Advice column: I’m getting worn down trying to juggle all my commitments
Dear Ash,

I am still finding it difficult to adjust to working from home full time as well as home-schooling my children and attending to the housework. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic I was able to escape to the office and focus purely on my work, and I am finding it difficult to concentrate with the various distractions at home. I have little support as my husband still attends work during the day, so I am the one primarily juggling childcare with work commitments. I normally have my mum to help with childcare, but she is self-isolating due to her health conditions. I’m getting tired and frustrated due to the demands on my time and am consequently unable to concentrate on work properly, which my manager recently commented on too.


Ash replies:

It has been tough adjusting to lockdown conditions; and according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies and UCL Institute of Education, mothers have found it much more challenging to carry out uninterrupted paid work during lockdown compared to fathers. You are therefore not alone! However, for your own sake you need to take steps to address the issue. First, find out from your employer if there is any flexibility in regard to your working hours: for example, consider starting work earlier when the children may be sleeping or otherwise engaged, or later than normal hours to work around the childcare you need to provide. Most employers are happy to be more accommodating in the current circumstances, especially if it improves productivity and employee engagement in the long term.

Also try to find a pocket of space in your home where you can close the door and focus for at least a couple of hours whilst the kids watch a film or play in the garden. For smaller children I appreciate this is not always possible, but see if your partner can assist with the childcare to allow you to at least have a couple of hours of breathing space.

Another important part of your wellbeing is to get a good night’s sleep. I appreciate that the pressures of work can often disturb sleeping patterns, so try to set out a daily to do list for work and for your home, and to tick off at least two or three tasks each day. This will give you a sense of achievement, rather than make you feel dread at what you have still to do.

You also need some time to yourself to relax in order to recharge your batteries for the next day, so after the kids are in bed and the laptop is closed, find time to treat yourself: a few candles, a warm bath, a chat with friends by phone or even just a cuppa in front of the telly – anything that helps, as it is clearly well deserved! Restrictions should hopefully ease and this should help to restore some balance back to our lives. Take care.

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and other legal professionals, which can be put to her via the editor: Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team. Email or phone 0131 226 7411 (select option 3).

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