This is getting harder

Day (I have lost count) in the big brother house and I am starting to struggle.

It’s been a slightly odd 33 days! I started working from home on the 16th March and my daily routine is in the bin. Before I would be getting home at 1700 and running after children, getting ready to cook or go to the gym but now I find myself tuning into the governments 1700 daily update to pray for good news. Before i would be getting out of bed at 0645 and trying to organise the kids for school however i now quietly walk downstairs, open the laptop and start work, enjoying the 1 hour I get child free to rattle through tasks that require some peace and quiet.

The routine has gone out the window which is expected however the one thing i am struggling with is the blurred line between work and home. I will be the first to admit I am lucky to have an employer who has been flexible and a bosses who are checking in and making sure I am coping however the office is now the kitchen and when I close the laptop I am still in the kitchen with my head still in work mode.

When I am in the office it’s obvious I am at work, I can have a bad day and then leave that environment and come home to another environment but they are all the same right now, a blurred maze where kids will listen out for the laptop shutting and jump into the room asking to play or be fed (usually the latter).

How about going out for a walk to clear my head? I live in suburbia so everyone has the same idea and interprets social distancing differently which can create more stress (the number of times I have had to walk in the middle of the road to avoid groups of people is starting to annoy me!). Plus managing my kids, plus the allocated time plus I want time to clear my head however its now full of don’t touch that or avoid them or its too cold for this!

The pandemic blur has led me to closing the laptop and sitting in my house worried about work and stressed about the general situation. It’s difficult to juggle and prioritise work, being a P3 and P7 teacher, home life and family life. Speaking to others and doing the podcast has helped as its reassuring to hear others talk about similar issues but the days now feel like they are getting longer as the lockdown extends.

I think those that work in services can learn a bit from our academic colleagues who teach online. Speaking to Tim Fawns on the podcast last week (along with the below tweet) has got me thinking about the definition of meaningful contact and how we may feel the need to be constantly available. The blog post by David White touches on some great points for online teaching that could be adopted for all online working. The urge we have to be online 24/7 is creating another level of stress and anxiety about perception of each other and possible work ethos or effort. Speaking to my colleague a few weeks back the concern was about letting other down which is something we probably all feel and is heightened due to the pandemic and the numerous questions it raises in our personal and professional lives (plus an extra dollop of anxiety).

This week colleagues tweeted about Teams fatigue and how the barrage of virtual meetings has spiked. Personally, I had started to question my requirements in physical meetings prior to the pandemic but now I am trying to adhere to no back-to-backs plus no meetings after 1300 (the School of Blaney bell rings @ 1330 each day except Friday). It is tricky however using teams chat instead of a meeting is something I prefer (plus I have an audit trail of what has been said). Also the realisation we can’t just replicate the office job at home during the pandemic is something we all need to realise for our mental health and mental stamina during lockdown. Flexibility can be provided however its up to us to embrace it and adapt it to meet are unique requirements.

I am rambling however there is an ending to the pandemic, we have our health and hopefully you have not been affected or lost anyone you love, we will meet again and when we do the routine will eventually return along with the moaning about the trains, sitting in stinky rooms meeting rooms looking for a packet of biscuits and having a pint after work with colleagues (a few pints with some gossip). This shift to home working has helped me reflect on my work life balance and taught me I a valuable lesson, I wouldn’t have survived.2 days in the big brother house.

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One thought on “This is getting harder

  1. Myles

    Collaborate ultra overload – (dealing with user problems eg audio set up on own devices or why can’t I see all my students like Zoom?)
    Teams fatigue – (it’s new ,shiny learning to use it but be aware of some colleagues use it for maintaining contact beyond the meeting element
    Zoom – ( I couldn’t get you on email or Teams to respond so I’ve sent you a Zoom invitation, isn’t it a brilliant tool and we don’t we have something similar available)
    Meanwhile email is relentless, deadlines are getting shorter as everything about moving online is “immediate”.
    OK it’s not frontline health service in the bigger picture but these issues involve a learning curve for us all and that recognition needs to be identified. your child education issues are all part of this.
    so don’t feel guilty, don’t immediately answer all invitations and questions and think of a real pint at some point in the near (?) future.
    Stay safe and stay well

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