Nearing the end of my maternity leave, I had hoped to return to work with the option to work from home a couple of days a week to help with work life balance. At the time, this was not meant to be. However, when corona made an appearance, and the news broke of the country going into lockdown, my heart did do a little happy dance. Of course, I was concerned about the news of this, then, new virus infecting me and loved ones. But there had to be some positive out of this daunting situation and at the time, the prospect of lockdown seemed it would’ve only been for a few months. Therefore, I wanted to make the best of a bad situation- well that’s what I thought.
I was thinking of a couple of days of not having to squeeze up between someone’s arm pit and another person’s crotch as part of the daily commute. Being able to leisurely get up in the morning rather than every day, frantically getting myself and baby girl out of the door to arrive at nursery dead on 8am to get the 8:13am train. If you miss that train forget about getting into work for 9am. Maybe get in a quick workout in the morning and get some housework done in between emails so I could spend more time with baby girl in the evening.
But my bubble was well and truly burst, along with every other parent, when the announcement of nurseries and schools were closing too. I mean having baby girl at home was the safest option, and I was happy I was able to protect her but, selfishly, I was a little disappointed that my idea of work from home plan wasn’t going to be.
Fast forward almost a year, albeit baby girl is back at nursery (thank the Lord!), I’m still stuck at home. I say stuck, I’m not actually stuck. However, it is starting to feel that way. At this point I want to add (because I can see some raised eyebrows) I know I’m in a very fortunate position still working and healthy. However, it doesn’t detract from the fact this whole situation is extremely difficult.
Side bar, shout out to all the parents and carers who are working from home whilst taking care of your children at the same time. And those who are home schooling, I salute you!
When I dreamt of working at home a few days a week this was in a world where I could sit in a coffeeshop and people watch whilst working from my laptop or meet up with friends to destress after a very busy day. Spend time making delicious healthy breakfasts to start off my day right. I wanted to claim back those two hours of commuting and make them mine, or so I thought. Instead, those two hours are now filled with catching up on unanswered emails, prepping for endless meetings and adding to my never ending to do list.
My reason for wanting to work from home was to be able to cut off from work and dedicate uninterrupted time to other areas of my life. However, currently there is no balance. There’s no separation. It’s all blurred. There is no distinction between home and work. Hence, why I feel ‘stuck at home’. (Again, I’m very grateful). My ‘office’ is my dining table in my living room. My living room is also, my ‘gym’ when I can force myself to workout. My living room is baby girl’s playroom when she comes home. My living room is where we have dinner and family time. There’s no escapism.
For me home is my sanctuary, my safe space, my chill spot. I love nothing more than coming home and shutting the door to the outside world. Swanning round like I’m the queen of my castle (yes, I am the queen of my kingdom- I said it). But it is no longer my ‘happy’ place. It’s no longer a place I feel at peace or rested. Instead, my sanctuary is replaced with stress and anxiety. It’s becoming a burden and a slight annoyance. I’m no longer able to shut the world out and relax.
I’m doing the usual, taking breaks and moving away from my desk (cough, dining table), albeit to the kitchen to look out the window. But because we’re on lockdown there is little if any movement outside, so it’s the same view as it is every other day. I might even venture to the bedroom and tidy up for the umpteenth time to change up the routine. I try to take regular walks and get some fresh air, which does help. But even then, I’ve walked around my local area and park enough times, I could do it with my eye’s closed.
My work life balance has become monotonous and stagnant. Lacking inspiration and any real motivation. Along with lack of motivation, the constant working from home is not conducive to my productivity (if my manager reads this, I’m working). There are too many distractions. What I mean by distractions is, in one corner I’ve got half- dressed barbies and in the other I’ve got my kettle bell and resistance bands from my half-assed attempt at working out still left out because I forgot I had a meeting drop in my calendar last minute. The washing machine is going in the background, the previous wash still needs folding and putting away. I’ve got devices pinging left, right and centre. I’m thinking when I’m going to finish this last email so I can start dinner (my meal prepping has been slacking recently). And if I have to look at the walls that need repainting any longer, I’m going to lose it. And because of this and not being able to go anywhere, my home is beginning to feel small. It feels like we’ve lost a few square feet to be honest (maybe I’m being dramatic about that, but you can get my drift).
On top of this my family live miles away so it’s not as if I could ‘accidently’ bump into them in Sainsburys or go for a walk. I can’t see them and just have a good chat and laugh. I haven’t seen them for months! I previously mentioned my love languages are quality time and physical touch. So not being able to spend time with the family and run jokes or get a hug is proving very hard, on top of everything else.
Of course, I can call, WhatsApp and zoom but being on devices all day, I’m in need of real-life personal interactions. (Before I get in trouble, yes hubby is present but he’s busy working long hours). Whilst I don’t live alone, a sense of disconnect, isolation and somewhat loneliness is creeping in. The lack of my usual outlets to lift my spirits and keep me centred currently no longer exist and it is starting to wear very thin.
Again, I can’t stress enough how fortunate I am to have a good job, supportive team and family that are fit and well. But this situation is really hard.
Whilst I’m in no rush to get back to the office full time, despite my venting (some may say whining), I am looking forward to a change of scenery and different atmosphere. To be able to talk about something other than Covid, deaths, vaccines, lockdown restrictions and everything we can’t do. I am looking forward to being able to spend unrestricted time with friends and family. Catching up with the girls over cocktails, going out on date with hubby. Hell, just going to Sainsbury’s without a mask would be amazing.
But until then, I’ll continue looking out my window from my ‘desk’ thinking about my once dream of working from home in simpler times.