As the Government makes a call for us all to gradually return to work, my children have other ideas.
My eight-year-old and five-year-old have got used to me sitting upstairs in the loft bedroom – they don't see me all day but it is more than "normal" and they just know I am up there.
Over the last few weeks I have popped into the office for a few days here and there. This week I have managed three days in a pre-holiday rush to get work done. But the children don't understand. "Why are you going to work? How long will you be? Why don't you call them on the computer?" are their usual queries. And on Tuesday a tearful five-year-old was left hanging off the garden gate as I tripped off down the street, rucksack on my back.
For me, going to the office is fast becoming my not-so-guilty pleasure. What's not to like – I get to have wonderful conversations in person. Sometimes they last just a few seconds, in passing, but we can't do that on Zoom. I can even sit at a full-sized desk with a comfortable chair! Above all it has broken the "groundhog day" existence that home working five days a week had become. And I feel safe. Of course it is not as safe as sitting in my daughter's bedroom but I do feel safe.
Don't get me wrong, my lockdown life has been relatively easy. Mercifully none of my loved ones have fallen ill and my husband was prepared to take the slack on home schooling. He claims he is "a poor supply teacher in a school that has just been put into special measures" but I know that is not the case. I could hear the laughter (and the tears) from upstairs.
Listening to my colleagues on a Russell-Cooke Working Parent Group call this week was a lesson in resilience and commitment. The stories they told of how they juggled, coped, cried, failed and hid behind the garage to escape were awe-inspiring. Everyone's story is different but those working parents are an amazing bunch of people for whom a day in the office would be light relief but for most it is not yet practical.
When I return from our staycation I will be ready to create my own new normal. I doubt it will be five days a week in the office, but it will be the best of both worlds. I just need to find a new normal for my children too.