Caroline's blog: The Coronavirus pendulum

Like me, I suspect you’ve hitched a ride on the coronavirus pendulum recently – swinging between complacency and obsessive panic, before balancing out somewhere in the region of business nearly as usual. By the time you read this, the pendulum may be swinging again. Or it might have settled somewhere on its course – who knows.

I remember the early days of being a working parent, when I would live in expectation of that phone call that my child was ill, and I would dutifully dash home whilst booking an emergency doctor’s appointment en route. Since then, I work from home twice a week, and pack my bag each day aware that an illness or childcare failure might leave me unexpectedly working from home for a day or two. Suddenly, and rather surreally, most the City has had to adopt this same attitude knowing that there may be a sudden office closure, school closure or generalised home-working requirement. My work team is well practiced in agile working, but I’m aware that’s not the norm for everyone. It will be interesting to see whether any attitudes or statistics around home and agile working switch permanently once normality eventually returns.

As a parent, I feel a responsibility caring for my kids, doing the best to look after my own health, whilst being mindful of not infecting older family members. Whilst it comes as a relief that children seem to be the least affected group, I worry that my tots could instead become asymptomatic “silent spreaders” (ironically, perhaps the only time the word “silent” could appropriate be applied to them).   School seems to be encouraging a positive and responsible approach – the practice of washing hands to “happy birthday” sung twice has been adopted nicely – so well, in fact, that I am genuinely impressed by the creativity of primary school kids in the many rude versions of the song that are being belted out from our bathroom. Not all of them scan, rhyme, or make complete sense, but if it’s fairly innocent and encourages handwashing, then I guess that’s good enough for me!

And as for school closures - on the one hand, there’s something attractive about the thought of us all being safe at home together during the working week, sheltered from the outside world. My daughter quite fancies some self-quarantining to snuggle into her duvet and work her way through her bookcase. Then reality dawns. For my son, who believes that playtime, lunchtime, and afterschool sports clubs, are the only reasons for school attendance, the thought of depriving him of this whilst I try to work from home potentially has the makings of a public health emergency in itself. We would no doubt get amazing value out of the film section of our Amazon Prime membership, and I could see myself dividing each working day into 90 minute “babysitting by film” slots.

With potential illness and self-isolation comes the inevitable thought of shopping, and keeping the cupboards and freezer stocked in case shopping gets difficult at any point. I’ve wondered how supermarket delivery drivers view the changes in customer demand – perhaps they’re playing “higher / lower” with their colleagues as to the number of loo rolls they’ve delivered that day. Or perhaps they’ve got their own version of Desert Island Discs where they assess each customer’s view of the essential items they think they need to survive a pandemic and/or weeks in isolation. If so, I’d be interested to know how our family’s “siege shop” of extra garlic, hula hoops and a bottle of Baileys fared in their rankings – disappointingly typical I imagine!

Caroline is the proud mum of an 8 year old daughter and a 6 year old son. She is also a senior associate in the pensions team at a magic circle law firm where she tries to balances work and family life by mixing office and home-based working for four days over five days each week.

Category: A Citymother's Diary


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