What happens when your family comes first but you also can’t let your career take a back seat? A challenge I’m resolved to tackle head on!
I have always been ambitious, committed to my career and never one to give up on a challenge. And I have always wanted a family. Even in today’s society, marrying children with a career doesn’t come easily; children inevitably change your life, your priorities, your goals. However I’ve never had any intention of letting that stand in my way.
18 months before COVID-19, lockdown and social-distancing were words we even understood, I took the plunge to become a full-time business owner and in the infamous words of Will Smith “my life got flipped turned upside down”! Teaming building and running a business from the ground up with raising two young children has been no mean feat. However, with the support of my husband and family, and the ability to take control of my work/life balance, I have ensured that I retain the flexibility to do the school run, enjoy Christmas nativities and take part in the mums run during sports day all whilst ploughing energy into growing edge. Thankfully I love what I do, but inevitably long days (and often long nights in my case) have been pretty exhausting!
Then the world quite literally came crumbling down – COVID-19 happened! Along with many others, suddenly all of our business growth was teetering on the edge of a cliff.To say that I battled a rollercoaster of emotions in those first few weeks is an understatement. Determined to ensure that the business makes it through these unprecedented times, once again long days and long nights ensued, difficult decisions were having to be made and in amongst all this, I had my family, particularly my two kids to consider. It’s easy to forget that in these unprecedented times, life is scary and confusing for them too.
If that wasn’t enough, like many of you, I also had to become a teacher overnight! The prospect of home-schooling and entertaining the kids in a household with both parents working ‘9-5’ seemed like an impossibility. Despite the constant reiteration from school, friends and family of “don’t stress about home-schooling, just have fun, do what you can and cherish this moment”, I’ve done nothing but stress! Echoing Hannah’s constant battle with being a perfectionist and being a bit (read a lot!) of a control freak, this was yet another challenge that I could not give up on, especially as my kids are ultimately THE most important thing in my life. It goes against everything I believe in not to throw myself into a situation 100% – clearly that teamed with the continued pressures of work wasn’t and hasn’t been easy.
Hats off to all those teachers out there – if lockdown has taught me anything it’s that I definitely DO NOT want to be a teacher! It felt like planning what to teach my kids became a full-time job in itself (note that this is coming from someone who loves planning everything!). Intent on making sure that I was covering all angles from English and Maths to Science, Geography and History, whilst syphoning through the millions of resources that are available online has been nothing short of overwhelming. And although I am quite creative, thinking of imaginative ideas and ways of learning to keep them entertained added another dimension of complexity. We’ve engaged in more traditional reading and writing exercises, maths sums and PowerPoints about plant growth, rock formations and The Great Fire of London. To mix things up we’ve made a city out of household recycled items, cracked mathematical codes to release sweets and drawn life size people to locate our organs.
Thankfully Oscar (6) and Emily (4) have taken to home-schooling relatively well and are fairly amenable to the tasks set, but tailoring activities that suit their differing abilities is hard. As anyone with young kids can no doubt sympathise, their attentions spans are VERY short, which means you’re constantly kept on your toes to change things up, resulting in little peace and time to focus on other things at hand let alone actual work. And don’t get me started on the incessant bickering, whinging and countless snacks that they require every 5 minutes!!
Spending time with the kids is, for the most part, amazing and these are truly times that will no doubt foster even greater bonds between us all, but having them around 24-7 is relentless – you can definitely have too much of a good thing! A consequence of the lockdown rules is such that I am sometimes forced to make selfish decisions – for my once daily exercise (aka ‘Get out of Jail’ card) do I:
a) go for a run ON MY OWN; or
b) go for a family walk?
No prizes for what often wins! I’ve come to realise even more that 30 minutes of ‘me time’ is crucial. It’s important to remember that our own physical health and mental wellbeing is equally important as that of our kids.
Now 6 weeks in and under the current circumstances, I think we’ve adjusted fairly well and fallen into a groove that is just about working. Admittedly there are times when I have very little patience, and sometimes my heart and head aren’t in it, so thank god for iPads for those moments and days when things don’t go to plan! It should also be said that the support from others, particularly my ‘mum’ friends, is invaluable. What struggles can’t be melted away with a good old chinwag and a glass (or two…or three!) of wine?! After all, we are all #inthistogether.
On that note, let’s not forget that we are all going through individual struggles during this difficult time but reflect on this…..
“You think $h!t’s bad now….in 20 years’ time the country is going to be run by kids who were homeschooled by alcoholics!”