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Dan

For much of the initial weeks of trying to manage the new work from home day to day, I found myself feeling guilty. I felt I wasn’t able to support my wife (who’s role has reduced since the gallery she is marketing manager for closed to the public) more. I found it difficult to balance getting work done from a table in our bedroom with helping out with our daughter, Tilly. It all felt overwhelming and when I was helping with her, it felt – horribly – like an additional chore.

A couple of weeks ago I was reminded of a story my wife had told me from her maternity leave: The first few weeks and months (even years in some cases) are hugely stressful and the sleepless nights incredibly tiring for new parents. Often this makes the mid-night feeds, 4am wake ups and multi-hour walks while trying to get them to sleep feel like a never ending list of chores. While the lack of sleep doesn’t change, changing how the actions and events are viewed, can have a profound effect. My wife talked about how she changed her mentality from “having to [get up in the night]” to “getting to [be up in the night together]”.

I loved this mentality at the time and being reminded of it now has made me try to think similarly: rather than “I have to balance work and looking after Tilly”, I’m now focussing on the opportunity “I get to have a cuddle on break times” (far nicer than the lack of cuddles I get in the office) and “I get to have lunch together with my girls”. It hasn’t reduced the workload, but the mindset shift has definitely helped balance my mental health.

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