ or done in the evenings and the freezer is full. There have been a whole host of positives to come out of the last week’s uncertainty. The kids have adapted well to Mum/Dad as teacher, the sun’s been shining so those lucky enough to have gardens have had extended ‘playtime’, and neighbours have rallied round to support each other.
I’ve never had so many meetings online – Zoom, GoToMeetings, WhatsApp video, Skype – with varying degrees of success. I wonder if we’ll ever go back to traditional meetings where we all sit around a conference room table with piles of papers… I’m not sure I’ll miss them if we don’t. And maybe we shouldn’t…. Some days have been more productive than others, some hours have been longer than others, and I’m not great with this no-contact malarkey.
However, I’m loving this unexpected time with the kids and my husband, and I’m getting outside much more than I normally would. It’s fascinating seeing how most of the population are responding to this strange situation – we’re connecting in different ways with one another because we’re not taking each other for granted, we’re not randomly consuming throw-away fashion and cheap food because it’s not available, we’re being creative about our leisure time and appreciating each other so much more.

 

My learnings from this first week have been:
1. Have some sort of plan for the day – kids like a routine, and so do we. It pays to spend 20 minutes the night before coming up with ideas and an order in which to do them to save your head from exploding first thing.
2. Don’t set expectations too high around how much you will do – we’re all finding our way through this together so cut yourself, and them, some slack. Stressed parents don’t achieve much and stressed kids are VERY NOISY.
3. Stop checking the news – it fuels anxiety if you’re constantly expecting another bombshell.
4. Get outside (as long as you stay away from everyone) – being in nature really does make you feel better, even if that’s standing at an open window and breathing in some fresh air

The week drew to a close with an 8pm Clap for Carers to show support for the amazing work being done in the NHS. I stood on the pavement outside my house and listened to clapping, cheering, saucepans banging and fireworks. It brought a tear to my eye – look how much better we are when we pull together.

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