During 2020, we all went through a turbulent year; so much uncertainty and for many so much loss. People lost jobs, lost homes, lost loved ones and lost themselves in the chaos; so when schools closed and my then 2 year old and 5 year old were both at home all day every day; my world was on the edge of taking a nose dive.
What home use to look like
In previous years, having young children, I have spent most of my days and weeks focused on them, looking after them, entertaining and feeding them; my freelance design business was always a secondary thought and I worked adhock with no fixed hours, no plan – I just worked when the jobs came in.
At the start of 2018, I had started to build a structure that on the day when I was child free (childcare!) I would work in-house for one of my highest clients who required more regular work which lead me to being their sole designer. This meant I could really focus in on the branding of this client; building their identity and themes across all their events and promotion.
Sept 2019 brought about FULL TIME school and boy, that began a great adventure. New routine, more free time to focus on work with a 2 year old in toe…UNTIL 2020 and the world-wide pandemic and everything I had started to build went to pot. The structure went out of the window as I became full-time Mum, Part-time primary school teacher and part-time designer. The balance was definitely NOT in balance and the hours were all over the place.
And like many people around the world, a “new normal” began.
What home looked like in 2020
I spent late night hours catching up with work when the little people slept, staring into a glowing screen, praying the internet wouldn’t cut out because we were using 4 times as much now two little people needed digital entertainment and mummy & daddy needed to zoom endlessly.
The little people often appeared on screen during my work video calls asking for snacks, trying to show people they know the pictures they’d drawn, the things they had made from duplo bricks and lego and also to tell mummy that the other one had done something they shouldn’t have, or that they had spilt cereal all over the floor or that they had a dump on their head; all whilst trying to take in all the information I needed in order to do my job.
My job! This once part-time role which involved about 4 to 6 new clients a year; regular logo designs and event promotion doing flyers, brochures, posters, and social media design and scheduling collided with a sudden need to take ALL events, ALL promotion and ALL social media online at an accelerated rate and video editing, live streaming and weekly studio set up and take down in my living room was the NEW normal.
On a regular basis I would put the 2 year old down 30 minutes before the hubby needed to do his video recording; and then keep the 5 year old busy with school work and craft in the conservatory in order to create the most silent working environment. And as the weather improved and the 5 year old learned to ride his bike without stabilisers, we would vacate the house completely and head to the park….
So evenings would then become my working time and I hate working in evenings; my kids get up anywhere between 5am – 6am, so having already been up for 12 hours by tea time, and then working – editing video after video after video; keeping up with more regular jobs…this new normal was taking it’s toll!
How home changed
BUT after all this chaos and all this uncertainty, the pleasure of working from home surrounded by mess, toys, noise and boys; what got me through it was the reality check that we were, are and continue to survive this thing. We survived each day without killing each other, we survived the mess and in fact we packed up the chaos and the mess and moved house. We survived the late nights and the homeschool hardships and even made things to post to family and friends. We survived loneliness and missing people. AND WE THRIVED.
My business didn’t necessarily grow numerically in client number but my skills grew, my knowledge grew, my desire to learn more about what I want to do in the future grew and my strategies started to take shape. I worked more hours during 2020 than I would have if I had just had a regular 9-5 office job; most days I worked from 5am til 10pm but this work included being Mum, being a Wife, being the cook, the cleaner, the Primary school teacher AND the creative designer, trying to earn a small living so that the kids could get treats when we did our daily walk and discovered a new local shop or that we could get more paper and ink when we ran out, saving for bigger treats to see us through not being with family and cherishing the moments of being together in a year where the diary said we should have spent most of it apart.
What working from home looks like now
2021 rolled in and lockdown no.3 could have seriously hindered the plans I had and am making for the year ahead; but if surviving 2020 has taught me anything it is to embrace the moments, look back with fondness and not sadness, thriving is not always financial and that things that can wait must wait. Some things are not as important as they once were. Perspective is everything as as a WAHM who survived 2020, my perspective is to keep learning, push when the door appears, live in each moment, enjoy the spontaneous, cherish family and only do what you love because life is too short to be bored!
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If you like this blog, why not read “When it all goes wrong”