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Motherhood on the WFH Front Line

Posted on: 22 Mar 2020

Motherhood on the WFH Front Line

Today, we’re talking honestly with truly inspiring women from Tyndall about how they are adapting to our “new normal” of working from home.

Dr Lynette Keeney,
Royal Society / Science Foundation Ireland University Research Fellow,
Micro and Nano Systems (MNS) Group, Tyndall.

I have two approaching deadlines that I am working through with my students from 06:00 to 23:00 every day while also being mother, teacher, chef, referee etc. You know yourself!

To make you laugh I will tell you about the disastrous Skype call that I had yesterday with a colleague. Of course, the kids kept interrupting, which is to be expected. But towards the finish, Sophie, my three year old, decided to climb up onto my shoulders. She then proceeded to shout loudly into my ears and cover my eyes with her little hands!

We did try to continue the Skype conversation, however the call came to an abrupt end when Sophie fell off onto the ground, bumped her head and started howling. Picture me trying to apologise to my caller while hugging away Sophie’s pain. I wish that I was exaggerating; this is not exactly the professional, inspiring mother that I wish that I could be! However, in these extraordinary times, needs must.

Tips for others: Don’t always try to be perfect.

 

MSc Magaly V. Mora,
Project Manager,
PIXAPP Pilot Line Tyndall.

My husband also works in Tyndall as a Researcher (Moises Jezzini), and honestly, I think this whole experience would be difficult without his amazing support.

Modern mums like me have the opportunity to combine careers and children thanks to real support - which can come from many sources and for me comes from my partner. Currently, we’re both working remotely from home and are doing our best to share things like household chores, checking our children’s homework and at the same time do our best not to overlap our video conferences! This can be tricky when you both work for the same organisation!

We both feel prepared for this ‘new norm’ as we have been studying with the kids since 2013 using the Kumon Method of Learning which enables children to self-learn with just some instructor guidance, helping students to take charge of their own learning journey and develop the confidence to strive for their goals without the constant supervision of a classroom teacher. This however only takes half-an-hour and now we are also using IXL to keep them learning by themselves.

Therefore, to adapt to our new working-from-home situation we didn’t really have to change a lot. Simple things like activating more alarms and scheduling calls just had to be implemented.

Tips for others: Check out helpful self-learning resources! For me, this is https://www.kumon.ie/ and https://la.ixl.com/

Anna Kaar,
Finance Coordinator,
Tyndall.

Before children I used to work once a week from home in a few of my jobs so I am not totally new to this concept. Since I started working at Tyndall I would occasionally work from home too so at the start of the crisis I was set up, ready to go and my family knew my routine.

Now of course many things have changed. There is so much more to think about and the stress levels can be quite high.

I guess I am very lucky as my kids are just great. On the first day of the closure we expanded our living room table and placed our (mine and the children’s) work/ study stations. The secondary school teachers have been fantastic so there is not much to do there on my part as far as home schooling is concerned. The primary school is a bit different so we both decided on what work needs doing. I have an extra task of checking and correcting and answering questions.

Hugs are unlimited. There seems to be an increased need for them. Lots of art, music making and listening. I had to make changes around when I actually do the work. We take a longer break for lunch and go outside, doing things like walking and gardening. We might end up having a tidy garden with plenty of salad crops by the start of the summer!

I get the children involved in the usual household activities, baking, getting the washing out for drying, keeping the house tidy.

We make sure the children can make video calls with their friends. It cannot be underestimated how much they miss their friends.

At the moment I would just love to go back to the office but at the same time I can see that working from home for me has its benefits too, maybe just once a week, like I did in the past. It feels I am quite efficient at home.

Tips for others:

- Reconnect with your colleagues at Tyndall/UCC. Keep up social contact via occasional emails. It’s good to feel part of the work community;

- Reach out if you need support. We All need it, we are All in it but at the same time it’s hard to tell who needs support right now;

- Give more time to your children, families, friends, hobbies and less to following the news and the number of cases.