Resolutions and plans may have already been undone by this week’s events in the coronavirus crisis. But hope still springs.
Let’s start with the formalities: happy new year.
Except, of course, so far it’s been anything but a happy new year. Yet bear with me and I’ll eke out some positives. Or try to.
From plotting to campaign for change and make this the year we stride towards gender equality I, like many people, have rapidly switched to survival mode.
Last Saturday I decided one of my 2021 resolutions would be to write another book. By Tuesday that idea had been binned in favour of a resolution to get to the end of the week without shouting at anyone. Instead of writing a publishers’ pitch I was drawing up a home school timetable.
One week into the new year I’m sure I’m not alone among working dads in feeling scrambled.
We’ll continue to make the case for change on workingdads.co.uk. But I won’t be offended if for now our more practical pieces on your childcare options or what constitutes a key worker attract more readers.
Putting one foot in front of the other counts as success for many working parents right now. Just as it did last spring. And yet those little victories lead to progress. There’s no shame in scaling down our ambitions. If we manage to put one foot in front of the other, get through each day, we are moving inexorably nearer to something else. Hopefully something better. Personally I’m more enthused by the imminent return of BBC Bitesize and Joe Wicks’ daily workouts than any hope Covid vaccines might hold out somewhere down the line. I’d far rather see Katie Thistleton on my telly than Chris Whitty.
And there are other positives. For a start I got fed up in November lockdown working at the kitchen table looking out on an empty garden altered daily only by the number of leaves that had fallen from the apple tree. Just a few weeks later the bulbs are poking greenery through the soil. New life, hope, all that jazz.
But better than that I get to look across the table at my co-worker: my 10-year-old son. It’s harder to work with him giving a running commentary on his homeschool exercises. But strip away the annoyances and inconveniences of educating at home and the fundamental truth is there’s no-one I’d rather be at work with. Working from home in a lockdown is boring when you can’t go meet anyone, can’t even pop to a cafe for a change of scene. Having the kids at home brings variety, inspiration, spontaneity and love.
The happy new year we all hoped for has already proved a mirage. That’s a crushing blow to everyone’s mental health. Any relaxation banked by working dads over the Christmas break has been wiped out by the stress these early days of 2021 have brought. But we’ve done this before and we’ll do it again this time. We’ll take solace in our families and yet again affirm that we’ll wear both parts of the ‘working dad’ title with pride.
Get in touch in the comments or via social media if you’ve questions, concerns or particular issues you want us to address on these pages that’ll help you.
We’ve got this if we hang together – as equal partners, loving fathers, reasonable employers and employees, as working dads.