Juggling work, the kid and the kitties in the Coronapocalypse

The Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement Office’s Cleo Quinlivan shares her self isolation story…

I’m the office manager and EA to the director so I’m used to my days being full of a million different things to juggle and organise. Now that we’re working from home, I’m finding that I need to adjust to a very different set of demands.

Jemima and FrankieOne of the biggest challenges that many of us will be facing is the need to juggle work with childcare. My partner and I are both able to work remotely, which means we have settled into shift patterns to keep our work moving and to have time with our child. Most days that either means logging in to work at the crack of dawn, or mopping up any tasks late in the evening, but so far it works ok.

My daughter is four, and she is used to going to her nursery four days a week. She has a wonderful time there, and she loves seeing her friends, so it’s in the forefront of my mind that we need to provide her with a rich and varied schedule of entertainment while we’re all at home together. I’m not sure who finds that more exhausting, her or us! We’ve booked in regular video chats with our daughters little buddies, because they are undoubtedly missing the company of their peers at the moment. (There have even been two 4th birthday gatherings over Zoom!) We go out for our daily walks, observing all the social distancing rules, naturally. I think my daughter is coping ok with it, because kids seem to be so naturally adaptable and resilient, but I do fret a little over her emotional needs. However as long as she can play, laugh and have a few episodes of Paw Patrol each day, she seems fine. My emotional needs are being buoyed up with an evening glass of fizz and episodes of Shameless!

The PAE team are a pretty sociable bunch, so we’ve been trying to keep that spirit alive remotely. We have daily check-ins using MS Teams video chat. I used to hate the idea of video calls but now I really enjoy them. I guess it’s just nice to see other human faces for a while each day. I’ve also have a few ‘virtual cuppas’ with individual colleagues which has been really nice to catch up, just as we might do when making a cup of tea in the kitchen at work.

We have a team WhatsApp group too, which has recently been employed for things like a ‘guess the dog breed from these emojis’ quiz, and people sharing their banana bread recipes and photos of the outcomes…tasty! I think, whatever form it takes, it’s just nice to know we can be in touch with our friends easily each day. Even as an introvert it turns out I do actually need social contact….so I’m learning a lot about myself at the moment!

I also share my home with Frankie and Jezebel, two beautiful black rescue cats. At first I think they were a bit Jezabel the catconfused about having us all at home during the day but they’ve settled back into sleeping almost constantly now.

I’ve been trying to fit in daily exercise, usually in the form of a gentle run. It’s been surprisingly cold outside in the evenings recently, and I’ve found that a challenge as it sets off my (very mild) asthma…but I’m reluctant to use my inhaler often, just in case I really need it later!

My mum lives really nearby, and she is in a high risk group because she doesn’t have a spleen and therefore has to be extra careful about risk of infections. I take her shopping round to her and check in…always leaving any food parcels on her doorstep and talking to her from six feet away, but it’s good to see her and have a natter from the garden path.

So life has generally settled into a fairly steady pattern while we wait this out. However it hasn’t been without it’s suburban drama…Our next door neighbours recently adopted a new cat. We had our first proper meeting with him at 4am, when he had crept in through our cat flap and made his way upstairs in our house. My two cats, both much smaller than him, made short work of seeing him off, but not without plenty of fur flying and spitting. It took us all a while to get out heart rates back to normal after such a surprise incursion in the dark, and took sometime before we all got back to sleep. Needless to say we will be investing in a cat flap with a microchip detector now!

2 Responses

  1. Nina Vallard at |

    Hello Cleo, are you getting a chance to do much painting and illustration at home? I think I might have to get fluent in Paw Patrol soon; my nephew’s a big fan.

    1. Cleo at |

      Hey Nina! I wish! But no, it’s mostly work, childcare and sleep right now to be honest.
      Haha, once you get sucked into Paw Patrol there’s no escape! Just don’t over think the laws of physics while you watch it 😉
      Hope all is well with you xx


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