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Juggling home schooling and my full-time job

First-hand account from Gemma Murphy, Director and Founder of ViewHR…

Quite simply, the only word that seems to sensibly sum up this home schooling/working situation that my husband and I find ourselves in is “nightmare”. It has honestly had me on my knees in tears, working round the clock and not knowing where to go next. What is worse, we seem to have found ourselves trapped in this reoccurring groundhog nightmare for some time. Let’s face it, April end date may be optimistic (well that’s what I am mentally preparing for!)… 

We are both full-time working professionals balancing busy careers and our boys aged 6 and 8. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done and that’s even after an investment bank graduate scheme (you can imagine the hours!). Quite frankly, most of the time they are feral and learning to make themselves lunch (scrambled egg is the latest home economics achievement!) while we juggle Zoom calls and work demands.  

The truth is, we have had to make a choice, our children’s’ now demanding school work schedule or keeping our jobs or all getting out of this in one piece. We have had to find a compromise by doing it our way to keep us employed, financially stable (as we will get out of this and I would like a house post-COVID), both mentally sane and most importantly our boys happy! So, we’re doing it our way (I can feel people frown as I write this…): 

  • We’re kicking the trend of Zoom school classes – seriously a 6 and 8 year old can’t do this unsupervised while we work. We are doing what works for our family. 
  • One of us teaches the boys from 7am to 9:30am, the other takes a teaching slot from 11am to 1pm etc. and the rest of the time we supervise as best we can (there is no helicopter parenting in our house)! 
  • We are getting the kids out every day in the forest for a long walk, both for our sanity and also because two boys running around the house not exercised is no fun for furniture or patience. 
  • The work to-do list prioritisation: clients and team come first (plus HMRC!), then the non-essential work has to be classed into urgent, next week, bin, etc. – house to-do list has gone in the bin. 
  • Switching off on an evening and some of the weekend. I give myself times when I do not work, so I may work late 3 or 4 nights to catch up but when I’m not working the phone is in the basket and emails are off. I need to recharge to be any good at anything. 
  • Time to myself – this is rare but so important even if 2 slots a week walking with a friend. 
  • Let’s be honest we have all been drinking far too much during lockdown(s), my hand is well and truly up. So I am trying so hard now in 2021 to have a few dry days a week (I like Brew Dog Nanny state when I’m craving alcohol on a dry day!). I hate to admit it but a few dry days are making me feel better but also I’m losing a little weight (yay!). 
  • A new one this week, we are giving the boys an extra day off school work to simply play (no, not just at the weekend!). Oh my goodness, they are so much nicer and being creative through play! 
  • Getting vitamin-D from daylight when we can, there is no daylight when the working day finishes so getting out has to be juggled in the day then working later or earlier! 
  • Remind yourself that you are not a teacher! 

There is no doubt this lockdown is so much harder than last time. The expectations on children through the school is far, far harder so placing more pressure on all parents, in lockdown 1 you thought you were winning when your child read to you, now my boys school work makes me feel like a constant failure! The days are shorter and colder, you can’t always just open the back door and throw them outside or go for a walk to escape the children and husband. The days don’t feel like they have structure, because of the light and the fact they don’t. But when I’m in tears or frustrated, I must remember it is so much worse for so many others, we did it before, we can do it again, and it will end! 

This is my opinion only, our way of surviving and is certainly not a recommendation! 

Due to popular demand, we have decided to run a series of mental health and wellbeing coffee sessions. These sessions are an opportunity to learn, share and develop your skillset around all things wellbeing and mental health. We kick-start our first mental health session ‘Time to Talk’ by discussing how HR methodologies can support a pro-active conversation around the subject of mental health and what strategies and actions can be put in place to best support our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of our colleague’s too. Join us on Friday 5th February at 10am to share best practices and have your questions answered. It’s free for all to attend. Sign up today to reserve your place here.