Surviving working in lock-down…with a house full!

Main image from Pinterest: DJ Fairhurst

Hi Everyone,

This week I thought I’d talk about how us creatives or small business owners attempt to work at home, whilst we are all stuck in lock-down, in this ‘new normal’.

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I love this lot but suddenly the house feels very crowded!

I don’t know about you, but having everyone at home, all trying to do their thing has shifted the boundaries of where I normally set up camp to do my work and it’s sending me a little stir crazy to say the least… let me explain…

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My usual working spaces, the office now occupied by the husband and the kitchen is like grand central station these days!

So, in ’normal’ life, when the husband worked in an external office and the kids went to school, I’d generally be either in the nice warm kitchen, the tidy, bright office upstairs or occasionally I’d pop to a café (Gosh I miss those!) to work for a change of scenery and some low background noise – all of which were very peaceful, calm and uninterrupted places to work.

These days the house is more like spaghetti junction, with constant noise, involving cries of ‘Where’s the laptop / phone charger?’ ‘What time’s lunch?’ and ‘What’s for dinner?’, doors slamming, feet stomping and the constant movement goes something like this:

The husband squirrels away in the office from 9ish, but sends texts like ‘coffee emoji, + 3 biscuits SVP’ (i.e silvous plait) like that some how makes it a nicer request to be interrupted lol! Every 2 hours, if not sooner, he’ll race down in-between calls and you’ll either hear the fridge, biscuit barrel or various giant crisp packets being raided, before charging back upstairs again.

At lunch he’ll run out with the dog, as I’m still not allowed to go too far, the dog now knows this routine and gets ridiculously excited barking her head off, which husband encourages because he has ruined her since being at home. He’ll put in his lunch request before running out of the door.

Next is the 14 yr old daughter, who we increasingly have to drag out of bed. If she gets dressed or brushes her teeth pre-lunch, it’s a bonus and I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve nagged her. She’ll sit in her PJs doing her work at her desk, very neatly but surrounded by the chaos of her room, a room flattened by a tornado would look less disastrous and I’ve stopped poking my head through the door as it literally makes my heart race.

Whilst her work will be generally ‘perfect’ there are common-sense (not her forte) exceptions, usually involving English, History or Computing and she’ll make her way downstairs calling ‘Muuuuum I need your help!’ which could take anything from 2 minutes to 2 days, I’m not joking.

At this point I count to 100 in my head and know that any work I had planned for myself has just flown out of the window.

For extra fun, whilst I’m trying to help and trying not to get to that hysteria point, you know where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry? She’ll then start making her new fave thing of iced coffee, smashing boulders of ice she’s made in the freezer or obliterating fruit in the blender for a smoothie, with the same trail of destruction as her bedroom but with added stickiness.

Lunch will be invariably be a bagel with cheese and a magnum ice-cream, that the husband keeps buying on the online shop, much to my dismay – we are not on a constant beach holiday FFS!

Every now and again she’ll also run down informing everyone to ‘Stay out of the hall!’ whilst she does her land-work fitness ‘zoom’ call with her swimming club – god forbid anyone who walks through in the background or you’ll be met with the death stare.

Finally, there’s the 12 year old son who gets up ‘on time’ talks you through his work for the day and then proceeds to get on Face Time with his mate for most of the day so they can do it together.

This would be fine if he didn’t walk around the house on this ‘constant’ call and you occasionally forget when you are perhaps strongly suggesting (aka shouting) that he should not leave banana skins or magnum sticks on the Playroom (aka his giant office) floor and you come across to ‘friend’ as the most evil, witch of a parent in the world.

Said son, when he’s finished his work then sends bombarding text messages requesting ‘permission’ to go on his Xbox and eventually I wearily give in, just so I can carry on / start what I’m meant to be doing.

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In between all this, the dog and cats will fight for space / attention on your lap / across your laptop if you do actually manage to sit down for longer than 2 minutes.

And then just when you get in the flow and think finally I might achieve something today and half the household has gone out on a bike-ride so the noise level reduces to bearable, you then realise it’s 6pm and you need to start dinner….

I should imagine I am not alone and that this will be the hilarious lock-down scenario being played out amongst families up and down the country!

I’d love to say I’ve got it nailed, but alas I haven’t and this is why I was working last night, a Saturday, until 12.30am (I was in the zone) on something and why on a Sunday I reclaim the office and hide away to write this Blog with no interruptions because it is not a school / work day!

In my mind the husband can deal with the pesky kids (I’m joking but still) on a weekend when I’ve been at their beck and call all week!

So, whilst I’d love to be able to help bring calm to your working week, we are all just winging it right now aren’t we?

But I do have a few tips for you that will hopefully help in the lock-down scenario, here goes;

  • If you are a morning person and can get up before the rest of the household then do, a few of my friends do this and relish that morning solace before the craziness begins (sadly I am not a morning person!)
  • If mornings aren’t your thing, then maybe add some hours in on the evening, sometimes zoom calls for example work better on an evening anyway. Whilst it would be lovely to be relaxing after a long day, sometimes it’s the only way
  • Buddy-up times, so when your child is doing ‘Art’ homework for example, maybe that’s the chance for you to do some too, or you can take part n their challenge too like below!

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   The one bit of schoolwork I do enjoy, Art! 

  • Equally if you are helping them in the kitchen, you can talk through something whilst stacking the dishwasher or making dinner – it’s all about making the best use of your time when you can
  • Set your stall out (not always easy I know), say to the kids, I’m available between these times but at 1-3pm for eg I am working or on a call – get them to be responsible for planning out their work too so they can work out for themselves when they are most likely to need your help.
  • Drown out the noise – find a space as far away from spaghetti junction as you can and close the door OR put your headphones in and listen to something either calming or inspiring whilst you are working
  • When it’s a nice day, work out in the garden if you can – the sun on your face makes everything better!

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  • When you really can’t work / focus, because there’s too many distractions, take yourself out for a walk, get the heart pumping, in a good way, breathe, re-set and know that this self-care will top you up for when you can next work or get on with your projects

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  • Write ‘To Do and Ta Dah lists’ BUT Don’t make the To Do Lists unachievable, ideally no more than 3 main things. Make sure you write the ‘Ta Dah’ list, not just about work/projects but of everything else you have also achieved/crammed in that day – it all matters, now more than ever and you’ll soon realise you are achieving a lot more than you thought you were!
  • Write those gratitude moments to keep you focused on the good things and not the fact that you’ve not progressed as you’d wished through a piece of work. I jot down 3 moments a day that have been good and there is always at least 3 to find. Share them on my hashtag too for extra positive power – #seekingsparklesofjoy
  • If all else fails, reach for a glass or wine, G&T or drink of choice (always drink responsibly of course) because I for one cannot believe I did lock-down up until a week ago without drinking alcohol! I couldn’t whilst I was on treatment, but that first G&T after 6 whole months, was quite simply, divine!

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  • And finally, know that this is not forever and we are all in this together, but your kids and hopefully partner will remember the time you spent supporting them and the fun things you did in lock-down AND that they will be finding it hard too so have a little patience – in true Take That style… (she says when I am absolutely useless at that but I do try!)

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It’s not all crazy, as a family we’ve done some fun things, like this ‘Come dine with me’ challenge, we’ve all cooked dishes for each other, a great way to teach the kids to cook! 

So those are my top tips for now, but also know that I am on a mission to try and get a Summerhouse in the garden that I can escape to and it become The Curious Creative Club HQ!

I’ve wanted one for ages and Author Sam Bunch’s outdoor office is awesome and is making me very jealous, so I am campaigning with the husband as he’s treated himself to his new escape, a road bike, and I need mine!

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Above, author Sam Bunch’s garden office and right my little Summerhouse plan!

I’ve even created a Pinterest Board and drawn out plans, hoping that the power of visualisation will make it happen!  Here’s hoping!!

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Author Lucy Clarke’s Beach Hut, who wouldn’t want to write here with a view like that!

And if it doesn’t happen I may just drive to the beach and live in a beach hut….now that really is my ultimate dream – just like author Lucy Clarke has, check out her Instagram if you really do want to picture the perfect author life!

You have to have a dream right?

Until next time…

Keep going, find your nook at home and hide, smile, breathe, we can do this!

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

 

 

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