Our commitment to working parents has let us support our team during lockdown.

Mark Jacobson talks about his experience of home schooling and going viral on LinkedIn.

I was already in the remote working headspace when the first lockdown happened back in March.

I had started a new role on the tax product panel in January, which is a primarily London-based team. I would split my time between the London office, home and the Manchester office, which is closest to where I live.

I think the last year has been challenging for everyone in a myriad of ways, no matter their circumstance. During the first lockdown, I found myself working longer hours and ,although sometimes challenging at home with all four children, I valued spending that extra time with them. 

I’m lucky that I have a good home office set-up and my own space, but I know that isn’t the case for everyone. I’m thankful to the team for offering additional monitors, chairs and keyboards to ensure everyone can work from home comfortably. 

"I think the last year has been challenging for everyone in a myriad of ways, no matter their circumstance."

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Home working while home schooling

When my children returned to school, it wasn’t a case of ‘if’ they might be sent home to quarantine, but rather ‘when’. So, when I got the dreaded phone call to say my six-year-old daughter needed to self-isolate, my first thought was ‘how are we going to cope’?

While the school took time to get remote lessons prepared, I made use of activities online and the free education resources on our business school.

My daughter and I made video diaries that we would share with our family and it was reassuring that my colleagues didn’t mind my daughter joining some of our informal meetings via Teams. I think she enjoyed learning about what I do and, once she was set up with her schoolwork, it was nice for me to have a glimpse into her school life too. 

When my eldest daughter was sent home from school just four days later, my wife and I thought ‘oh no, not again! How will we cope?’ But, actually, it eased the pressure slightly as she was able to help with my youngest daughter.

When they could both finally return to school, England was going into lockdown 2.0, so it was strange that I wasn’t allowed to go out as they went back to some sort of normality.

"The past few months has taught me to be creative and to see the positives in the small things."

Going viral

My advice to other parents in this situation is to talk to your family, friends and colleagues. I’m not sure why I did it, perhaps it was an unconscious need to connect with others going through the same as me, but I shared my experience on LinkedIn.

I was overwhelmed with the response from my contacts and beyond. It clearly resonated with so many people who took the time to like and comment, which helped me to feel like I wasn’t alone in this.

So far, the post has had more than 29,600 views, 361 likes and 42 comments, which blows my mind but also shows how during times like these, people do want to connect, support and share their experiences.

What I've learned

The past few months has taught me to be creative and to see the positives in the small things.

At the start of the first lockdown, my son and I took advantage of a The Kids Should See This 3D drawing exercise, which I’d found on the business school. My son thoroughly enjoyed it and has continued his new passion for drawing, which has grown his confidence.

He received recognition for his skills in the school newsletter and Transport for London responded to our post on Twitter, which he was thrilled with.

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