As we near the end of the first half of the autumn term, I’ve been reflecting on just how much family life has changed for this family. The impact of Helen starting secondary school has been epic, but the biggest changes have been because Mrs Adams has been working at home since March.
During the first half of lockdown, the change wasn’t all that noticeable. Sure, we were at home as a family but I was homeschooling the kids and working from home while Mrs Adams was in something of an in ivory tower, up in the home office. She took on the responsibility for cooking the evening meals, but otherwise Helen, Izzy and I could go for hours at a time without seeing her, merely hearing her voice from behind a closed door as she WhatsApped, Zoomed and Teamed colleagues.
During the summer holidays, much of the childcare and child entertainment responsibility fell on me (as it did in pre-Coronavirus years). Things changed significantly when both kids returned to school. With the need to balance homeschooling and domestic chores with working from home lifted, we seemed to naturally drift into a more balanced approach to dealing with domestic and childcare issues.
One thing I instantly noticed was how Mrs Adams became an enthusiastic overseer of homework. Until September of this year, her handwriting made an occasional guest appearance in the children’s homework records. Since the beginning of this term it’s been about 50/50 between the two of us.
That, I should add, is no comment on Mrs Adams’ interest in the children’s homework. It’s just the before March she was usually out of the front door by 6am and rarely back before 7pm. More often than not I’d seen to homework and fed the children (or at least had food prepared) before she got back home.
In fact, I’ve noticed that mealtimes have become more enjoyable. We eat more as a family than we ever did in pre-COVID days and this is because us two adults are around more and able to help each other out and be around more for each other and our children.
Getting the kids ready in the morning was and remains primarily my responsibility. Even so, simply because Mrs Adams has been around, she’s been on hand to make packed lunches or even put school uniform together on the days when the morning routine has fallen apart. This assistance has been invaluable because as we all know, when the morning routine gets messed up, the whole day often gets messed up.
Mrs Adams has also downloaded the full suite of school communication apps. Until September of this year, she’d never loaded them on to her phone.
I can’t tell you we’ve ever been hugely houseproud. Even so, the house is tidier and cleaner than it’s ever been.
Well, actually, that’s a bit of a sweeping statement. The home office, where Mrs Adams and I spend most of our time, is in a horrendous statement with litter and rubbish all over the floor. If I have to take photos or shoot video in that room I can assure you I am incredibly selective about what I show!
In summary, our family life has changed hugely. The reason for that is the fact Mrs Adams has been working remotely.
This must surely be a similar story for many families across the land. It makes me hopeful for the many households out there where one parent was out the hours for hours at a time each day (and let’s face it, in most households that person was usually a man). While the Coronavirus era is proving to be hard on us all, I hope it leads to a more gender-equal world.
What’s been your experience of Coronatime? Are you and your partner sharing domestic and childcare duties more equally? Do you see yourself going back to working away from home five days a week? Leave a comment below, I’d love to know what you think.