Diary of a home working parent

F or many of us at Fourth Day, this is the first time we've had to work from home for such an extended period. We don't yet know when the lockdown will end and we'll be back to normal - so for the time being, it'll be lots of video conferencing with pets and children in the background. We asked our working parents how they've found striking the balance between keeping the kids happy and focusing on work.

Lee Simpson, content and client account manager
I’ve worked from home before so am used to the idea of bouncing a baby on one knee while balancing a laptop on the other. But this current ‘situation’ is entirely different. I’m now teaching phonics (whatever they are), split digraphs (whatever they are) and maths (whatever that is) to my five-year-old son. And as I speak my wife is leading an impromptu glockenspiel lesson in the back garden, so even when I’m not being teacher it’s difficult to escape.

We’re attempting to stick to as strict a routine as possible, starting the day, like everyone else, with Joe Wicks (although what happens when he gets coronavirus? We’re all counting on you Joe) followed by reading, writing, some jumping on the trampoline and eating a lot of oat cakes and M&M’s. All while attempting to Slack and email, which is surprisingly easy to do, actually. This morning I “listened” to an entire book being read by my son while arranging an interview with a client. MULTI-TASKING.

I’m trying to keep relaxed about it all. In usual circumstances the thought of having my kids join a conference call with colleagues would be unthinkable, but now it seems unavoidable. It’s a cliché, but it’s important to remember that everyone is in the same boat at the minute and whereas it’s far from ideal, it could be a lot worse.

Nikki Scrivener, Manchester director
Only 4 days in and the violin’s out again. I’ve spent a year nagging my youngest about practice. So it’s a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’. I’ve now resorted to asking for it to be played facing outwards into the garden. While obviously dishing out lots of praise. Everyone knows how easily distracted I am at the best of times. But every day’s a school day for me at the mo. Alongside trying desperately to keep up with work, I’ve been reacquainting myself with fractions and the Mayans and using lots of vinegar for science experiments. I honestly don’t know how teachers keep 10-year-olds occupied all day, let alone two moping teenagers on top of that, without a constant stream of snacks, Netflix and a trampoline.

Antoine Billon, Paris director
Since Monday 16 March, the whole family has been confined to the house. Like all parents with young children, we have had to organise our daily life to combine the boys’ days (activities, games, …) and the parents’ distance working. I confess to being in a very privileged position because my wife is a nursery school teacher! I must say that I admire her creativity in keeping the children occupied every day. A couple of examples of the games she has made from nothing:

Katharina Wolf, junior account manager
We’re only a couple of weeks into our new routine so that might be the reason why I’m actually feeling quite zen about this new normal. I’m fully aware that if this continues for a few months, I might just change (lose) my mind. There are moments when tending to my toddler while working requires great multi-tasking skills, especially when both parents are on a conference call at the same time (hello TV, old babysitting-friend.) But we are all in this together and no one really bats an eyelid about a child singing Old McDonald enthusiastically in the background. Staying flexible, masterfully ignoring and circumventing 500 plastic animals currently living in the kitchen, acceptance of the situation/lack of control, and reminding yourself that the good enough parent is the best parent are great strategies for getting through the day.

Caroline Fletcher, junior account manager
Attempting home schooling has been quite a baptism of fire. However, we’ve already fallen into a pattern of sorts. The day starts with exercise – P.E. with Joe Wicks, we then alternate between a lesson, online learning and ‘free time’. It’s enjoyable being able to have lunch together – daily rations as my son likes to call it – and feels quite continental sitting outside as the weather warms up. However, the real challenge has been keeping the children interested and stimulated while trying to work!  Connecting the kids on Zoom to socialise with their friends has helped to ease their boredom and frees up time for the grown-ups. It’s a long road ahead!

Why don’t you share with us your stories of homeschooling during lockdown on Twitter?

The author

Danny is a Junior Account Manager in the Manchester office

More about Danny