Released On 2nd Apr 2020
Caroline's blog: The new normal
As I write, the world around us is changing daily, and we’re all navigating a new, very insular and yet much more intense daily life.
Things have been changing so fast. In what feels almost like a different time, I felt like I was settling into a new norm, and was quite enjoying it. I had been working from home for a couple of weeks, and the Husband had just started doing the same. With the kids at school, it was relatively easy to get a full day’s work done. We sat with our laptops at the kitchen table with the au pair wandering in and out for snacks and the odd chat before he took the kids on their daily afterschool routine of sports and music lessons and play dates, and then which we all had dinner together.
So far, so cosy. I was feeling thankful that our au pair hadn’t packed his bags as soon as he heard rumours of his home country borders closing, as had happened with many of our friends, and was embracing the changes. And when the schools closed? I thought he’d be our saviour.
But just a few days later, as we got closer to the schools shutting down, I started to have a complete, and unexpected, U-turn in opinion about our living arrangements. It was the realisation that, for the foreseeable future, it would be the five of us under one roof EVERY SINGLE DAY. No home office; two full time employees, trying to get our jobs done; two primary age kids to be home schooled, exercised and entertained; and a teenage au pair not allowed to leave the house or meet friends or go clubbing – and with the potential that anyone of us could get sick at any time. All of those stressors, along with heightened health anxiety, mixed into one terraced London house felt like we were making it harder than it needed to be.
And so he left, which made us all feel sad, but he knew deep down that the place for him to be was not with our family, but with his.
As I write, this is our second week of juggling a new normal. We’ve converted our au pair’s room into a temporary office, and are setting rotas to divide up the childcare. We are realising that flexibility is key, and that lowering our standards are the only way to keep sane. Screen rules have been relaxed, the house is a bit of a tip, and we are turning a blind eye to things that we wouldn’t usually.
And flexibility in our schedules, as well. Our working day starts much earlier and finishes later, and runs through the weekend, but is interspersed with a bits of home schooling, a quick game of cricket here and there, and having pretty much every meal together as a family. The husband and I love being around more, the kids still think of this as a bit of an adventure and we haven’t killed each other yet. There will be many bumps along this road, and we’re nowhere near the end, but I feel like we can do this (particularly as the new babysitter, sorry, I meant Disney+, has now launched).
So as we all settle into this new normal – whatever that looks like for you – I wish you good health and sanity in the coming next weeks and months.
Caroline works in communications for an investment manager and lives in London with her husband, 11-year old daughter, 7- year old son and – until COVID-19 - an au pair who kept the wheels of the house turning.