Were the teachers lying when they said my kids were a joy to teach?
Embracing the challenge of adjusting to remote working while home schooling your children - all at the same time
It feels like only yesterday (pre-pandemic) that my friends and I were laughing at the now viral video of BBC news correspondent Professor Robert Kelly attempting to keep his cool during a live interview hilariously gate-crashed by his small children.
Oh how this blooper made us giggle. The serious expert presenting political opinion to the world, as a persistent toddler joins him oblivious to the hint “Hey, Daddy’s on the phone, little buddy’. If you have not seen it, you should. It’s comedy gold! The first child is followed by a baby on wheels and is deftly extracted from the room by the Professor’s flustered wife sliding in to save the day.
But who is laughing now? After over ten weeks of working from home whilst attempting to home-school, I have experienced a few comic online bloopers myself. They might not have been as high profile, nor broadcast to the world, but to the professional in me, they were cringeworthy enough!
Bloopers aside, combining work and childcare, let alone education, has been a tremendous career challenge.
My name is Kathryn Druggan, and I am a Senior Analyst for PDMS with clients including a global corporation and Isle of Man Government. My job as an Analyst requires communication, collaboration, and plenty of headspace. I am the conduit between the client and our development team and must continue to deliver the high level of service PDMS have always provided, pandemic or no pandemic. Balance this with home-schooling three children of 10, 7 and 5 and it is safe to say I have been tested in ways never expected.
I joined PDMS in January 2018, so I am a relative ‘newbie.’ Since joining PDMS, I have invariably been proud of working for the company, but even more so throughout this pandemic. We had established policies that allowed for homeworking, this meant that the infrastructure and security were already in place. Our teams did not need to ‘learn’ how to work remotely or introduce any new tools to the mix – this is our normal and we do it well.
The start of the pandemic and the 'new normal'
When the Isle of Man Government released their plans for lockdown, PDMS flung open the doors and allowed us to seize anything which was not nailed down (bar the snack and coffee machines). I took my office chair, laptop stand, two monitors and keyboard/mouse which were kindly delivered to me by our Operations Director. We’re a paperless office, so thankfully I didn’t need to bring paper home with me.
I am currently working on four projects for one of my clients. Due to our remote working policies and technology, the impact to this client has been minimal. My hours have changed slightly to allow for home schooling, however this has actually suited my clients who have a Head Office in the US.
Despite some of my contacts being furloughed or having to adapt the way they work, I have found that the pandemic has actually strengthened our relationships as we speak to each other on a personal level rather than just a professional level.
When it comes to my kids, I cannot boast to have defined a particularly ideal routine nor ‘typical day’. We have largely been ‘winging it’, probably like many parents. We've been looking for the elusive 'right balance between education', between fun and peace to work. Some days the kids are motivated towards schooling. On other days, a virtual catch-up with their friends via apps such as TikTok, Minecraft or Roblox proves to be much more alluring.
Over the past few months, our family has developed new skills. Daddy learned about dancing (although technically he still can’t dance) and we have both adapted a mix of fun and educational tasks for the children.
However, the biggest change has been in the kids – my youngest, aged five now gets himself up, dressed (in some very questionable outfits), can now ride his bike and I have seen his reading and speech come on leaps and bounds. My eldest two children can now write a decent Zoom quiz, have choreographed dance routines and designed costumes!
I cannot say that I have not been worried about the increase in screen time and have been disappointed that my children do not wake-up each morning leaping out of bed excited and driven to learn. As a parent, I cannot say that this period has been without stress or the pressure to be ‘everything.’
All that being said, I really feel there is light at the end of the tunnel. Our Covid-19 statistics continue to head in the right direction and there is a phased return to school (albeit under new conditions), so, this won’t last forever.
Thanks to our beautiful island, some exceptional weather, and a very supportive employer, I can honestly say that the Druggans have tried to make the very best of an extraordinary time in our lives. When I contemplate how my family will emerge from this shared bizarre experience, I believe we will be more appreciative, understanding and supportive of each other (if not wiser).
What I know for certain is, after all this, I will miss the time I have spent with my mini squad who have undoubtably taught me a lesson or two.