I have always said I am the magnet to my children’s iron filings. If I’m sat down, they want to sit on me – which is lovely. But if I’m cooking, they want to be in the kitchen with me. If I’m in the shower, it seems to be a spectator sport. And if I need a wee, heaven forbid I go alone. “Mum I need to talk to you NOW,” says my daughter. “My boyfriend is disrespecting me (she is 6), he said I’m silly … and can we do a Tictoc? And I really need Twirls and milk”.
It’s safe to say they are usually within a 1m radius most of the time – apart from when they are trying to nick some chocolate from the fridge or do something they are not supposed to do (think three year toddler using felt tip pens on my tablecloth, walls, wooden-floor, dining room chairs along with a bit of decorating of the toilet rolls) when they adopt the stealth of a three foot high ninja!!
So while I usually work from home, I don’t usually have three children in tow with their various demands, questions, and requests for snacks.
Child 1 (age 8): "Mum can you come and see my new skin I've designed in Roblox... it's pretty cool."
Child 2 (age 6): "Mum why can't I have a TicToc account? I am six, you know! Have we got any popcorn? No I don't like cucumber, it's green. What's for lunch? And dinner?"
Child 3 (age 3): "Num num. Potty. Crispies. Shut door now. Sausages *eyes light up*."
Many a Zoom conference call has resulted in one of my three children – usually my half naked toddler – coming in to say hello to my boss and pretend to shoot him. Or my daughter can’t find her comfort bunnies she's had since she was a baby. While my eldest, at 8, is usually in charge of trying to keep the younger two from coming in the office while I’m on a Zoom or phone call, to be fair they adopt the skills of Houdini to gravitate back to me.
Thankfully, my boss understands that it is an ‘occupational hazard’ at the moment. While he doesn’t have toddlers or small children roaming around, he does have teenage daughters at home in lockdown who have their own requests: “Dad, can you move your car?” or “Where is the exercise mat?” It’s all pretty reminiscent of when this poor guy was being interviewed on the BBC pre lockdown but had unexpected guests during his broadcast…
And, it seems, I’m not the only one.
Our case manager Fay has experienced similar challenges with her one year old daughter Ronnie-Rae including:
- Ronnie-Rae has found the button that turns off Fay’s screen while she’s working and uses this at any given opportunity.
- Three minutes before a Zoom conference call, when Fay had not used Zoom before, Ronnie-Rae had a dirty nappy and hid in a chest of drawers minus the drawers! Only Skips could lure her out.
- When Fay was on a call to an Independent Social Worker, it suddenly goes quiet (always a worrying time) and Fay found Ronnie-Rae in the kitchen rocking on the kitchen floor inside the bin lid.
- During another phone call, Ronnie-Rae took the opportunity to explore textures by pouring her drink all over the lounge floor before squashing a banana into the mix.
- And another time, Fay found that Ronnie-Rae had been showing her creativity with a pencil on Fay’s tiles!
However, our other case manager Holly has older children which present their own problems! Rising about lunch time, at least Holly has been able to do most of her work uninterrupted as she finishes at 2.30 and her 10 and 14-year-olds entertain themselves for those two hours on their devices or by cracking on with some school work.
Holly gets very little from her children during the day but because they wake up so late, they then spring into action after dinner and decide to play in the garden on the trampoline or doing Tiktoks until 10pm!
Our senior business consultant Steve has fared a little better, aside from a few Zoom interruptions. He’s learned to switch Alexa off too after the kids set off several Alexa announcements during calls. Steve did, however, have a visit from 'Dr Rose Diamond' - the doctor character his six year old dressed up as for her birthday who wanted to perform open surgery on him during a call to his boss. It’s a learning curve for us all!
However, as Fay concludes, despite the various challenges we are all facing, it is lovely to spend more time with the kids.
Most of the time.