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NABS working parents on how they're dealing with life under lockdown

As parents across adland try to get to grips with home-schooling while hitting deadlines, NABS’s working parents share their challenges and top tips for getting through the next few months.

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If working parents had it tough before the coronavirus, the pandemic has taken things to a whole new level. As mums and dads across adland try to get to grips with home-schooling while hitting deadlines, NABS’s working parents share their challenges and top tips for getting through the next few months. 

Terri Bailey, Director of Culture Change & Wellbeing Services

Two sons aged 14 & 10 

The juggling act is definitely a work in progress. I’m jumping on team calls and doing my work while ensuring the boys do their schoolwork. The boys are much chattier than usual too. I’d devised a schedule for them, but I ripped that up on day one! As they’re older, the boys can have the responsibility of choosing when they’re going to work. 

I make sure I get up every day to meditate. It makes such a difference to how my day goes. My biggest tip is, go with the flow. Don’t try to be the perfect parent and choose your wars. I make sure I listen to my kids and encourage them to keep in touch with their friends. That’s important for everybody, not just kids. 

This situation is so different from anything our kids have experience before, so they might be anxious as well as more challenging. Let them choose as many things as they can, whether that’s exercise or activities, to give them back some of the control they may have lost. 

Let [children] choose as many things as they can, whether that’s exercise or activities, to give them back some of the control they may have lost.

Terri Bailey

Nicky Harris, Director of Strategy & Development

One son, 5 & one daughter, 2

My husband and I have a work/home life collision right now, video conferences with the kids around, country walks as a family while on a work call. It's a bit of a mess but we're having to merge the lot and hope for the best! Having such an understanding boss and team is helpful and reassuring. 

We're sharing the load by doing two hours on, two hours off, when diaries don't clash, so that each of us has some focused work time. However, when I'm with the kids, work naturally creeps in, which is a struggle and frustrating for everyone. Working at night helps, especially when it's with a glass of wine, but it's pretty exhausting. We need to get stricter about taking some nights off. 

This situation has thrown everyone. As a parent, you can't possibly make this work perfectly. There just aren't enough hours in the day. Go easy on yourself. Accept that being just OK at work and childcare has got to be enough at the moment. 

Watching the hundreds of funny videos doing the rounds at the moment is helping, as is not worrying about cleaning and tidying. There's no point and it's one less job to do. 

For me, helping the kids to feel calm during this crisis is massively important. I want them to remember this as a happy time with their parents. At least, that's my goal at 7am. By 2pm I'm googling where to buy sedation darts. 

Louise Scodie, Senior PR & Communications Manager

One daughter aged 2  

There’s a reason why childcare was invented. My little girl is a livewire and managing her and my workload is a challenge at best. My days fly by in a haze and by the weekend I’m fried. 

If I’m working, Amber wants to be involved. I can’t send an email without her asking to “watch Frozen on Mummy’s computer”. Often, I just have to be present with Amber and do activities with her, jigsaws, baking and discussing Frozen, and deal with my work at another point. When deadlines fire at me, my friend CBeebies comes to the rescue.  

Exercise is my saviour, my oxygen and my non-negotiable. Even then, I have to get up super early to work out; 5:45am press-ups, anybody? I respond to emails over breakfast while Amber plays and do ‘concentration’ work such as writing in the early evening when her Dad can watch her.  

Schedules don’t work for us. Last week, Amber fell asleep on me at 3:30pm for an hour. I used the time to write an article. I couldn’t feel my left arm due to Amber’s weight but at least I could get the job done in peace. 

My top tips? Accept what you can’t change, exercise with Joe Wicks and nap at the weekends. 

My top tips? Accept what you can’t change, exercise with Joe Wicks and nap at the weekends.

Louise Scodie

Katrina Urban, Services Project Manager

One son aged 12 & a baby due in 10 weeks 

My biggest challenge is supporting my son to do the very large amount of work set by school, despite his sassy attitude saying otherwise, while working from home five days a week.  

I've taken one day carer’s leave for every week that doesn't have a bank holiday for my own wellbeing and also to dedicate a full day to supporting Josh. I'm not putting pressure on either of us to have his work completed immediately. School has set huge amounts of work via their website and homework app. We have to accept that it just won't all be finished unless I stop working.  

It helps to create separate spaces in the house for us; we’re not used to being in each other’s pockets all day every day. For work, stick to your start and finish times to keep your routines and boundaries; don’t feel as though you have to respond to weekend emails. Stay calm and accept that you can’t be a full-time teacher and do your job and that’s OK. Finally, take time out to ease anxiety, whether that’s sitting in the garden for half an hour or my favourite thing, cuddling a cat. I have three lap dwellers and they’re great at making me feel calmer.  

Steve Rowe, Lead Senior Support Advisor

One daughter aged two & a baby due in May  

It’s difficult feeling like I’m not contributing as much to work as I’d like to at such a busy time for us. The transition between work and jumping immediately into childcare, and vice versa, is another challenge, as is keeping my daughter Ruby away from my wife Laura when it’s her time to work. 

We had holiday booked for last week. The holiday was postponed, but we still took the time off work. It was useful to only have to focus on childcare and home life for a few days, although we both tidied up a few work loose ends at the start of the holiday for peace of mind. 

We started off by doing short stings of work and then childcare; an hour or two and then swapping. We’re now trialling longer shifts, mornings/afternoons, which seem to work better, for now. I’ll work some nights, but not every night. 

Exercise is my great decompressor. It’s how I maintain my wellbeing. Smash those HIIT workouts, they keep you sane. 

Life right now is so hard and full-on but it’s really cool to spend so much time with Ruby. I keep reminding myself that this won't last forever. It'll be a rad story in years to come; "how we survived coronavirus with a toddler". It'll be like people reminiscing about the great storm in 1987. 

 

NABS is here to support working parents across the industry. Email our friendly Advice Line for a call back at your convenience on support@nabs.org.uk and check out NABS’ guide for working parents here. 

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NABS is the support organisation for the advertising and media industry, providing services that help people to thrive at work including its Advice Line and career coaching. To find out how NABS can help you during the pandemic and beyond visit www.nabs.org.uk