Voices

My struggle with WFH

Tania Feeley, Managing Partner at RAPP LONDON writes revealingly about how lockdown, and enforced WFH, has led her to confront her workaholic tendencies.

Tania Feeley, RAPP LONDON

Managing Partner

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I’ve tried a few things to find my equilibrium in this bizarre time. Last week I had an epiphany. Working from home has never worked for me. Not in my twenties and not in my forties. I realise now that this is because I’m a workaholic. I don’t claim that as a humble brag, I’m ashamed of my behaviour and the effect on my family.

COVID-19 has been incredibly confronting for me. Realising that even if I take annual leave to spend time with my children who desperately need it, I don’t actually do it; the lure of work is irresistible. I dream about it at night. It’s the first thing I think of as I wake. And I feel an uncomfortable pit in my stomach when I have something left undone.

Now I’m at home all the time, there is no escaping it, for me or my family. They are forever asking me what’s wrong when they notice a familiar yet faraway look on my face. It’s because I’m not there. I’m in my head and I’m thinking about work.

With both me and my husband working full time, life pre COVID-19 meant sending my children off to nursery and school with our nanny sorting out the details in their lives, their schoolwork and their dinners. But now they are reliant on me and this lockdown has made me realise the impact that my work and my addiction to it has on them.

Whilst I’ve hated working from home, it’s been the catalyst to face the most destructive part of me.

Tania Feeley

A day in my life currently starts with a daily 8.45am call and then for the rest of the day I am back to back, jumping between WebEx, Teams and Zoom every day with very little time between meetings until around 6.30pm. My husband, who also works full time, makes all our meals and pretty much singlehandedly keeps the house in check. So, he’s not happy either. I’m unavailable for everyone in my household. Including the dog.

Every week since lockdown I think I’ll do better. I’ll take a day off and that will make it better. Help my 10-year-old with her schoolwork. But she prevaricates and I lose patience and quite frankly it is easier to work.

The 4-year-old suffers the most. She’s pretty much been left to her own devices. When I try to spend time and teach her anything, she refuses. Her development seems to have gone backwards. But really, she’s lonely and sad and seeking attention.

I haven’t really ever struggled with mum guilt. I’ve got a brilliant nanny who has filled in for me and we all seemed content with my presence in the evenings and weekends. Now we’re locked down I can’t do that. And I must admit I don’t like what I’m left with. It’s too confronting and uncomfortable.

So, this week with my new realisation of myself I’m trying a new tact.

I’m taking two hours off a day to spend with the kids. I won’t lie. It is hard. My stomach has a pit in it during the two hours as I avoid picking up my phone or laptop. But I do feel like a better mum.

So, whilst I’ve hated working from home, it’s been the catalyst to face the most destructive part of me; it is also requiring a huge behaviour change.

Lockdown might just have done me and my family a favour, no matter how hard I’ve found it.

Guest Author

Tania Feeley, RAPP LONDON

Managing Partner,

About

With over 20 years in marketing with a specialism in developing customer experiences for clients, Tania has a curiosity about new marketing approaches which underpins her passion for marketing. Her sector experience traverses telcos, travel, charity and financial services. She currently leads several accounts at RAPP and is married to a very patient husband with two daughters and a Labrador called Milo.