WFH w/ Kids

BY Kai Nicol-SchwarzJune 22, 2020

Some of the challenges of working from home:

  • Learning to communicate remotely
  • Swapping physical for virtual interaction
  • Finding some excuse to get out of your pyjamas

For most of us, adapting to working from home has been tricky.

But for the parents of the world, the past three months have thrown up an added set of challenges – in the form of the pitter patter of tiny feet in the background of that all-important Zoom. Over the past couple of days, I’ve been chatting to the Mums and Dads of Team Huckletree. Here’s how they’ve been coping, their biggest working from home wins, and why we need to create post-pandemic boundaries.

ON FINDING A NEW ROUTINE…

“I’ve got a 2-year-old son, and it’s been really fast paced. Not every day is the same. Sometimes he was really on board, and sometimes it was trickier. There were days when I looked at myself and thought, I don’t know how I’m doing it. I’ve definitely developed a new understanding of the word patience.” Kami, General Manager, Huckletree Soho

“It’s been difficult, but good things have come out of it. We go out for a walk in the afternoon and we have lunch together every day. I’ve had more of a chance to spend time with my family and build a regular rhythm around family life.” Patrick, Event Director

“Finding a routine in general has been really challenging, and when you add a 4-year-old into the equation it becomes something chaotic. What was really difficult was the transition from the old life to the working from home life, because it happened so quickly. You’re trying to get used to this new normal and it’s tricky finding that balance between schooling your child from home, being a Mum, doing the food shopping and disinfecting everything.” Mel, General Manager, PUBLIC Hall

“One of the biggest challenges for me was the change in routine. Working from home has had huge benefits because I’ve been able to spend more time with the family, but getting that structure was tough. My two young children were super excited to see their Dad at home more than usual and all they want to do is play and have fun. You’ve got to work out how to split time between them and work that needs to be done.” Ben, Expansion Director

ON BATTLING DISTRACTIONS…

“There’s been mornings when I’m on a call and my background noise is my son screaming because he’s not allowed a fifth biscuit. It happens, there have been tantrums and there have been times I’ve had to hang up on people. But the lovely thing about Huckletree is it’s a community, many of our members are parents, and people are going through the same and get it.” Kami

“Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a very big house, it’s very difficult to escape entirely from the distractions and I’ve had my kids on zoom calls with me. I’m holding a baby right now. I’m multitasking – I’ve become much better at that.” Patrick

“Distractions come up all the time when you’re working from home, and what I found is that routine doesn’t work. I have calls at irregular times during the day, so it’s tough to build a strict routine around childcare. We’ve had to take each day as it comes, to make sure that my child has enough attention and that work doesn’t suffer.” Mel

“You need to embrace to distractions, the noise, the kids running into a zoom call, rather than finding it a frustration. It’s important not to obsess about it being a negative if they come in and distract you or break up that work pattern. It is going to happen so you’ve just got to appreciate that it will do.” Ben

ON THE BEST THING…

“I’ve had the opportunity to be his Mum again and it’s great to do arts and crafts and have picnics with him. I’m never going to complain about being able to be back at home and having this family time. I think it’s made me a better parent, because I’ve had the opportunity to do all of these things with him and challenge myself.” Kami

“The best thing has been being able to see more of them. You get to see special moments when they come into the room and celebrate an achievement, having done a painting or a drawing. There are all these magical moments that you get to experience, and I think you bond with your kids a lot more during this time.” Patrick

“We’ve bonded so well. What point in my life am I ever going to spend so much time with my daughter? I’ve got to see her personality develop day in day out and it’s been amazing getting to know her as a person.” Mel

“I’ve really been able to see my kids develop and it’s been great to be there for that. My 7-month-old has grown up so much over the past 15 weeks and my 2-year-old has started talking more. Every day there’s something different about him. I’ve been able to embrace all of this day to day stuff that normally as a working Dad I would miss out on.” Ben

ON THE WORST THING…

“Creating boundaries has been difficult. Initially, having my laptop here and not having to travel, I found myself spending more time online. It’s really easy when you’re working from home to log on out of core working hours. So, I’ve really had to focus on the boundaries of what is work and what is home and try to find the cut off points.” Kami

“The worst thing is that you never feel like you’re very good at anything during this period. You’re trying to be your best self, and because there is so much going on you never feel like you’re being the best father, husband or colleague. But what I think this situation has made people realise is that everyone is just doing their best to balance so many things right now.” Patrick

“It makes you feel like a caged bird, losing that social interaction, and going through this world pandemic with a child has made me feel vulnerable. It’s difficult to make a child understand the severity of the situation, and to try and explain why we can only leave the house once a day.” Mel

“As a family there’s only so many activities you can do. There’s only so many times you can walk to the beach or walk around the forest before it becomes a bit boring. So that’s the worst part. We’ve all been bored and frustrated because there’s not that much you can do during lockdown.” Ben

ON PARENTING POST-LOCKDOWN…

“Creating boundaries between work and family life is something I’m going to take forward, and post lockdown we’re going to do lots more creative play. I feel like it’s a great way to supercharge development, and I don’t think we used to do enough of that as a family.” Kami

“Covid’s made me conscious of the need to feel connected and for constant digital interaction. Post lockdown, I really want to make sure that when I’m with my children, I’m not distracted, and I’m as engaged and present as I possibly can be. This means time away from technology and being in the actual room. It requires clear boundaries, and it’s something I’m determined the achieve on the other side of the pandemic.” Patrick

“It’s important not to be too hard on yourself when it comes to parenting, and routine, because everything will be okay. As a parent you almost feel like you’re failing if you’re not doing things with routine. Throughout lockdown I found it hard, but on reflection as we come out of it, I probably needed it a little bit. I’m much more relaxed now.” Mel

“I’ll definitely be doing more with the kids. I’ll make sure I’m having far more input in their lives, in how they develop and how we bring them up. And in the future, I think we’re all going to really appreciate the time we spend with friends and family. There are times over the past couple of months I’d have given my right leg to go to a friend’s with the kids and hang out for a couple of hours.” Ben

Juggling workflows alone seems like a simple task when you throw entertaining a 3-year-old into the mix. Kind of like the difference between juggling with three tennis balls and juggling with three flaming chainsaws. There’s just a lot more to think about.

Spending 13 weeks balancing working from home with childcare in lockdown has been an unprecedented experience for the parents of Team Huckletree. And while all of their situations threw up a different set of hurdles and challenges, but there was one learning that was echoed across the conversations…

Be kind to yourself. If the day’s plan goes out the window and you find yourself audibly wrestling a two-year old away from your iPhone mid-team-briefing, breathe and remember, you’re doing your best in some extremely unusual circumstances. Plus, you can always lean on Huckletree West member, bubble, the app for last minute childcare if you need five minutes peace.

AUTHOR

Kai Nicol-Schwarz