How has lockdown been for you? Not great? You’re not the only one…
The pandemic has been an incredibly challenging and tough time for everybody in one form or another. We’ve been hearing from one group in particular who were hit hard during this time- working mothers. It has always been a challenge to find the perfect work/life balance for working mums; we can feel guilty when prioritising one over the other and we often worry that we are never quite doing a good enough job with either.
The Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, has brought about added complexity. Not only are you balancing motherhood and the usual demands of a career, but now you have to add the role of teacher into the mix! For anyone who thought they were done with long division, it came back to haunt us with a vengeance... And with the pandemic encouraging a very home-based approach, there is often no break from it all which makes finding ‘balance’ in the ‘balancing act’ a real test for us all.
Our Designer and CEO, Lucy Choi, is one of these working mothers affected by this new ‘balancing act.’ Lucy, who has always believed in ‘going for things and never doing anything by halves’ has regularly spoken out about the challenges faced by women and mothers in the workplace. Life has changed irrevocably for Lucy now too.
We asked Lucy how she felt during lockdown. She shared that the introduction of home teaching for her two young sons alongside the pressures of managing her retail business has brought massive challenges. “If you don’t laugh you have to cry,” Lucy shared. “You can let yourself get so wound up if you let it all get to you, so you have to take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re doing your best.”
COVID caused much upheaval; trying to adapt a traditionally in-person business to an online base overnight was no small task. Even once stores opened, the pressures of ensuring a sanitized environment where staff and customers felt safe and comfortable brought about unprecedented challenges. Gone were the trips to the boutique for ‘face to face’ staff management. Those were replaced with a greater emphasis on e-commerce and international zoom calls at all hours of the day and night to ensure Lucy, and the team, could dedicate daytime hours to their children. Balancing all of the above without the familial and educational support previously available has been one of Lucy’s greatest challenges.
With female empowerment and support for all women at the heart of our brand, we wanted to echo many of the thoughts, advice, and sentiments out there during these times. (Source: Working Families).
Be open and understanding
To mothers, it’s ok to let your colleagues know if you are struggling a little, it will help them to build a greater understanding of the pressures you face. To friends and colleagues of working mums, please be patient and support where possible. Lucy Choi has been grateful to staff and partners who have taken meetings and calls out of the traditional working day to ensure there is time to put the children to bed, help them with their school work and prioritise family time.
Be sure to look after your and your children’s mental health and wellbeing
No-one is perfect, go easy on yourself and remember to give yourself a break, consider that everyone is just trying their best. Try and integrate exercise into your day and get those endorphins and ‘feel good’ hormones flowing. Alongside this, don’t forget the same goes for your children, these can be scary times for the little ones, so be mindful of integrating balance into their day of schoolwork, exercise, play, happiness and fun.
Maintain focus and maximise productivity when working from home
Create a home office or an area that is dedicated specifically for your ‘work’ time so you can establish a routine and boundaries and ensure you take breaks. Dress for the day, even if your office is just your kitchen table, it will help to give you a sense of self. Its’ been a tough choice but our favourite work from home shoes have been the Shoreditch black quilted, Carnaby silvery black, Poppy light blue and silver leather and St. Pauls Gold leather.
Prioritise the important things
Do one thing at a time; you can’t do everything. Family time is a must. Take the time to spend with your children bonding and try not to let yourself get too stressed over teaching. There is probably an excellent reason you didn’t go into teaching as a career - no one expects you to add it to your CV now!
During this complex climate, we should embrace the kindness in man (and woman) kind and empower, lift, and support our fellow female friends. Remind them that they are doing a good job and check in on them if you haven’t heard from them in a while. Kindness costs nothing and is something that will mean the world to those around you.
The COVID pandemic is a time, unlike anything any of us have experienced in our lifetime, and will affect generations for years to come.
Find the balance that’s right for you, not what you think the perfect model is. Make time for the children, and more importantly, for ourselves. Appreciate the little things and believe in yourself, accept we are not all perfect, and just do your best - it’s all we can ever do and that will be enough!
When we look back at these times, we will be proud of how much we achieved, and wonder how on earth we actually did it!
In our next Blog, we will be looking at how the Fashion Industry is managing with COVID.