For many in the creative industries working from home is no great shock.
Even with an office to go to, sometimes you need a change of location to develop an idea or write a script. That is certainly the case for me, so when Covid-19 started to shut down the world, I wasn’t too worried about keeping my projects going.
But, I hadn’t factored in my two kids who, without any schools or childcare open, were with us 24/7. Like every other parent across the world whose government decided to restrict their movements, life became a precarious balancing act between work and family life.
Emails were written one-handed as the other pushed a bottle into our hungry baby’s mouth; calls were taken while silently imploring my 4 year old to stay still and draw rather than demand I play pirates with her; and deadlines were met in the stillness of night, long after my body was telling me I should be asleep.
The only saving grace was that everyone was in the same situation, my colleagues in Brussels and Jakarta, partners in Singapore, and clients in Hong Kong were all looking for ways to keep work moving in often impossible conditions.
I HAVE IMPORTANT WORK TO DO!
It wasn’t until my 4 year old started to storm off, as 4 year olds sometimes do, shouting ‘I have important work to do, so leave me alone!’ that I realised the impact working from home was having on my home.
When I was growing up, my parent’s work was something that happened in a far off place, an adult world not accessible to or of any interest to kids like me. They would leave in the morning and when they returned they were just mum and dad, work was left at the door as much as was possible.
But that is no longer the case, work is around children all the time. The technology that has liberated us adults from one geographic location has at the same time invaded the lives of our children. Many modern children will never experience the division of worlds that once existed. They see both sides of their parents from a young age, the career who looks after them and the adult whose attention is consumed by various screens to the exclusion of all else. (You can see more about this unhealthy obsession in SRKs latest release SODO EXPRESS).
Suddenly I felt like this had impinged and even tarnished the childhood of my girl. I needed to work but had I brought too much of the adult world into her life at such a young age?
LET’S MAKE FILMS!
After some deliberation and a seemingly endless conversation about not touching my laptop, I decided the only way was to embrace our enforced proximity. So I explained to her what I do and asked her to make a film with me. We discussed the idea, shot it on my phone and edited it with her sitting on my lap jabbing greasy fingers onto my Mac screen.
No longer feeling excluded her approach to my work changed dramatically. She started asking me questions that often seemed beyond her years. The interruptions disappeared with only occasional curious loitering in their place. The situation was still not perfect but we had found a way to make it work.
As the lockdown was eased and life went back to semi-normal I also changed my approach to working from home. Now there is no multi-tasking with one foot in each of my worlds. If it’s time to be with my family then I am there completely, if it is time to work then that’s my only focus and everyone respects that, well they are meant to at least.