Marion's blog: Discovering the power of a helping hand
I met my husband in London but we are both originally from Australia, moving over to the UK in 2004 and 2005.
Because all of our family is still in Australia we've never experienced the support of close family around to assist in the raising of our daughters. Pre-pandemic, any time we wanted to spend some time together without our girls we would have to pay a babysitter and the benefits just never seemed to outweigh the cost. Then in October last year, my brother moved from Bali and came to live with us. Why someone would move from a paradise like Bali to England in the midst of a pandemic baffles many, but for financial and support reasons this made sense to all involved.
Our ability to cope with full time working and full time parenting plus full time schooling again during lockdown 3.0 significantly changed thanks to his presence. His work centres around running webinars and coaching sessions any time during the day or night and he works hard to fulfil all the client obligations he has, but it also means that he doesn't have the structured daily working hours commitment we are otherwise subject to. We were lucky to share the home schooling responsibilities between three grownups instead of two and it meant our working days didn't have to shift as drastically as they did during lockdown 1.0 – when we split our days in halves, then both logged on in the evening after our girls were asleep. This time I marked out an hour in my calendar each day to dedicate to home schooling and we got through her year one lessons mostly in the mornings, leaving the afternoons to too much screen time for our liking – not ideal, but it worked for us.
It's highlighted just how much we do ourselves without the support of family or the mythical "village" people talk about. Now we've essentially got a live-in babysitter although sadly haven't had the opportunity to use him for more than the time it takes to do an essentials grocery shop or a quick trip to a garden centre.
By no means is our pre-brother setup the worst there could be, and I take my hat off to everyone out there who struggles with support – the solo parents, parents /children with different caring needs, those isolated as a result of the pandemic or otherwise. I guess what I'm trying to say to those families out there without any or limited support - I hear you. Going it alone is tougher than anyone can imagine, and no one should underestimate just how much stress and pressure that adds to the load of parenting.
I think we're on the final stretch of this arrangement and I hope that we get the opportunity to at least go out for a meal (probably outside in a pub garden after mid-April) before he moves on, but who knows. And for those of you that have it, cherish it - it's worth its weight in gold!!
Marion works in Change and Business Improvement at a global law firm and lives with her husband and 2 daughters plus her brother (for now) and the latest addition to the family, Sally the cat.