A Dad in Lockdown
Sam Allen, Head of Marketing, W2W
In March, many people’s regular work routine changed due to the need to furlough, self-isolate and or work from home. When this all began, I shared tips and tactics I’ve found helpful when working from home. Now, as some people are transitioning back to their new normal, I wanted to share my experience of working from home with the added twist of being a Dad in Lockdown.
In 2018, I decided to become freelance and work remotely, as I was searching for a more flexible working life, a life with balance. I wanted to have more time to spend with my young family and to help my wife carve out space to keep her identity and her business after becoming a mum. Rightly or wrongly, I’m grateful that the current circumstances, as tough as they are, have given me more time with them. Many of my friends that are also parents have agreed that being in Lockdown with young children can be incredibly fun but is also quite hard work. Sleepless nights and toddler tantrums aren’t easy to deal with at the best of times, but when that all happens without a pressure release, it can be harder still. It has been easier since the easing of Lockdown rules have meant we could go out more than once a day. I know that my little girl misses seeing her friends and I miss how tired she’d be after seeing them.
One thing that has made it easier is talking/venting to friends about the difficulties of parenting on Facetime. Being open and honest with friends about how hard it’s been is something we’re going to do more of from now on.
Should I be doing more?
I imagine that we’ll all be following people on social media that will have made great use of their lockdown time to; learn mandarin, perfect their banana bread recipe and train for a socially distanced marathon before breakfast. That isn’t necessarily what’s happening for all of us, and it’s certainly not happening for me – And, do you know what, that’s ok.
Here comes a toddler
We’ve all seen that BBC News interview when Professor Robert Kelly’s kids barge in and the working Dad tries to act as though nothing was happening. I wasn’t on National TV, but I’ve had an opportunistic toddler show up a few times on Zoom calls. I’m rather lucky that the people I work with are very understanding of my situation. I don’t hide the fact I have children, if I hear noise approaching, I’ll issue a notice that there is a toddler present and you’ll soon hear a “hello, what ya doing?!”
I feel that people are more empathetic during these times. People are more patient when technology doesn’t work as it should, people understand that working in the same place that you live isn’t easy and that when caring for little people, that things change and priorities and or deadlines shift.
This article for Mental Health Awareness Week talked about how each day we should try to; Show one kindness to yourself and Show one kindness to others. I’ve been trying to make time to do this in my daily routine since Lockdown began.
When talking about kindness to myself, I want to give a bit of context. I’ve had a gym membership for some time now, and even before the kids arrived, I was hardly using it but paying every month (I know I’m not alone). I was struggling to find time for exercise, especially when you had to factor in travel to and from as well ( I know, I know, a poor excuse). I decided to cancel my membership and reallocate my direct debit into a rowing machine. The daily 25 minutes of exercise I now do, is a lot easier to do as I’m still in the house and am there for the family should they need me. I’ve found that my 5-month-old son finds the white noise of the belt fan so relaxing he falls asleep – Win! I know not everyone likes to row, but Joe Wicks has taught us that you don’t need to go to the gym to exercise. My morning row has helped me keep fit and start the work/parenting day right.
My kindness to others differs from day to day but will usually focus on my immediate family. For example, I’ll take the kids if my wife looks like she needs some extra time to herself or sit quietly with my daughter to help her express why she is upset when mid-tantrum. Just trying to think of others and how they’re feeling is important.
The summer of 2020
I hope that my children will remember the summer of 2020 as that time when Dad was able to have water fights at lunch, make dens in the garden and eat a biscuit with them in the afternoon. Personally, if the current situation can allow me the opportunity to steal little moments like that cup of tea with my daughter in her den while having a short break from my work, then there could be a silver lining to this Covid-19 cloud hanging over us.
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