Cheers of joy from the children on their last day of school before lockdown have long since turned into cries of ‘how long are we going to school from home?’ and ‘I miss my friends’.
The Kavanagh clan consists of my wife Jo, Grace (nine), Harry (six), dogs Sweep and Moss, Musk Turtles Chocolate and Mermaid Cutie, Matilda the brown mouse, and me Nick.
We all normally rub along quite happily in our three-bed semi just outside Newcastle, but when your home suddenly becomes the place you live, work, learn and play, your four walls can suddenly feel a lot closer together.
My workspace for the last two months has been a small desk squeezed in-between the window looking onto our back garden and the dining table which now doubles up as a home schooling classroom.
I used to think that it got loud in the office at times, making it hard to concentrate, but at the beginning of lockdown, I soon realised that my new work environment took things to a whole new level!
I have to say I’m really proud of Jo, who has kept a steady routine with the children, supplementing work from school with activities to reinforce what they are being taught – whether that’s through learning apps and reading books or planting seeds and baking. And she’d be the first to admit she’s even had to learn a few new things herself along the way before passing on the knowledge!
All of which means the dining room at times becomes quite noisy. But I’ve learnt to zone them out when I need to and, just as crucially, I’ve also become a bit of a ninja at hitting the mute button on Skype when the kids get excited/upset or if the doorbell rings, sending the dogs into a frenzy.
Working from home has also brought an added dimension to some calls, with fits of the giggles in the background a common occurrence. We’ve even had the odd toy passing in front of the camera accompanied by the command ‘fix it daddy!’ much to the amusement of colleagues.
The kids’ daily walks with the dogs have proved a bit of a lifeline, allowing me to plan the more important calls and giving us something new to talk about over dinner.
It certainly hasn’t been plain sailing. We have all had to find new ways of working with and being around each other. Things have by no means been perfect; at the beginning there were more tears than laughter, and at times it was very hard and frustrating. But I think we have now turned a corner and have got used to living in each other’s pockets.
I am very proud of how my family are coping and while there have been challenges, if anything, the pandemic has brought us closer together and made us a tighter unit. We’ve been reminded to take the positives out of life and perhaps that’s our personal small silver lining to this particular cloud.