Pie comes into view on the screen, a baby strapped to his front. “Long time no speak Pie, look, you’ve had another child since I saw you last! In my head your first one is only about 9-days old.” As I say that a little face pops into view, all curly hair and loud voice telling me about how she’s playing with colours. “No no, she’s chatting away. She’s a little handful actually.”
“This one,” he says, pointing to the sleeping baby on his chest, “she’s…” he searches for a word, “quiet. Completely quiet,” he finishes, with a look of relief.
“I haven’t done as much as I want to do in lockdown. Little kids, especially her age—two—need constant, constant attention. You have to constantly be thinking of creative things to do to occupy them. Today we went shopping for the kitchen,” he smiles and pans the camera around to show me a kids toy kitchen. “We walked around the house, collected a load of food, walked across the road, that kind of thing.”
I smile. I remember my niece wanting me to play shops all the time at that age.
“I could do loads of jobs in the house but with the little one around and a baby, I’m just juggling kids all the time. They can’t get involved because they’d end up covered in fence paint or something.”
He’s still working, but able to be flexible with his days. “I’ve enjoyed having the ‘time off’. I’ve been working since I was 17—since I left school—and I never went to University so never had any time off like this; it’s nice to actually have a break for a bit. Although the days do tend to blur into one.”
I asked if there’s been any particular highlights during lockdown.
“Spending time with the kids. Normally, with work, I leave the house by 6:30am in the morning and I’m home at 6pm at night. Amelia’s bedtime at 7 means I only get an hour a night with her usually. Working from home has been really nice, because I can help with childcare during the day if needed and fit work around it.”
He hopes there might be a change in working from home after lockdown. “Hopefully it’ll show that people can be trusted to work from home. We’ll have to see.”
“It’s a crazy situation. Our whole country has just stopped. One day we’re all working, the next day we’re all at home. It’s surprising how much people can adapt to change though. It makes you realise that you don’t need much to actually get by. ” He emphasises need. “You don’t need many material things or fancy restaurants.”
Would he want to stay like that though?
“To be honest, it hasn’t been too bad. When I really think about it, it hasn’t been too bad,” he says with a slight West Midlands twang, and I get a pang of nostalgia for the UK.
“It has it’s hard points. Spending so much time with the kids is mentally and physically draining. But going back to work is going to be hard; my commute is about two and a half hours a day and I’m dreading it. I want to work smarter not harder. Less hours. It’s something in the future I need to aim for. Because of this lockdown, I’ve realised I want to spend more time at home, more time with the kids and working less. Time is priceless. You can’t get it back, can you?”