Wednesday 18 November 2020

Working from home more with an autistic family

Before the words COVID-19, Coronavirus, pandemic or lockdown had really entered our household vocabulary, we'd often dreamed of being able to work from home. 

Since having children, both my other half and I have had periods where we either worked from home for a period or had allocated days at home for one reason or another. It was actually easier to work longer hours when the children were younger. Nursery care for one of my kids could start as early as 7.30 and go on until 6.30. It's a long day, but it meant for a while I was able to go to work in an office on extended hours for a few days, spending the rest of the week at home. 

As my kids grew and their challenges became more obvious, being at home and being able to turn up at the school gates became crucial. We has assessments and therapies as in the run up to Anthony's ASD diagnosis when he was four, and then all the work and assessments involved in getting support for him as he started school.  And so it followed with David, who was diagnosed younger and needed us to transport him to a specialist nursery on the other side of the borough. 

With three kids I often find myself split - how to not deny Jane an activity because David needs me with him?  With my other half by then commuting for over an hour each way a day, we was gone before the kids were up and sometimes home after they went to bed.  Oh.. if only my partner could work from home too. 

And then came COVID-19

Remote working (and for us remote learning) was embraced. My other half was there for breakfast, he can say hi to the kids as they come home from school and he is around in the evening before bedtime.  He may get dinner with us or even.... a family movie night. 

But of course, working at home at a time when we are all at home all the time in lockdown hasn't been the same as that dream we had years ago. 

Being able to have my other half at home to help with child care for a meeting at school is great but when we are all at home all the time, working from home can be challenging. 

My other half spends most his time on conference calls, eating up the internet and sending shrieks around the house at devices disconnect.  Anthony can't watch Jelly in Youtube, David's BBC iplayer has disconnected and Jane's not able to get online to do her homework. That's if we are lucky of course... if it cuts off an important conference call we all hear about it. 

David doesn't understand that going into the bedroom while his dad is on a conference call is not convenient. We spend half out time trying to get him to look at a screen to facetime grandparents, and then a day later are ushering him out of the room and asking him to be quiet as business is taking place.  

We've had the odd Nico Rosberg incident, where people have wondered into the background - eek. 

More than anything, we've all struggled with space.  We don't have a house that is too small but it's not ideal to be at the kitchen table or dressing table as a desk. But these are efforts to find somewhere to work or somewhere that a phone call can be made without the skipping of our eldest, arguing of Jane and Anthony, or latest favourite CBBC programme blasting out from David's iPad.  Part of the boys conditions means it can be more challenging. 

Jane misses the connections she would have when she went to her clubs like gymnastics or stagecoach and so she seeks this connection in her family.  But the rest of the family have had no break from each other and each tries to find a corner of the house at the weekend where they can disconnect from the people they most want to be connected to.  We used our home differently in lockdown, but this is longer term.

It's a very odd arrangement.  We definitely want to continue working from home as much as we can post COVID and I think this is likely.  How we all work now has changed.  A long daily commute would no longer be accepted as a normal requirement for my partner at least. But other things would need to change too.  There are plenty of tips to help with working from home whilst home schooling during the COVID19 pandemic, but we also need more than that. 

We need to be able to go out and spend time apart.  Some people may be considering how to work at home without these challenges.   Home loans could help with making more space to help.  And if working from home, it can be easy not to leave the house. My other half needs more natural light so we've thought about light therapy  We are thinking of a garden office to give my other half space outside the home, but still at home.  

Working from home during lockdown was never going to be the normal way of doing it.  But we will find our way through and in the meantime I'm thankful that it means we've been able to be around for the kids when they've needed us, that we've been able to keep our employment at this time and we have been safe and well.  Even if it means a giggling David has said hello to a few work colleagues ;-)

1 comment:

  1. Oh yes, hearing you on all of this, similar ‘fun’ going on in our house!


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