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Matt

Juggling Act: Working full time & Homeschooling

With so many companies and individuals adapting to a 'new normal', we are continuing to share some honest stories from our amazing consultants as they readjust to life during COVID-19. 

Last week, Boris Johnson announced that by 1st June, at the earliest, primary schools in England may be able to welcome back children in key transition years – nursery, Reception, Year 1, and Year 6.

Lockdown has been a juggling act for many families, including Sphere's Matt Demain (Senior Manager, Sales Division) who since lockdown began has been working full time with 2 children under 8.  

man behind homemade bar with sign saying legend with two smiling children in front


Matt, thank you for sharing your experiences with the pandemic. Firstly, how are you? 

I think the only way I can describe it is bizarre. From a work perspective, it is very up and down depending on the client that I talk to; Some clients are well prepared and have adjusted well to the situation, and others have struggled to be able to pivot their business to work in this new norm.

A lot of candidates and my friends have been furloughed. There is a lot of uncertainty in the market and wider economy and I have really appreciated the impact I can have by just chatting with people.

On a personal level, it's challenging as we aren’t able to see our friends and family but its also been pretty impressive to see how everyone has started to use technology to keep connected - My mum could just about send a text prior to the lockdown! She is now Facetiming my aunty and asking me what the difference between Google Chrome and Safari is….no idea?!  

What’s your home set up?

I have two children. My daughter, Matilda, is 7 and my son Abraham is 4.

My wife Francesca is homeschooling whilst I am locked away in the front room working. Matilda is year 2 so gets sent homework from school to do whilst Abe is preschool so his work is more play related and learning through songs. I am doing history and geography lessons on a Saturday with Matilda for an hour. I had to help her with some of her Maths work and it was beyond baffling with the way children are taught so I'll stick to the subjects I am good at!


What structure have you set up (if at all!)?

On Mondays and Fridays, my wife doesn’t work so she is full-on homeschooling. From Tuesday to Wednesday my wife is working as a Nurse in the community so I set myself up in the front room whilst Matilda and Abe pretty much run the house. Surprisingly, it's been OK to have a 7-year-old pretty much in charge of a 4-year-old for half of the day!

At the start when Matilda was at school and Abe was on his own I was setting the kitchen up as a playroom to keep him entertained, however, with his sister now with him he’s pretty happy following her around and playing games all day. I'm sure my kids are having a great time through this experience!

At 12:00 every day, I take my lunch with the kids and try and stay off work for an hour so I can give them some more of my time, away from distractions. 


What are the daily struggles?

We have got quite a routine going now so it's not too bad. The biggest struggle I have is making sure that the house isn’t completely destroyed by the time my wife gets home from a long shift!


How have you found working from home with young children has affected your setup?

At first, I was quite militant with the kids about not coming into the front room whilst I was working, however, after 3 weeks I realised that my clients and candidates were going through the same problems and challenges so its nothing to really worry about. The kids are kids and it's about getting as much of my work done as possible whilst keeping them (and me) sane!  


Any advice or tips for anyone with a similar set up to your family?

My biggest tip to this is for people to try not to worry. Everyone at the moment is going through new experiences and struggles in their work and we are all finding a new routine and process to be successful. I think the key is to be kind to ourselves with our expectations and demands…that applies to work, your personal life, and when home schooling!


What are you excited for post-lockdown?

Meeting people and catching up with them. I have spent about 10 years in recruitment as I love meeting people over a beer or coffee…cant wait to actually do this again!


Anything that you’re enjoying or have learned about yourself or about your family because of lockdown?

The one key thing that I have been really impressed with is how much everyone wants to help get things back on track. I have recruited into my space for quite a while and it has been really great to see how many of our customers really want to get things going again in sharing tips and generally being positive. 


Matt Demain
Senior Manager: Sales Division


Read more from our consultants:

Feeling Guilty on Furlough, Nicola LeBorgne
An honest review of being in lockdown, Bex Hudson 
Mental Health on Furlough, Natasha Chauhan
Mindset: 9 Steps to Guide You in Uncertain Times, Ed Steer
Home-schooling: Finding a new normal, Jenny Dunford


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