We are all at storm but not in the same boat..

 

We’ve spoken to many Mums about how they are adapting at this uncertain time and making changes to their normal routine. 

So, as part of our Mums Supporting Mums Campaign, we interviewed working mum Emily Hutchison and her son, Dougie (2) to hear her story. 

What did a typical day look like before COVID-19? 

I work for Vodafone as a Marketing Activation Manager and recently went back up to full-time hours. It’s a very busy role! 

I had a mixture of childcare in place, which included my son going to nursery for two days, staying with my mum for one day, and then a full weekday with his Dad. This gave me Fridays with my son, where we would have a chilled day together. 

What does a typical day look like in COVID-19? 

There isn’t one! I find it difficult to find a balance when you can’t plan at all. As my son is only 2, he doesn’t have a curriculum for us to follow, and he certainly isn’t interested in crafting or baking – only noise and destruction! So it all depends what energy we have available to get through the morning period before his midday nap. Once nap-time arrives, I’m then squeezing in as much work time as possible before he wakes up again. It’s really tough to plan your time and schedule meetings when you don’t know precisely which hours you’ll have spare.

We all have different patterns of productivity through the day, and my peak was always in the afternoon and evening – which is fine when you haven’t got a toddler in the house, but I can’t just plan around that ramp-up of energy now! I’d have to force productivity during the windows I was given, and so often just when I was getting into the groove, he would wake up and I would have to stop.

It can be overwhelming to feel so out of control during lockdown, with so many unknowns – not least how much longer this will continue. I knew I had to be kind to myself, based on prior experience.

Something had to change 

I was finding the balance of work and childcare very hard, and we felt the impact of COVID-19 quite close to home, so I was pretty exhausted quite early on. I decided to be really honest with myself and, most importantly, with my line manager too. My work pattern needed to change to accommodate what was going on, and I needed a more realistic plan for the foreseeable future in lockdown. 

My employer, and my manager, in particular, have been absolutely fantastic at flexing to support me. They’ve removed the layer of fear that some people have experienced (like worrying about reduced hours meaning reduced income) and given me the tools to adapt. I’m incredibly grateful to have been kept afloat with such compassion in the past couple of months. It works both ways, though, as it means I’m happy to log on again in the evening if needed. 

Dougie’s Dad has been great too. He is self-employed and has been able to adapt his hours to give me more ‘on’ time. We’ve been trialling this for a few weeks now, and it’s working well as it enables me to keep working once I find my flow – so I no longer feel like I’m constantly chasing my tail or spinning too many plates. 

What is your biggest challenge right now? 

Sleep deprivation, lack of routine and limited socialisation! 

What have you learnt about yourself in the last 6 weeks? 

That I do now have a lot more control over my mental health than I realised. 

I’ve experienced postnatal PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder caused by a traumatic birth) and after some really intensive therapy, it seems that I’m quite quick to identify triggers now. I knew I was slipping, and I knew what tools I needed to deploy. So, next time I can see a dip on the horizon, I think I’ll feel far more capable to tackle it! 

What 3 things that ARE working right now? 

  • Working from home. I do actually love working from home – I’m a homebody and don’t miss the commute at all! 
  • The slower pace of life. Despite having a massive workload and competing priorities, I do feel that the world has slowed down and there’s something quite nice about that (notwithstanding the reasons behind it). 
  • Co-parenting. I am so grateful that we’ve been able to work quickly to build a brilliant team to keep our son happy and support each other through all this. 

Finally, what would you say to the Successful Mums audience? 

Be honest with yourself, and definitely be completely honest with your employer about what you need at this time. Also, do be kind to yourself – it is ok if you are finding it tough, because everyone is, in their own way. None of this is normal for anyone! 

A big thank you to Emily for sharing her experience with us as part of our Mums Supporting Mums interviews and credit to Emma Watts Photography for the lovely photographs.

Register your interest to keep up to date with how we work with women returners and employers by emailing jane@successfulmums.co.uk