Coping With Work, Life, Kids & Lockdown

I thought about leaving my job last week.

I have a job that I love, with an amazing team of people who are committed, successful and lots of fun to be around. I have a supportive leader. I have the flexibility and part-time hours to suit the needs of my family.

What happened to cause me to think about leaving? Regional Victoria went back into lockdown at 1pm on Saturday afternoon. The regulations were stricter than ever, with a big difference for our household being the change to eligibility of attendance for childcare and early education services.

My initial reaction to the announced lockdown restrictions was panic, followed quickly by an overwhelming feeling that I could not possibly fit in work and full-time, at home care of my 2 children, who are 4 and 1. How could I make work and family life function successfully without something having to give?

A recent study by McKinsey and Company showed that globally during the pandemic, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 5 men have considered scaling back in their career either by changing roles, reducing their working hours or leaving work altogether. For parents of children under 10 years of age, this increased by 17% for women and 13% for men.

My husband and I, like so many other Victorians, had to face the daunting prospect of simultaneously working and caring for our children. Usually, on the days that I am working my children attend Family Daycare.

The Grattan Institute calculates that pre-COVID, Australian parents of young children under school age would complete close to 80 hours per week of caring for their children. The average daycare hours per week are 30, according to data released in the Department of Education, Skills and Employment Child Care in Australia Quarterly Information Report.  Most parents are working in paid employment during the hours that their children are in daycare. With changes to child care rules during lockdowns, parents are having to find extra hours in the day to both work and care for their children.

This was a serious challenge for my husband and I to face. Both of our jobs involve a lot of interaction with internal and external clients and customers. We both need to be on the phone or face-to-face on digital platforms for the majority of our working days. Adding rowdy and active children to the mix with their needs creates pressure and stress that at times can feel overwhelming.

What helped me get through this challenging time?

Talking about how I was feeling – with my family and with some of my colleagues. Every person that I spoke to was living their own version of lockdown challenges and there was comfort in knowing that I wasn’t alone.

Planning and organisation – Sunday consisted of my husband and I sitting together with our work diaries and coordinating times for uninterrupted work, where we would each cover the other with keeping the kids entertained (or off-screen during any scheduled Zoom meetings). It helped to be able to understand each other’s work priorities.

Engaging with my peers – The team at Inspire HQ immediately recognised that I wasn’t myself and were so supportive of me. Many of my colleagues reached out to me in some way and the resounding message that I received was to look after myself and my family first and to work out what was achievable and realistic.

Asking for help – My boss helped me to reallocate some of my immediate workload and assess some of the timelines that were previously being worked towards. This is not something that would usually be comfortable for me, but it certainly lifted the burden I had been feeling.

Reminding myself of what I love about my job – I rounded out my week with a Zoom call with a key client. We discussed our weekly activity and there were plenty of positives. I felt invigorated that despite spending quite a lot of time during the week feeling like I mightn’t be able to achieve what I needed or wanted to, I had been able to get some good wins.

I have come through this past week having gained a real understanding that I am not alone in finding this to be a really tough time. We are all wearied in some way by the past 18 months and how we each deal with this can change from day to day and isn’t a reflection of what we are capable of. I will be aware of this in my interactions with family and friends, colleagues, clients and candidates.

I was lucky to be met with support and encouragement and was provided with the temporary relief that I needed to find a way to fit everything in.



Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.

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