What's happening?

Lockdown 3.0
29 Jan 2021
by Kirsty Smallman

Well, we're here again. In yet another lockdown. We know it's so tough but we can absolutely get through it (like we have twice before!). This time round, we thought we'd share what the J&PR's lockdown looks like and any words of wisdom they may have to share.

Kirsty Smallman is one of our directors and as we continue through lockdown 3 she gives us her thoughts on what life has been like for her so far:

"We knew what was coming didn't we? We knew it would be another lockdown and my first thoughts were 'we've done it before and we will do it again!'

But each time is different and presents us with new challenges. I feel fortunate that I can work full-time from home so therefore my children can remain at home. My husband is classed as a critical worker but we can manage the time he is out of the house as I am at home. He is able to work from home for the majority of the time due to the nature of his role. Every day I am grateful for this. I think daily about those workers who have no choice but to go to work and risk their lives.

What was different this time?

For me the transmission rate scares me so much more than last time. Full families are going down with Covid and feeling really unwell. Last time we knew one member of a family who tested positive but the rest remained negative and well. This time is different. We have friends who have been really poorly and are now grieving for their loved one. This has floored me.

Last time both of my children were in primary school. I found the home learning easy to manage and they did too. Again I feel blessed I have two boys who love school and have the ability to just get on with it. They helped each other and enjoyed home learning - the race to get it done and get out on their bikes or scooters in the sunshine was real! 

This time my eldest is in Year 7 and the transition to secondary school home learning was frightening for him. Day one he had to navigate Microsoft Teams for the first time, an online calendar, a mix of live lessons and Google Classrooms where work was set. This resulted in tears by 11am - he was scared of missing a lesson, scared of not getting the work done in time, scared of getting it wrong, scared of interrupting me as he knows my work is important too and when Teams decided to "initialise" during a live lesson and freeze - well that was the final straw. The 11 year old said through his tears "I just didn't know how I was going to get through the day mum." This broke me. A child should not feel like this. I spent the rest of the day keeping him calm, sitting next to him for the live lessons so he didn't panic if something went wrong and reassuring him by just being present he was doing more than some who didn't even attend the lessons.

The younger son cried because his brother was upset and I cried for them both. Our business? You guessed it - I got absolutely nothing done for our business on day one of lockdown 3. It could only get better. (I hear you say 'thank goodness I wasn't the only one!')

Both boys settled into a routine and my eldest is enjoying hearing the voice of his teacher and seeing their face and being taught. He knows he is fortunate to have the opportunity to learn when so many across the world don't. 

So we can't sit out in the garden and enjoy the afternoon sun this time (those days seem so long ago now) but we did get snow and that gave us as much joy for a short period.

And here's the breaking news... I missed a meeting the other day. I have never missed a meeting. I was helping the boys with their school work and got distracted and totally forgot about my 11.15am video call with a client. I jumped on as soon as I remembered and emailed them to apologise. The response... 'don't worry at all - these things happen.' The meeting was as fabulous as it would have been if I had been there on time but it left me feeling uneasy for the rest of the day. What did I learn? The world didn't end just because Kirsty Smallman was late to a meeting; the children were happy and the client was kind. 

Breaking news 2... I broke down at the start of a video call as my best friend had lost her mum the night before. The kindness shone through again and the client said we should rearrange. 

Again the world carried on and it is okay - but remember it is okay, not to be okay.

So what other pressures have I felt... (might as well get them all off my chest whilst I'm here hey!)

Being a chair of governors in a primary school adds to the time management constraints. It is a rewarding role and one I am very proud of but it has been busy, challenging and emotional. The journey through the guidelines has been exhausting but our aim will always be to keep our staff and children safe and well. I am proud of our home learning offer which has been developed into videos so the children can see their teacher's face and hear their lovely voices.

Family - now that's a tough one? 35 miles from Telford to Oswestry means we feel like we are in a different country to my parents and siblings right now. Thank goodness for technology and food deliveries and the fact we have all remained in good health so far. We are looking forward to plenty more summers and celebrations together once this is all over. For now we just need to stay at home and are fortunate to be able to do so.

For those without family who feel alone make sure you pick up the phone to your friends and neighbours and say you are struggling - the community spirit we saw in lockdown 1 and 2 remains and so many people want to support others. If you are reading this and still think you have no-one drop J&PR a PM - we love to talk and sometimes talking to a stranger is better than a friend. Go on PM us and have a chat - get everything off your chest too.

Our staff - our amazing team. The worry continues for them in the same way as we worry about friends and family. They all love working as one team in our office in Wellington. We enjoy lunches together, we brainstorm for each other's clients, we bounce ideas around the room, we moan about anything and anything in life and we laugh - a lot!

This has all gone and instead we have team members sitting in their bedroom, at their dining room table, in their home offices, with a child on their lap, with a dog at their feet or on the desk maybe and it is all so different. 

Face to face client meetings which we love so much have gone too. We are all craving company and time with each other and we cannot wait to get back together again - even if it is just in a garden for now! 

Our clients - we miss them so much but they have all been amazing (we've been pretty good too of course!). Communications have been happening at all times of day and night and everyone has adapted and we have supported each other.

The Shropshire business community - well you've rocked it! So much virtual networking, emails, calls, PMs and DMs to check others are okay - we wouldn't have it any other way in our amazing county.

Anyway a child has just walked in asking for help with his algebra so I better go - stay safe and remember we are all in this together!