Everyone has a story from 2020 – it was a year where very few people in the world could say they had an uneventful year. We were certainly one of the lucky families. My husband is an essential worker for the government so we always had that guaranteed income, which meant we were a lot better off than many. And because I work for myself, the whole homeschooling situation wasn’t as dreadful as it could have been. But this was our story:
- The kids and I moved from Pingelly to Perth just before the school year started.
- My husband had to wait to be transferred; the transfer came through on March 12th, the day the pandemic was declared.
- I therefore had to manage our children in Year 4 and Year 2 to transition to a new school without him. While living out of boxes, managing a business/staff/clients and travelling back to Pingelly on weekends. And my kids had only ever been to primary school in Pingelly where they knew everyone and the new school had over 500 kids. It was not fun.
- But Dan moved home, we had all our furniture delivered and started to unpack and get settled.
- Then COVID really hit and the kids were home for 6 weeks. Dan was not. I work from home.
As with everything, when it all calms down, I asked myself what I had learnt from the whole experience. There are a few things that I took out of trying to manage moving house, kids and a business during a pandemic.
1. No matter how young and carefree you might seem to be, stress has a physical impact on everyone. My kids were obviously upset to be leaving their friends. They had spent a fair chunk of their lives and all of their primary school in Pingelly. Obviously, I had promised them that we would go back to Pingelly to visit their friends a lot. But the borders were closed. During lockdown, my middle child had a headache every day for 10 days in a row. Then the borders opened and we went to Pingelly for a weekend. The headaches stopped. We walked in the door in Perth – the headache was back. It wasn’t simply a matter of her faking the headaches, she genuinely seemed to have one and Panadol would temporarily fix it. She was just not in her happy place in Perth. Making new friends was stressful. Lockdown was stressful. And not being with her friends was hurting her. I can only imagine how much others out there were hurting too.
2. When you genuinely care about your staff, they care about you too. When COVID hit everyone stopped making decisions for a little while. This meant no new work coming in, which is not great for the finances. Without prompting, all of my staff offered to reduce their hours, take annual leave or do whatever was required to get the business through the slump. They didn’t need to do that. They have contracts and rights and this was not their company to worry about. But it is their company. I have always welcomed their ideas and input and made changes to suit all of us, not just me. So when it all hit the fan they treated me and the company the same way as we have always treated them; as a team and as friends who work together.
3. There is always a silver lining! At Whitney Consulting we have always worked from home and run a lot of client and team meetings via Zoom. Suddenly we didn’t have to explain Zoom to clients or convince them that a Zoom meeting would be cheaper for them and more efficient. I was in my element!
4. I will never, ever be a teacher. How awful was homeschooling?! I do admit that I enjoyed having my 17 year old sitting at the other desk in my office doing her lessons while I worked. And the 9 year old is a mini version of me so she would logon in the morning, systematically work through each task and be finished everything before recess time. But the 7 year old. Wow. The focus is not strong with that one! Early childhood teachers must have the patience of saints. I do not.
5. As the old saying goes – you can do everything, just not at the same time. I needed to schedule time for schooling the kids and time for working. It was just not possible to work from home and teach the kids at the same time. Luckily, the whole of WA was in the same boat so staff and clients were all really understanding and supportive. I think it helped that I didn’t make a secret of the times when I needed to postpone a meeting or pause one so I could respond to a child. I was open and honest with the client and we managed to get through it together.
6. Most importantly I think is the lesson we all learned – that we need to savour the everyday. Being able to play sport, have family and friends over, go to the park and go out for dinner. These things are so much more wonderful than we realised and I hope I never take them for granted again.
What did you manage to take from 2020? Let’s all hope the lessons can take a break for 2021!