For the citizens of Terry Pratchett’s magical Discworld, this is the worst thing you can wish on them. The Discworld is very much like our own (if our own were to consist of a flat planet balanced on the back of four elephants which stand on the back of a giant turtle swimming through space, that is) and I think it’s fair to say that we are living in interesting times.
Our New ‘Normal’ During Lockdown
We’re now into week 8 of lockdown and have settled into a routine which structures our existence, as all the advice tells us to. I’ve even started logging the days of our isolation on a calendar, teenager #2 considers this a sign of my increasing insanity. Teenager #1 is still sitting on her cushion in her bedroom, venturing out for meals but avoiding the shower at all costs. She’s finding teaching herself A-Level content quite difficult and there have been a few tears. I think it’s the separation from her friends that’s the hardest for her to manage. What self-respecting 17-year-old girl wants to spend a seemingly endless period of time with a 15-year-old brother and ageing parent? Teenager #2 is holding up pretty well. He’s keeping up with his GCSE work, continuing to chat with his friends through Minecraft and even teaching himself to program. As long as he’s fed regularly, can watch movies and hang out with our two dogs, he’s content. He is visiting the shower much more regularly than his sister.
Keeping Myself Sane
I realised a while ago that I needed to block out my work diary so that I have time to feed and interact with the teenagers during the day and stop at a reasonable hour. I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home, anyway. I usually split my time between the office, home and being out and about. When I’m in the office it’s back-to-back meetings with colleagues but then the blissful release of days at home when I can actually get stuff done. Not so at the moment, the joy of chat-based collaboration tools is that everyone can get me all the time! No days at home in splendid isolation where I can implement the actions generated by these meetings – oh no! It’s another call, message or email. I admire our desire to get things done, but some quiet time would be nice.
Some At-Home Work Experience
I know I’m not being the best parent possible, but I have work to get on with and so do many other people. My teenagers are beginning to appreciate what it means to have a job. They hear me talking to colleagues, they see me meeting (and missing) deadlines. They now understand why I often have to work late. It’s probably the best work experience they’ll ever take.
My Amazing Team
I worry about my team too. I have asked almost the impossible of them and they have risen to the challenge again and again. They are naturally gregarious people, thriving on face-to-face contact that suddenly disappeared overnight. However, they embraced technology in a way that I think has surprised even them, almost instantaneously moving our face-to-face delivery online. They are determined to provide the same level and quality of support that they always have, whether it’s training, coaching or reviewing other aspects of school life. They are innovating all the time, working out ways to help school staff and children when normality (or whatever version of it transpires) returns. Alongside doing all this, they are looking after young children and elderly relatives, they are incredible and the absolute definition of professionalism!I know that I’m fortunate. I still have a job which means we have food on the table every day and, so far, the people that we love have only been inconvenienced rather than affected by this virus. My parents, in their 80s, are safe and well and Teenager #1 accompanies me to the supermarket on a Saturday to complete her Grandma’s shopping while I do ours. We live in a rural community and have no shortage of remote footpaths to walk down in the beautiful weather we are blessed with. And Radio 6 is still on air…