The upside of COVID-19 and WFH - Managing two careers in a relationship

Paul Rushton
By Paul Rushton | 6 November 2020
Paul Rushton

Paul Rushton, WPP AUNZ CFO – Public Relations, Government Relations, Experiential & Design

Let’s go back to February 2020

7am … I feel like I’ve done a full day’s work already! Two kids up, dressed, breakfast in their bellies, teeth brushed, lunches made and school bags packed. And that’s just the kids. My husband and I have both showered, ironed our clothes, dressed and the 4 of us are out of the door ready for another day in the office/at school.

4pm … Another day in the office done. Have put out a few impromptu fires, attended numerous meetings, analysed and talked about the numbers and eaten copious red frogs. Oh and in between, enjoyed a cup of tea or ten and soup for lunch (I’m a creature of habit!)

5pm … just in the last hour, I’ve run to the train station, hopped on a bus, collected both kids (from two different schools), walked up the hill with my man bag two school bags, plus the kids in tow, and we’ve made it home in one piece ready for to cook dinner, bathe the kids and put them to bed.

7pm … the kids are in bed. The husband and I are exhausted but I’m ready to log back on to finish the work day before I get a chance to unwind.

But now let’s fast forward to November 2020

I still need to wake my kids up, get their breakfast, make their lunches and take them to school. I still need to put out those impromptu fires, eat those frogs and analyse those numbers. So what’s changed?

Apart from the dining room table being transformed into my new desk, and meetings done via teams, it’s me who has changed.

I’ve transformed from a leader who was starting to doubt if I could have it all to one that realises I can have it all and what’s more I’m a better leader for it. What do I mean? I mean I can successfully be a leader married to another leader. A marriage of two people who both have a serious career, who both manage big jobs, and who both have two great kids and want to be the best parents they can be. I fully acknowledge it’s hard to have it all and neither of us want to be one of those parents, whose child always said “Daddy, why are you always working?”, but 2020 has proved it is possible.

So with COVID-19 my day still throws the same challenges at me…but it’s different. I can put on a load of washing on in between meetings, I can use my office commute time to exercise and be around more for my kids. I’m not always in a rush, life has slowed to a more manageable pace.

And my work has not suffered in fact my career has blossomed. I’m more focused. I’m a better leader. I’m a better parent.

So 2020 has taught me that I can have it all – I can be a leader with a big job, married to another leader with a big job and being the best version of the parent I always wanted to be.

And all with no more guilt of trying to juggle work and family at the same time.

COVID-19 you do have a bright side after all.