Emma shares more of her thoughts from Lockdown

As with the last of these blogs, I just wanted to say acknowledge that everyone is going through some hardship in these most extraordinary of times.  Many families (too many to comprehend) are now suffering the horrors of a loved one taken too soon, as a direct result of the pandemic.  Having experienced the depths of the grief of untimely death in my own life more than once, the thought of it makes me feel quite sick and my heart and my prayers go out to each and every person suffering at this time.

My family remain safe and well and I am incredibly grateful for that.

I don’t want any of what follows to in any way to trivialise the enormity of what we as a society are facing, but I also wanted to be really honest about my experiences.

The Positives

Having extra time with my son is just lovely.  I get to work really hard but spend a portion of the day playing with the paddling pool, ‘mudding’ in the garden or some such other fun!

I like having more time with my husband Gareth.  Even though one or other of us is working some of the time, the time is punctuated with mealtimes together, or making a cup of tea for the other one, or desperately hoping that Gareth isn’t on an important call when Seth and I get stuck in a tricky situation where another pair of hands would help (we’ve been potty training – I will say no more).

Life is definitely simpler, and I like it.  Whilst there is lots that I miss (my family, my dear friends and Wednesday night yoga) I am reflecting on what I don’t miss from BC (Before Covid).  At the times in my life where there has been some silence and a lengthier than usual retreat from normal life what has followed has always been a desire to create something and a life that feels fresh, new and different in some way.  I feel that there is an awful lot to look forward to when we emerge from the other side of this.

For the first time in over 3 years, I have started running regularly, first thing in the morning (when I say running, please imagine a laboured, awkward looking shuffle rather than anything resembling Mo Farah).  Not in a fitbit, personal best, how fast, how far type way.  But more in a, where can I go, what can I see, how do I feel type way.  I’ve discovered new roads and new places (hello, Boiling Wells).  I’ve found myself drawn to some of my favourite Bristol sights (the suspension bridge being one of them).  It gets me out of the house and for a while I feel completely free.  I always experience something different and this morning’s discovery was a feast for the eyes.  The wind is quite strong, and it has blown mountains of pink blossom off the trees lining Whiteladies Road.  It has gathered in the crevice between pavement and road and it looks unreal.  Like something a party planner would have created out of synthetic material except its completely natural.  What a treat!

The impacts on me

Two parents working at home with a toddler to care for is much harder than I think Gareth or I had imagined.  Not enough hours in the day has taken on a whole new meaning for us.  What we thought would be achievable, isn’t really.  Back to the drawing board for us on how to make this work.  Thankfully we have some ideas. 

Life has changed, at least for now and in some ways, no doubt, forever.

There’s the fear.  I am scared for my elderly family members, my more vulnerable loved ones.  I am scared for my auntie who works in a hospital and gets assigned at random to the Coronavirus ward.  Although she tells me it’s not so bad working there.

And there’s the sadness.  I’ve already talked about that at the start of this blog. 

We are living with a new level of fear and a new level of sadness.  I try not to become overwhelmed by these things and instead, to focus on the love that I have for my family and friends and the new opportunities that lie ahead.  But I have those days when it is too much to bear.

The impacts on our clients

Our clients are adapting and finding new ways to cope.  It has been great to witness the remarkable positivity, adaptability and strength of the family businesses that we work with.

Whilst some client projects are on hold, those families that were already in the middle of a consultancy process are continuing and we are finding new ways to be helpful and to work with our clients. 

We are facilitating meetings, purely through video conferencing.  We are preparing to facilitate family council meetings in the same way and working on strategies to compensate for the fact that we are not in the room, through, amongst other things, more preparation, more prep work for the families involved and more structure. 

We are also finding that, via technology, we can be helpful to family businesses even further afield.  A couple of us at FBC will be speaking at the African Family Firms FB21 Global Online Conference happening during the month of May.  Running a live workshop entirely from the comfort of my spare bedroom / home office hybrid will be a first for me!  The reach of the conference is incredible, with hundreds of family business owners signed up to the free conference.

Final thoughts

My three year old’s language is just developing and what we as a society are experiencing keeps tumbling out of his mouth.  He used to talk about ‘facing’ his grandparents, but he’s developed this into ‘facetime’ during the last week.  When they don’t answer, he says ‘so and so isn’t available’!  He asks whether grandad is going to send a link (for zoom).  This, for me, is a very real reflection of the rate of change in our everyday lives.

My heart and my thoughts go out to all of those that are suffering at this time.  As a society, we can and must find ways to pull together and offer whatever we can to help each other.  At FBC we are offering our time.  If you need to speak to us, you can, just pick up the phone.

Stay safe and well and take good care of your loved ones (I know that you will).