The Lawyer’s Working Parents survey ran in February, and as we suspected it might, garnered a huge response from frustrated parents at the end of their tether during this pandemic. Part One deals with how parents are coping and organisations’ responses; part two focuses on career aspirations and prospects.

We received more than 1,200 responses, and the sense of exhaustion was palpable: you will read plenty of comments to that effect below.

But the results show a more complex picture than a scream of rage against organisations.

In fact, when it came to rating how their organisations had accommodated working parents there was a real mix of attitudes. Indeed, fully 10 per cent of respondents awarded their business full marks for their response – but at the other end of the spectrum, 3 per cent of respondents scored their organisation 0 out of 10. The most common response was 8 out of 10 and 58 per cent of those who answered rated their organisation 7 or above compared to 24 per cent who gave a score of 0-3.

Clearly, while there are some businesses failing parents, many others are considered to be doing a fair job in the circumstances.

Business development staff and HR/grad recruitment personnel scored their firms exceptionally highly (other areas, such as IT personnel, did not elicit enough responses to warrant individual inclusion); mid-to-senior associates, meanwhile, felt much less positive about their experience. Both GCs and their underlings also scored their organisations relatively poorly, suggesting this is one area where in-house doesn’t have the edge over private practice.

We asked if organisations had proactively asked about parents’ childcare situation and if they needed help: the response was split. Across law firms, a minority of respondents had been asked, with national firms scoring highest (52 per cent) and US firms lowest (32 per cent). US firms matched in-house organisations in this regard; however, even they outscored the Bar.

Only 18 per cent of barrister parents had experienced their chambers check in on them regarding their childcare needs. Barristers are of course nominally self-employed, but in practice clerks have great influence on their career and chambers are increasingly run as businesses. Chambers administrators may not see it as their job to butt in on barristers’ living situations, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need support. The pandemic exposes truth of the Bar: while they may be full of caring individuals and may even feel like a family, there can be a void at the heart of chambers when it comes to institutional support. To be fair, however, a lot of barristers who responded were positive about their chambers; indeed, most said that it was impossible for their set to help them much.
The Bar: selected comments

A number of barristers responded to the survey, but not enough to draw sweeping conclusions. Here are some of their comments.

  • “I have great clerks who have always worked around my parenting responsibilities as best clients and the Courts permit”
  • “I have canvassed other affected members of chambers, and we are just not sure what chambers could offer to barristers that could assist.”
  • “Barristers chambers seem to be behind the times when it comes to remote working.  Working remotely has proved to be a great success and I am concerned that chambers policy won’t change once the pandemic has eased and we will all be expected to be back in the office five days a week.  There is a real opportunity here for the Bar to promote part-time remote work, the immediate benefits being reduced office space and staff wellbeing.  There are no disadvantages as far as I can see.”
  • “The Bar Standards Board has not in my view done anything to support women barristers with the added pressure of childcare responsibilities during the pandemic. Individual chambers are focused on collective survival rather than the specific situation of women. There is already an issue with the retention of women at the bar after having children and the pandemic has exacerbated this issue.”
  • “Rent/receipt holidays could be offered to those with younger children who are home schooling and therefore cannot work as much.”
  • “As barristers we are self employed and assumed we can just get on with it.”
  • “It’s the Bar – forget it! We have no HR Department, no furlough, no leave, if we take extra leave then no earnings. The interesting question is what law firms, clients, GLD and courts have done to offer adjustments re deadlines or resources – answer also nil I am afraid.”
  • “No express discussion about financial support but if needed I am confident it would be favourably considered.”

How are firms catering to working parents?

A selection of comments are listed below, giving a sample of what different firms are doing. It was notable that respondents from certain firms were much clearer than others about what was being offered.

For example, parents at Addleshaw Goddard, CMS, Pinsent Masons and Shoosmiths were all highly consistent in reporting on what their firms’ policies are. By contrast, Freshfields employees appeared confused, some listing policies that other colleagues seemed completely unaware of.

The comments below are broadly representative of the tone of respondents from each firm.

Extra paid parental leave/dependency leave; flexibility to work hours around childcare/home-schooling; allowing line management flexibility in assessing team/individual performance (partner, M, Irwin Mitchell) EY doubled the ‘special leave entitlement’. The move to remote working was not really out of the norm given EY’s pre-COVID working model, parents have generally been able to fit work around childcare. (Senior associate, M, EY) The offer of an extra day’s holiday where four day’s annual leave are taking for caring purposes. “Flexible” working (read: doing the same/more hours later into the evenings) (senior associate, F, Eversheds Sutherland) I have not needed any of these as my child is capable of solo study and is being provided with excellent on-line lessons by the local 6th form college. However, CMS has been very supportive to staff during the Covid crisis and should be praised for this (Lawyer, F, CMS)
Flexible hours, parental leave, furlough, reduced hours. Open offer to discuss personal circumstances and see what is needed. Wellbeing webinars on surviving lockdown and support for parents. They are also running zoom based holiday club ideas in half term (dancing, musical theatre etc) so the kids have something to do during the break. (Business services, F, Mills & Reeve) Additional 5 days carers leave at full pay.  Full support of team to work at times that suit me and to just do my best without sacrificing my mental health. The firm has put on numerous support sessions and webinars for those with caring responsibilities including how to support your child’s mental health, how to manage your time and switching off.  Have reaffirmed the lunch hour with no meetings permitted between 1-2pm. (business services, F, Pinsent Masons) Flexible working pattern to allow work around childcare (encouraged to block out time in calendar etc), ability to use emergency dependent care days if needed, option to discuss sabbaticals or unpaid leave if appropriate. (Senior associate, F, 30s, Osborne Clarke) They’ve been fantastic.  Willing to work with whatever is the best solution I can offer.  Formal systems for mini-sabbaticals, amendment to working hours and emergency paid leave.  But more importantly, informal adjustments to working hours (eg. working 6am-1pm instead of 9-5 so my husband and I can both cover work and childcare between us when nursery was shut).  the flexibility has been fantastic.  As have the pulse surveys (mental health) (Lawyer, F, DLA Piper)
Extra leave offered to those with younger children (senior associate, F, BCLP) Extra 5 days paid leave for caring commitments (Senior associate, F, Clyde & Co) Flexible furlough (Mid-level associate, F, Ashfords) 5 extra days leave (Partner, F, Harrison Clark Rickerbys)
2 additional days carers leave if needed and ability to buy extra holidays (Senior associate, F, DWF) Extra leave, access to some agency childcare assistance, flexibility on when hours are worked. (Lawyer, F, Lewis Silkin) Flexibility in hours and adjustments to work loads on an individual basis, although no formal policy. (Partner, M, Clifford Chance) Flexible time + support from third-party service providers at a discount (Partner, M, Kirkland & Ellis)
80 hours of Covid Family Care Time with the option to be extended (a Covid time Code has been introduced that employees use if they have care commitments, including but not limited to home schooling)  An extra £500 to cover Covid related costs. (Senior lawyer, M, in-house) 5 days emergency leave Flexible working hours Opportunity to talk through and ask for support where needed “furlough” equivalent (at the firm’s expense) where required (Business services, F, Taylor Wessing) They offer voluntary furlough for those needing to focus on childcare, they are incredibly flexible and supportive to all with children allowing them to work around what they need to do to care for their childrens’ schooling and well being. (Business services, F,  Kingsley Napley) They are trailing job share and flexible working for the associates, but I haven’t been offered any additional support (especially during the first lockdown when my child was home. He is at nursery now since it is open). (Lawyer, F, Slaughter and May)
We have a “best endeavours” approach.  So you are not required to take extra leave to look after children.  We have been supportive where people have asked to work part-time/ take additional leave. Some people also asked to go on furlough due to childcare reasons. (Partner, F, Addleshaw Goddard) We have been told that the firm understands the challenges faced and anyone should speak to their line manager about what might suit their own circumstances e.g. flexible working hours. I am not aware of leave and extra resources being offered. Partners have been told not organise meetings at lunchtime and after 5. (Senior associate, F, Dentons) Pretty much nothing. The “policy” allows us to take extra unpaid leave. We were told to approach partners and line managers to discuss. There is flexibility to do different hours but you still need to manage all the work. (Lawyer, F, Freshfields) lockdown leave for half a day every week (for all not just carers/parents), messaging re “do your best” and verbal recognition that productivity will be lower, parents/carers forum for ideas re what the firm can do, additional tech fund money £300 total for devices/additional broadband booster for homeschoolers, client event opened to internal staff aimed at occupying kids for half an hour for drama/dance workshop, flagged that “My Family Care” benefit service does offer 3 days of nanny/carer cover help (not very practical for a multiple week lockdown situation though…) (Lawyer, F,  Stephenson Harwood)
Complete flexibility on working hours, and a guide to working with working parents in the pandemic (Senior associate, M, Bristows) Flexible working but still an expectation to hit targets. (Partner, F, DAC Beachcroft) Effective 1 February 2021, extra leave for parents/carers is an option.  No extra resources have been offered. (Senior associate, M, Norton Rose Fulbright) 5 days’ parental leave on full pay (Senior associate, Ward Hadaway)
A Covid-19 non-chargeable time code for time spent on caring responsibilities, a 4 day week on 80% salary or leave on 50% pay on minimum 4 week blocks. (Senior associate, M, Travers Smith) Offer of taking annual leave and unpaid or parental leave and flexible working ie doing my hours in the evening or reducing my hours. It was made clear any changes would be temporary and would not affect my career. (Senior associate, F, TLT) You can apply to drop hours (and pay).  They originally offered furlough but I think that has now gone.  We are allowed retrospectively to use our holiday to fill holes in our timesheets. (senior associate, F, Herbert Smith Freehills) Extra leave, greater flexibility in terms of time of working. So very impressed that Shoosmiths were the first to announce new working principles this bold – and we’re actually seeing it in action. Genuine comms from the top on extending a hand for help. (Business services, F, Shoosmiths)

What more could firms do?

The message from parents is loud and clear on that one. If a firm is not offering it parents want “extra leave”. If a firm is offering that already, often, parents want “nothing” more.

That’s something of a simplification but it gets to the heart of the matter. Parents need one thing: more time. There is only one way firms can give them more time, and flexible working isn’t it.

Lockdown is – we hope – coming to an end for good soon, but it is never too late. Firms that haven’t already done so would do well to listen to parents’ cries for help and implement a short-term emergency paid leave policy immediately. The goodwill they would win would be probably worth the complications.

Furlough

The government allows furlough for childcare reasons and, after extra paid leave, it was one of the things that respondents called for it most often. Responding to a specific question on the topic, more than half (56 per cent) of those surveyed were in favour of childcare furlough being an option in their own organisations.

While only 16 per cent said they would take it up childcare furlough if offered, once partners are taken out of the equation that number rises significantly, with 18 per cent of senior associates and 37 per cent of lawyers at mid-level or below positive they would like to make use of such a scheme.

What would you like? Other suggestions for what firms could provide for parents

  • “Training for all line managers in ways to support and demonstrate empathy rather than what feels like lip service. Law firms appear to be doing really well off the back of the pandemic and it wouldn’t look good to then reach out to the government for furlough assistance. Also helpful might be a “day in the life of” with multiple people in different work/care situations to help understand just what this has all meant, especially for teams and managers who are in totally different situations on the other side of the world.” – Employee – other role, Ashurst
  • “Some sort of conversation forum where I can go and vent about the ‘joys’ of being in lockdown with a teenager” – Business services, Clyde & Co
  • “A temporary reduction in billing targets, especially for those who are home schooling.” – Senior associate, Eversheds Sutherland
  • “Management of this issue should be at a team or practice head level. More junior resources would assist massively. Also, recognition in terms of pay/appraisal. I do strongly believe that 200 hours a month for working parents/carers requires more considerable work, time and effort than those without childcare responsibilities” – Senior associate, Norton Rose Fulbright
  • “The best help would really be “role-model” setting by people within the firm that childcare responsibilities take precedence to a reasonable degree over work, rather than vice versa. Some partners are good about this (but some are not, I think more because of outdated firm/industry culture, as opposed to them personally), but the firm isn’t that great at proactively promoting this culture I think for fear that it will be seen as overriding “clients come first” – which for any sensible parent isn’t right – it should usually be “kids come first”. Obviously this will mean to some extent that your pay decreases to the extent you can’t commit yourselve as much to billable hours/other firm commitments, which is fair enough. But it should be possible to mix and match this a bit as you go along, rather than being an “all or nothing” culture.” – Senior associate, large international firm
  • “Difficult to say other than alcohol.” – Senior associate, Birketts

Final thoughts

  • “The pressure to be available for clients as well as for the children is draining and unrealistic. The additional pressure of being aware that average utilisation is slipping, yet nothing has been said about revised expectations in this regard, is also stressful and a constant worry. We are fortunate to have some informal childcare support from grandparents (both over 65 and in vulnerable health categories) but there is a feeling of expectation that you will draw on support from family to enable work to be done, rather than that support come from the firm. I am using up annual leave for days I don’t have any help with childcare. The only suggestion made by my supervising partner was to take unpaid leave/temporarily reduce hours, which is not financially viable.” – Senior associate, F, large international firm
  • I think there are a lot of headline grabbers…but extra days leave really mean nothing. 5 extra days holiday isn’t going to cover months worth of homeschooling. I think it is much more comforting to have a supportive team who actively support flexibility and acknowledge the importance of homeschooling/childcare duties. – Partner, F, CMS
  • “I think the position is fairly impossible – it is not possible to do homeschooling with primary age children simultaneously to working a “thinking” job so I end up schooling by day and working by night; this takes a huge toll on my wellbeing and ability to function, degrading both my contributions to work life and family life; however, I don’t wish to turn down work, lose or disappoint clients etc. We are a service business and I am very conscious that if we don’t deliver someone else will. There will also be a marked gender split on this, which I’m not sure you’ve captured. It will be interesting to see if partner promotions in 2022 are affected.”  – Senior associate, F, Eversheds Sutherland
  • “My work were quick to say they were happy for parents to work flexibly (e.g. work early in the morning, late at night to accommodate childcare). That is helpful but no one seems to stop and think that this means you never stop as a parent: you jump from work to kids and back again. There is no down time at all and it’s not sustainable, particularly as the situation persists. Effectively I don’t think my employer lost out because one way or another I did what I was supposed to do for work.  I think my children probably suffered and I definitely did.  There was no time for me to do the things that ought to help (a walk alone, exercise). That said, I had my husband’s support without which I don’t know how I would have survived.” – Senior associate, F, Fieldfisher
  • “I’m not sure it’s just the legal sector, it’s all organisations. First lockdown most employers were understanding, second time around they expect us to work as hard and be as productive as before without all the resources in the office (we have not been supplied with anything at home), and with cuts to staff. Trying to home school at the same time as being expected to be on back-to-back calls & meetings is exhausting.” – General counsel, F, financial services business
  • “The London office of my firm has been all talk but little action.  There is an entire policy document about how understanding they are about working parents but, when you look at the detail, it comes down to the fact that you still need to do the same hours as pre-pandemic unless you negotiate to a change in your arrangements with your manager. The firm don’t now seem to care when you do your hours, which I guess is a massive improvement and has made my life significantly easier but the pressure of working full time and caring for a young family is immense and unsustainable and there is no understanding of that at least in certain pockets of the firm. Anecdotally, I believe our Australian offices are rather better at all this.” – Senior associate, F, Herbert Smith Freehills
  • “I have felt more allowances has been made for people with younger children and the focus is all on home schooling. I understand that – it’s a much bigger time commitment. But supporting teenage children is also difficult – they are struggling with the lack of social interaction, uncertainty over exams, worry about university entrance and so on. My day is really disrupted by breaking when they have breaks/finish school to catch up with them (which is nice but also disruptive). I have toyed with asking to cut my hours but am worried the amount of work wouldn’t actually decrease.” – Senior associate, F, Macfarlanes
  • “The vast majority of partners have older or no children and therefore cannot comprehend that this is, hands down, the most stressful period for parents of primary-aged children.  There really needs to be tangible, practical help such as a reduction in targets without the threat of reduced pay (after all, mortgages aren’t on hold any longer) – the pandemic won’t last forever so this would be a small cost for such a large firm.” – Senior associate, F, Pinsent Masons
  • “Barristers chambers seem to be behind the times when it comes to remote working. Working remotely has proved to be a great success and I am concerned that chambers policy won’t change once the pandemic has eased and we will all be expected to be back in the office five days a week.  There is a real opportunity here for the Bar to promote part-time remote work, the immediate benefits being reduced office space and staff wellbeing. There are no disadvantages as far as I can see.” – Chambers employee, M
  • “There is a huge gulf in what some firms expect when things go back to normal. I think firms who have treated their staff well and have chosen to change permanently will reap the reward of loyalty from their employees.” – Business services, F, Shoosmiths
  • “I’m really glad that I’m a PSL right now. If I were fee earning, I don’t know how I’d have survived. My fee-earning friends have really, really struggled balancing client responsibilities and the extra childcare. The partners have made zero physical accommodations – reallocating work, providing additional leave, etc.” – PSL, F, Slaughter and May
  • “The legal sector has been completely blinkered by concerns about bringing in work and servicing clients which, while entirely valid, have been prioritised above employee wellbeing. My complete inability to be involved in childcare (let alone home schooling) due to partner demands and an excessive workload are negatively impacting my relationship with my husband and children.” – Senior associate, F, Slaughter and May
  • “I think smaller firms are saying the right things but actual support is thin on the ground.  The larger firms seem to have made more strides with offering additional leave, but reduced targets would relieve a lot of pressure and reduce the hours needed to achieve a normal working day.” – Partner, F, Wedlake Bell
  • “The lack of recognition of the unequal burden falling on many of our female lawyers and shrugging of shoulders “oh well, we couldn’t have done anything more” when we have senior women leaving in droves or suffering extreme stress.  To be fair many of the younger generation of men are also frustrated at the lack of flexibility or assistance.” – Partner, F, mid-size firm
  • “It’s been very apparent at our firm that the old, grey, white men who run the firm and make the decisions have no childcare responsibilities themselves. Their expectations of us as fee earners are largely unchanged if not elevated, now that we are not required to commute to and from offices each day. They simply have no understanding of the practical reality of trying to record seven chargeable hours a day with small children in the house all day for significant periods of this pandemic.” – Senior associate, M, regional firm
  • “It is not just home schooling that is difficult – both my children are older (17 and 19) and there is a lot of emotion and mental health issues I am having to deal with which is taking up time and is really important. Having home schooling alone would be a blessing but I think there are other issues that working parents are having to deal with which are more difficult and even less understood by employers. This survey does not acknowledge that.” – Partner, F, large international firm
  • “The first lockdown was a bit of a “we are all in this together” mentality. Now the attitude is “you’ve had a year to sort this out, get on with it”. There is a certain level of sympathy, but nothing concrete, you are just expected to get on with it and meet client demands. I am not sure what accommodations could be made, but the current situation is impossible. Clients still want the work, BD still has to be done, and court deadlines have not changed. I am fire fighting doing the minimum possible and long term strategic or client developments things are being left behind. I have no idea what the impact will be long term. I am also angry as those without children, or those with wives at home (and yes, it is usually men with wives at home) can work at the same pre-pandemic level, while I and others cannot. I feel we are being left behind and i am not sure how that will be taken into account or if we can catch up.” – Partner, F, US law firm
  • “Having left a City law firm in 2013 in order to be get better flexibility around family life, ironically I now realise that many City firms have, since I left, made bigger and better strides in this area than other industries/companies – in other words, when in-house, flexibility around childcare and other family commitments will depend very much on the culture and policies of whichever company you are working for.” General counsel, M, In-house

Webcast: Building your career from home

Associates are invited to sign up for our career clinic live webcast next week, 17 March at 1pm.

In this live web event, our panel of experts will look at the challenges of working from home as a junior lawyer. How can you stay motivated working in your kitchen? What can you do to keep your career moving forward? How can you best manage work and family demands? And how can you ensure you demonstrate all your different attributes and skills to a line manager who isn’t sitting in the same room as you?

Reader questions

On the first day of the survey we offered the chance for readers of The Lawyer to offer their own questions. One reader wanted to know: How have you been managing your childcare responsibilities during the pandemic?

The answer: with great difficulty. A few key themes came though: many people have access to nannies, some have relatives they can call on, but lots of people are winging it.

The number of lawyers who feel they are neglecting their child was significant.

Also notable was the extremely late and unusual hours parents are now being forced to work, with a lack of sleep being a recurring theme. Selected comments are below.

My wife has been caring a heavy share of the burden as she doesn’t work full-time as I do; I help where/when I can. TV, Xbox and snacks. after-school nanny and wine! My teenager is literally just left to get on with it, I just do his lunch, but even then I can’t always
Sharing with partner, multi-tasking, working late at night when children in bed, reducing amount of hours spent on sleep and down time. Working different hours, so from 6.30-8.30am then take my children to school then 9-3pm, or if they are at home 7am – 2pm My husband does as much as he can to help, but his job is more senior and much more meeting heavy Sharing with partner and working different hours. Having to work late nights to make up time missed during the day and getting no down time. Permanently exhausted and stressed
We have an au pair who helps. But my wife and I share supervision with the kids during the schooling hours (our toddler is still able to go to nursery – which is open). I then work deep into the night to compensate with the hours. I have no relaxation time, and weekends are equally gruelling. It feels like I am running a marathon as a sprint. Sharing with partner. When the nursery is shut we work in shifts. One works while the other looks after our two children (6am-1pm/2pm-8pm) its brutal. Everything else (self care, cleaning house, cooking, washing bodies and clothes etc. takes place in the evening or at night- sleep is compromised). We have been ignoring the children, and letting them play/use screens etc as our roles are too demanding to allow any time to home school – we tried it and it was so stressful that it wasn’t worth the small amount the children were learning. Juggling as best I can. My husband tries to help but the nature of his job is that he is essentially on calls all day so he is of limited use during school hours. I work on more documents/advice notes so that tends to wait until the evening/night for me.
Father-in-law joined household and is overseeing home-schooling. Previously, husband and I split our days evenly, half work, half home-school/childcare. A muddle of whatever we can- mostly juggling childcare between me and my husband who is also a full time lawyer (a partner) which basically means working weekends and until 2am most nights. Childcare bubble as my mother was furloughed. My husband was also able to reduce his working time and provide care as he runs his own company whereas my work offered no support in the first lockdown so I had to work. I manage them solely as my husband is a car salesman and goes out to work every day as he has to be in the showroom to sell. I am also have an elderly mother that I have to care for (albeit she does not need full on nursing home style caring)
We have a full-time live-out nanny. The pandemic has not impacted our childcare at all (given that our child is still pre-school and we have been able to keep our nanny throughout). nursery fees are very expensive. I put my youngest in nursery 2.5 days per week and the TV essentially looks after her for other 1.5 days that I am working. Not ideal! My husband does as much as he can to help, but his job is more senior and much more meeting heavy muddling through, delegating to husband who has little enthusiasm or initiative and rotten cooking ability!
I manage by starting work at 04:30/05:00, do half of the home schooling and then work from bath time until midnight. I am very fortunate that my husband is willing and able to meet me half way and pick up half of the childcare responsibilities – other friends and colleagues haven’t got that. We are winging it. I try and work alongside my kids (10 years old) while they study online. So they have company/support when they need it but are largely independent. Outside school work they spend more time on screen than I would like but we have little choice. I work a lot in the evenings/weekends (although I always have). Working different hours, husband staying at home when I have important calls, but he runs his own business so it’s a trade-off. Occasional walks with grand parents but trying not to expose them too much. Generally neglecting the children and they are not completing all their school work. It’s a constant juggling act. My husband has taken on more of a domestic role – food shopping, cooking, etc. I’ve taken on the home schooling role.
first lockdown my ex (who is a teacher) moved back in (HORRENDOUS!!!) so we tag teamed with the childcare/homeschool. this lockdown, the nanny has been able to come (though she is a total muppet and we wouldn’t have picked her if we had been hiring a home educator at the time we chose her!) so we have her a couple of days a week. the ex has them 2 days so I can try to cram in work then. the nanny does 3 days so I can also try to do some work then. I don’t have early mornings/late nights to catch up on work though as have childcare/tea/house to run etc and effectively a single parent as the only adult in my house so all that housekeeping falls to me. so not as bad as it could be but generally pretty stressful. My husband supports a little, but all the pressure was on me (as the mum) to do the bulk and sacrifice my work. My husband is paid x4 my salary so we have to prioritise his work over mine. Our nanny resigned during lock down, and all our family live abroad / far away so we have no childcare bubble. Kids are very happy, we have enjoyed lockdown a lot as we are together more than before, and we are completely agile working flexible hours, having dinner together every day. So there are lots of positives from lock-down and we hope to cling onto them when the offices re-open This time around, my husband and I do two hour shifts in the morning when we are in charge of homeschooling. Our 7 year old daughter requires a great deal of support, the 9 year old less. I do another post-lunch shift before our “after school” nanny arrives for four hours to get the kids out of the house. We then all eat together as a family before putting the kids to bed and then logging on again. My kids have had to fend for themselves while I have worked sometimes in excess of 20 hour days and over the bank holidays (including Christmas and New Year). Sometimes they missed lessons as I was not there to make sure they joined on time. They have not had clean clothes to wear on many occasions as I have been too busy to do the laundry. Our house is generally falling apart and we have no food in the fridge.
I work when my toddler is asleep and my oldest is watching tv in the afternoon. I work when they go to bed and I cook and clean whenever I get the time. My partner does very little Sharing with a partner (who is also an associate at the same firm, so that doesn’t help either of us), working late night hours, intermittent use of a childcare bubble from two 70+ year old grandparents but both of whom are clinically vulnerable so their involvement has been limited. School have been amazing and the kids are online most of the day, so it’s just dealing with printing, submission of work and constant feeding/break times which eat into the working day. We have had to furlough our nanny as she is studying part time for a medical related degree and so is still attending classes, which we were uncomfortable with. We regularly work early mornings and evenings to make up the time lost during the day to looking after the kids Sharing with partner. We are both lawyers, so we have tried to carve-up the working day so that we each get a block of time to work uninterrupted. This is obviously not that straight-forward when phone calls are received, etc. but we’ve tried to work as flexibly as possible. Inevitably it has meant catching up on work early in the morning or late at night.
Constant juggling. Underperforming as both a mother and barrister. We have a full-time live-out nanny. The pandemic has not impacted our childcare at all (given that our child is still pre-school and we have been able to keep our nanny throughout). Sharing with partner. My caring relationship is 50/50 but always has been. Couldn’t have managed my career without a true partner as my co-parent. Shifts with my wife. We each do 2 hours child care and swap and so on.