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The lockdown work appreciation society.

The lockdown’s impact on the pace of life has allowed us all to do a lot more reflection on work and family life so I thought I’d share something that I’ve found really interesting with my own family.

Over the past few weeks we’ve discovered a newfound appreciation of what everyone else does during the day now. As a family of five (three children aged 10, 13 and 16) we took for granted that we knew what everyone was up to and how their day had gone without ever really taking the time to put ourselves in each other’s shoes. This is probably best illustrated by my 13 year old daughter who complained about being on school Microsoft Teams video calls all morning and was hungry and tired by lunchtime (welcome to my world!). She mentioned that she now appreciates everyone’s working during the day too and that having space to concentrate and not be disturbed has been so important. I have no doubt she’ll never burst in on my video call with a client again, fighting with her brother, now she knows what it’s like to be on one!

My husband now realises that my youngest son’s teacher has the patience of a saint. My son’s day consists of “school work and Fortnite” he said that he now knows that Daddy codes, I’m on video calls all day, his sister does a lot of art and cooks stuff and his brother is on his phone, always! My eldest son, Milo Dickens, does not deny he’s on his phone all day but insists he runs his businesses from it. He mentions that having everyone in the house all day everyday is very distracting and he likes to sometimes “scrape in on Mum whilst she’s working so I get that ‘work atmosphere’ I need to get stuff done.” He even admits that he can see his father successfully balances a lot – tech work, household and garden projects, homeschooling and ‘the big shop’ every week. Took me a while to get that one out of him I can tell you.

As for Matt Dickens, he’s mentioned being completely baffled by how much food the children can consume in one day and how, given the chance, none of them would shower or change out of their pyjamas! Home school and work, he says, is difficult and he finds it tricky to switch between the two. I asked him what it’s like having me around 24/7 and he’s pleasantly surprised that we haven’t murdered each other yet stating that shared tea making responsibilities has been a bonus. Although he’s none too pleased that I’ve requisitioned his two large screens, including his 4k monitor!

And after nearly 30 years of being together I finally know what my husband does, he’s not just a techy but an uber techy able to work backend and frontend, a true data solutions architect. We’ve even discovered that we can work together. He helped me successfully scope a new product feature for one of the ventures I’m working with. I’ve also realised that whilst I think my 16 year old son is on his phone 24/7 he’s actually built himself a marketplace (new brand launches end of this week) and had to do quite a bit of coding to get it right. As well as that, he’s pushing out a social media campaign. I realise that you can run an empire from a smartphone when you’re 16!

As for homeschooling, I’ve dabbled here and there with my husband and sister (virtually) mainly supervising my youngest son. I’ve been surprised by how well he can focus (when he wants to!) and I honestly thought maths was his favourite subject but he’s absolutely loved doing creative writing with us. And I’ve been pretty impressed with my teenage daughter’s attitude to learning in lockdown, even doing some school work during the holidays and weekends as she’s enjoying the research on the topics she’s studying. There’s certainly a place for blended learning in the future. I know she really misses working in class with her friends but concentrating by herself has been a skill she’s now honed. This will be so important when it comes to revision as it mimics study leave.

I can tell you it’s not been all plain sailing, some days are harder than others, we’ve just had to roll with it, but hopefully this self and family reflection on life over the past few weeks might encourage others to reflect on what their loved ones are up to during the day, and how this new found appreciation might change family life for the better once we’re out of lockdown.