Feeling Guilty on Furlough

5 mins

With so many companies and individuals adapting to a 'new normal', we are continuing to shar...

By Nicola LeBorgne

Principal Consultant

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. 

Since lockdown began for many countries in March, over 100 counties have shut schools affecting more than 1 billion children globally (Bloomberg, 21 April 2020). This week, we found out about Nicola LeBorgne's at home set up and the realities of home-schooling during this lockdown. 


First of all, how are you?

"Apart from normal worries about health, I'm finding I'm ok about the lockdown as a whole. I'm trying to focus on the things I can control and ignore the things that I can't change; I can’t change the economic climate, I can’t change the health situation (apart from being at home and being over the top with disinfectant!). My primary role is to make sure the rest of the family feels some kind of routine and I’m trying to use this time as family time."

What’s your home set up?

"My eldest is turning 12 and our youngest is turning 8. I’ve been fortunate that my kid's attitude to school is great. 

We are a routine led household. Routine gives us comfort and for us, homeschooling helps us as it adds structure to our days. 

The primary school has been outstanding. We’re fortunate to have laptops, good broadband…I can see that if you didn't have that or if you’re not used to logging onto Google classroom or if you’re not comfortable with maths... this would be the most horrendous thing ever. 

Initially, the school was sending through what they teach in class, but no answers(!) so the first week was hell… I was working at Sphere full time and the school wasn’t ready or equipped for homeschooling. Now we're in week 6, I made the difficult decision to volunteer for furlough early on and both schools are much more equipped to support us."


How has Covid-19 affected your family? 

Everyone’s family situation is different, if you’ve been affected by Covid-19, you can’t put pressure on families to complete work. 

Luckily they’re not in any crucial years of their schooling and their work isn’t being assessed. School keeps them busy and keeps their brains going.

If you didn’t like tech or your school isn't equipped, it would be really, really difficult. As a blanket approach across the country, it’s really tough.


How did Furlough impact your home life?  

The first couple of weeks when I was working at Sphere, we had a room at the end of the garden that myself and my husband Lee would use. It was difficult balancing work and home.

I didn’t want to do furlough. It felt like I was giving in. I’ve always been someone who wants to make something right and give 100%, it was a weird situation but once I made that decision, I knew it was 100% the right thing to do for our family.

It’s allowed me to focus on family and school and looking after Lee whilst he’s working… I'm in charge of lunch and dinner, which was something I couldn't do when I wasn’t on furlough - the stuff we were eating was quick and easy… it would be so tough if there are 2 people working in the house, both working long hours and needing to homeschool.

I’m using this as a time to step back and use this as family time. I hope that when my kids look back on this time, they will have happy memories.

I know I am very fortunate, I worry about the domestic situation of a lot of households during this time.

What have you learned from the past 8 weeks? 

I've learned even more about my patience level, particularly when it comes to homeschooling. You need to understand what you're doing before you teach them, it’s a lot to take in. Teachers are amazing, their patience levels!)

I think for my kids, particularly my eldest, Arabella, they are learning about being organised and self-motivation. They are learning the skills they'd need at university: having no real contact with teachers, sticking to a schedule, and prioritising work. 

Any advice you would give anyone with a similar set up to you? 

You’ve got to do what feels right for you and your family. Don't put pressure on yourself to do things. Lee and I were saying that we would read more, but our family hasn't read much which surprises me because on holiday that’s what we do but we don’t seem to have time for that.

The days are going by really quickly but the weeks go by slowly. If you can, try to keep some sense of normality; split the weekends apart from the weekdays.

As long as you’re happy and healthy, that’s the no1 thing. Focus on keeping as healthy as possible and as happy as possible. Do whatever it takes to keep that. If that means staying in your PJs all day… then do it!

What do you predict will happen post-lockdown? 

I don't know how we will get back to that pace that we were working to pre-lockdown. We love our busy schedule and our kids have all their activities - How will we fit it all in? How will we even get everyone out of the house…?!

There’s going to be some drastic changes. Working from home will be more common as we’ve shown that we can do it; location won't matter as much because people can work remotely.

Hopefully, as a population, we will harness what we will have available to us. We’re being kind to ourselves which we wouldn’t have done 15 years ago.

What are you excited about post-lockdown?

Being able to talk to someone without feeling guilty… being able to interact freely and chat to people.

The ability to pop somewhere, pop to the shops, grab a coffee.


Nicola LeBorgne
Executive Consultant - Media Planning and Buying


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