Before the coronavirus, I shall call it BC, freelancing whilst being a parent meant cramming my copywriting into the hours that my two daughters were at school & preschool and occasional evenings after they’d gone to bed. It involved discipline and scheduling, but I used to enjoy the balance between looking after my lovely girls and taking a bit of time for myself, doing work that I really enjoy. Now that we are firmly in the wreckage of the pandemic, in some sort of never-ending lockdown limbo I, and parents like me across the world, have had to learn multitasking skills equal only to the crack team of speed jugglers at the Cirque du Soleil.
As we enter the 4th week of the Summer holidays, and the 24th week since the juggling began, I now think nothing of simultaneously writing an article on branding at the same time as building a DUPLO pyramid and facilitating a Zoom catch up with my daughter’s primary school class. My husband regularly holds virtual meetings with board members in our living room, whilst our daughters squabble over who had the farmer playmobile man first, and maraud around the house on a perpetual Harry Potter book/iPad charger/Pom-Bear packet/Elsa dress cape/Rainbows camping badge hunt in the background.
Never has working from home been more necessary and yet more incredibly difficult. BC, working from home was seen as the easy option, something that people used to annunciate and then wink at you about, as if instead of sitting on your sofa at your laptop, you were in fact skipping the light fandango all over town! Now parents working from home, share stories of meltdowns in the middle of important phone calls, park trips instead of coffee trips and a new-found respect for teachers, teaching assistants and dinner ladies, hell even the class hamster has our admiration.
But humans are adaptable, and we have to count ourselves very lucky to still have a job in these crazy times. Another bright side is that my children now have a much greater understanding of what we, as their parents, actually do to pay for all the Harry Potter books/iPad chargers/Pom-Bear packets/Elsa dress capes and Rainbows camping badges that they keep losing. And for the days when it is utterly impossible to tap into my own thoughts in order to write a cohesive sentence, I have learnt that the secret to executing the perfect juggling routine is to use my hard-won earnings to invest in noise cancelling ear plugs. So, to all my fellow jugglers out there, all I can say is ear plugs are the new toilet roll, you are not alone, and it may, or may not get easier.