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A Day in the Life of a Working Parent during UK’s COVID-19 Lockdown – Meet Kelly from Shield GEO 

As a company who champions and advocates for flexible working conditions, each month, we’ve been profiling different team members to showcase the various ways they choose to make use of their remote work capabilities. Throughout this series we’ve seen how some team members choose to work while travelling, break up their days around hobbies, childcare responsibilities or periods of productivity and still others dividing their workdays between co-working spaces, home offices and well-stocked cafes.

Unfortunately, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and efforts to reduce its spread, all of the Shield team (along with much of the world) are sheltering in place and are 100% WFH. So while we can no longer safely offer location independence, the Shield team are still able to switch up working hours to suit them and take any breaks during the day to cater to other responsibilities (which have definitely increased during this time).

This month, we’re sharing our Head of Global Mobility, Kelly Dowsett‘s new daily routine as she works from home in London with her husband and seven-year-old son Fred.

Meet Kelly

Kelly has been with Shield for just over two years and started as an Account Manager before moving up to the lead role in our Global Mobility team late last year. 

Kelly’s family (before the lockdown)

She and her husband both worked from home before the lockdown started, but Kelly had modified hours to take care of their son Fred.

“[My husband’s] hours aren’t flexible at all, even now,” she says. 

Kelly would typically start early, take a break to pick up Fred from school at 3 pm and finish around 4:30pm or 5pm in the evening. 

“When he came home from school, he would play on his tablet or in the garden while I finished up for the day because it wasn’t too long.”

Two days a week, Fred’s grandparents would pick him up from school instead. 

“It’s been really hard if I’m honest,” Kelly says of the new arrangement which places everyone at home throughout the day. 

At first, Fred’s school wasn’t providing structured school work, and Kelly was aiming to keep him occupied for a full school day. 

“I was working in the early morning taking a big break in the middle of the day to teach Fred then logging back on around 6 in the evening, but it just got too much. I wasn’t finishing my workday until half-10 or 11 and then had to be up again at 6am.”

Kelly’s new desk setup at home

She’s since changed her hours again to make them more manageable and now logs back on after lunch — this time from the kitchen with Fred working on his schoolwork beside her. 

“I spoke with a teacher friend of mine, and they said the kids only really needed to do about two hours of solid work so I thought, ‘Right, after lunch he can probably do his own thing a bit more,” she says.  

“We finally have some school work for him, so I’m not having to teach everything myself.” 

Kelly’s team also has two other parents (Katrina and Marcia) who’ve decided to change up their hours to manage full-time work alongside full-time child care. 

Katrina has decided to break up her day, tag-teaming caring responsibilities with her husband, who is also working from home. Marcia does the bulk of her workday early in the morning before her daughter wakes up for the day. 

“I’ve just said to them, ‘Let me know what you need and if you need to change your hours,’ just so I know and I’m not sending them a Skype message and thinking, ‘Where are you?'” Kelly says.

Although the days are still long and exhausting, Kelly still feels like she’s getting through enough work to feel productive. 

“In the morning when I’m shut up in my office I’ve been getting through a lot,” she says. “In the afternoon, it’s a bit more distracting.” 

Kelly and her son, Fred

This makes sense: during the 30 minutes I spoke with Kelly for this article Fred popped in needing cream applied to a bug bite, a snack packet opened for him and a couple of questions answered. Of course, this didn’t affect our call at all, I found it very sweet, but it did give me a tiny glimpse into the world of a working parent

“During our team call, there’ll often be a little head pop onto screen,” Kelly says laughing. “But it’s all good. They don’t mind. Especially when Olivia and Violet say hi too — then the kids have a little chat — it’s nice.” 

Despite the changes to their personal lives, Kelly says it hasn’t actually affected workflow too much. 

“I don’t think the clients have noticed!” she says. 

“Everyone is very quick to respond when they are online, and they have the associates to help them draft emails and that sort of thing — and, of course, the clients are in the same boat themselves.”

A Day in the Life of Kelly

6.30

Wake up and look at my emails on my phone

6.40

Get showered and ready for the day

6.55

Make a large coffee

7.00

Start work, prioritise my emails, make my to-do list, and start tackling the tasks which need my attention

7.30

Check in on Skype with the EMEA team member to make sure they are all ok and holding up ok with being quarantined

10.00

Breakfast with my son Freddie

10.15

Start homeschooling with Freddie, this consists of Maths, English, and one other subject

12.00

Garden time for football with Freddie

12.30

Freddie has lunch, and usually this is when the TV/iPad goes on

12.45

I log back onto my laptop and start to work again. This time in the living room with Freddie

2.00 

Check in on Skype with the rest of the team in the Americas to see how they all are

5.30

Stop work and start to prepare dinner

6.00

Family dinner time

6.30

Fred and his Dad play, whilst I check my emails and finish any work for the day which needs my attention

8.00

Freddie’s bedtime

Managing feelings of guilt and pressure

While Kelly says she feels totally supported to switch up hours and take a break during the day, she does admit she still battles some guilty feelings. 

With every day full to the brim with responsibilities from work to homeschooling to getting dinner on the table, you can understand how one might feel stretched a little thin. But, Kelly says she felt this way before lockdown laws too.

“It’s my own thing, I think it’s leftover from the corporate environment where you couldn’t leave your seat all day,” she says. 

“Before all this [Katrina and I] tried to do something about it because we weren’t even taking lunch breaks, it was getting ridiculous. We thought ‘Right, we’ll join a gym and meet up together.'” 

But even though they both knew they would make up the time later in their day and they had the flexibility, Kelly says they would often look at each other and say, “Oo, we should be working.” 

With circumstances as they are, Kelly has been somewhat forced into being flexible with her hours and, although it’s far from ideal, she hopes it will have some positive effects. 

“I’m hoping this actually helps kick that a bit when this is all over,” she says. 

“I want to go back to the gym or do whatever and feel good about it.”  

– Bree Caggiati, April 2020

Want to know more about Kelly? Visit her profile on Our Team page!

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