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At full speed into 2020
Parents empower parents. This is how we started in January. The Living Room Lectures sessions about modern working models were a huge success: Lucia and Florian Ries, a married couple, talked about their jobsharing model at the German Embassy in Budapest. With Edina Törö we discussed about working culture and modern working models in Hungary. And Katrin Wächter dived deep with us into the life of a digital nomad and virtual assistant. Super informative and inspiring sessions and lots of networking in Anna’s and Arabell’s living rooms and the living room The Marriott Budapest created for us.
Lots of more cool topics all around digitalization and working were about to come: design thinking, artificial intelligence, bots, driverless cars, building businesses around sustainability …. Our first call for lecturers from parents for the parents was quite a success.
Our new year implied new footprints: our Homepage was online! One more digital footprint in social media space as we’ve had started our Facebook account just recently in December 2019. And last but not least did we got featured in the Budapester Zeitung with a fantastic article!
Honestly, there could not have been a better start into 2020. If we would have known what was about to come …
Now or never
So often did we talk about creating a digital living room for our community but we really couldn’t think of how to integrate babysitting into the digital world. And how would it look like? How to integrate the exchange and the personal interaction?
This was when, beginning of January, my rollercoaster ride for this year began: I just found out I was pregnant – again! Quite far already and it was for sure that in August there would be a new baby in town. I heard the clock ticking, countdown on having some working time before the baby would be born was running down. This was when I read somewhere “what would be the cost of not investing right now?” And so, I said to myself – it’s now or never, searched for programs of how to build up online businesses and found myself in the middle of the night, two minutes before the doors to SOMBA closed and joined in Sigrun’s 12 months online program. Without any precise picture in mind but very determined to start building our digital living room. Trial and error. And so I found myself in the middle of SOMBA Kickstart program developing, organizing and advertising my very first online course. Having a buddy who’s exactly in same situation helped a lot. Together with Stephanie and my friend Anna I brainstormed, structured, tried out, threw out, assembled one puzzle piece on another until finally “Rescue your inner superhero – How to stay balanced and keep calm” was born. And my wonderful friend and Co-Founder Arabell illustrated our very personal superheroine surfing the turbulent daily family chaos waves with ease and fun for that course. Wohoo, this was really stepping out of my comfort zone, over and over again. What a great experience running this beta-course with fantastic 33 participants from 8 nationalities – and a huge learning curve for myself. My mind was blown away by the feedback. But I just felt that this online course thing alone simply could not compare to the kind of digital living room we had in mind.
At full speed into a brick wall
As for so many people and organizations, the pandemic caught us red-handed. The year started so well. More and more parents and their kids were joining the LRL sessions. The energy was so inspiring and catching. We had big plans to finally start professionally: we developed business plans, business model canvas, value proposition canvas for The Living Room Lectures. We took legal advice about the best way for a legal formation in Germany AND Hungary. But how to travel to Germany in full lockdown? And for what reason would you found a company when the basis breaks off? At the end, full stop.
Nevertheless the spirit remained. With every social meeting stopped and our focus on re-structuring the new personal family and working settings with very limited time resources, we organized in nightshifts our own LRL-learning platform. And with the help of our amazing international community, we started the community driven online course “The Living Room Lectures@home Edition C-19”. Again a huge thanks to Anna Miller who shared her experiences how to live with the Virus in China, to Sonja Schuster who provided short mind hacks to get easier through the days and to Carina Laubscher who shared some relaxing yoga. Short but inspirational, informational and/or relaxing lectures how to keep your balance in these extraordinary days. And self-paced, so it perfectly fits in the turbulent daily family life. Also here, we learned our lesson: Even with very limited time budget, next time we need to offer virtual weekly guidance in online courses – doesn’t matter if self-paced or not.
When a tiny little virus comes around… or two or three
When Hungary went into Corona Lockdown in March I felt like being already in lockdown for another month as my two toddlers were ill for almost whole February and part of January. In the middle of “Rescue your inner superhero”. Here’s what I learned during that time: working. with toddlers. at home. is. simply. not. possible! And as I did not want to “park” them for hours in front of Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, Bobo or Fireman Sam, I prepared the course content and shoot the video parts when the boys were sleeping. Meaning working nightshifts starting mostly around 22:00 hrs. Followed by my daily “night party” with my youngest twice or three times a night and the boys’ wake up call around 6:30…. I’m really not a make up girl but that time my face cried for some good make up to cover all the profound marks of total exhaustion and sleepless nights. Nothing to do with what I taught in the course myself.
Welcome back into the 50s
Tough start into Lockdown but lesson learned? Now being in Lockdown it really felt as if I was thrown back into the 50s. Me – an educated supposed modern woman with academic background and former HR director position in her best age! How on earth did that happen? My husband got lost behind the laptop and millions of conference calls. And I? I was still on maternity leave of Nr.2 and pregnant with Nr. 3. So, it was my turn to deal solely with housekeeping, cooking, home kindergardening … And I must admit I really hate housekeeping. The house looked like …. well… At least nobody cared as we could not receive visitors. This total focus on kids and house and total loss of self-determination took me very hard. I can adapt easily to new situations but from time to time everyone needs a break to recharge their batteries. Deficits and a lot of emotions were put on the table, we had to reorganize and negotiate everything new. As working at home with the children did not work for me, I headed for two or three hours a week to a nearby café with good WiFi where I could sit outside even almost freezing to death. 😉 Thank god, summer came fast.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my children to bits. And I never experienced such an intensive family time as in the first months of the pandemic. We created worlds of our own. Painted, danced, made a lot of arts and crafts, built castles, fought against sharks and pirates, turned into all kinds of dinosaurs, jumped into water holes in the park … We made the best out of it, laughed a lot and as a family we really grew stronger. But never again do I want to feel so reduced of being “only” a housewife! This was not me!
My belly got bigger and my radius of movement became more and more limited. As I suffered from lots of early contractions I slowly became nervious if we could really head north to my parents place in Germany or not. Due date was in August and being this the hottest time of the year in Budapest I wanted to deliver in the north of Germany. End of June we got my Doctor’s “GO” and we finally headed north into the holidays we were so long longing for. We visited family and friends along our trip north before arriving at our final summer destination: grandparents, a huge garden and the Baltic sea in front of the door. And this was how we spent almost three months. My husband working remote and enjoying holidays in between, the boys enjoying their paradise, their grandparents available 24/7 and just waiting for them to play with and me finally focussing on the baby and myself. The days went by. Summer showed itself by its best side. And I used the time to reflect the past months and read a lot of books something I did not do for years. Time to breathe.
New baby in town
If I look back at 2020 many things happened and only one – one totally unexpected, heartfilling, special one outshines everything: the arrival of our third child. There are no words for it – just overwhelming feelings. Our big surprise in January and the big joy when he was finally born. The caring and loving way my two toddlers accompanied the pregnancy and see them becoming big brothers afterwards, how they loved their little brother from the first moment they looked at him. How Nr. 3 was already part of the family even before he has been born. Beyond words. We felt complete.
The second wave
Reality entered our summer paradise August 29th and ended our time at the sea abruptly: Hungary declared to close borders within the next three days. An entry afterwards would have been only possible with 14 days of quarantine. Just the thought of it: a total nightmare for all of us after almost three months spent mostly outside. So, bags packed overnight and the next morning we sat in the car with two toddlers and a 2-week-old new born heading towards Budapest, including a rockfall incident which made us think of life’s finiteness.
Trapped in the mummy bubble – again
And there we were, back again, after an emotionally tough and hard landing for all of us. Thrown out of the summer paradise, back to our normal course of life of home-everything – except nursery and kindergarden remained open. But not only us, also the kids had a hard time emotionally arriving. Especially our second one struggled a lot adapting to the new family setting and therefore refused to go to nursery for a few weeks. And I? It suddenly felt as if everything I gained and worked for the last two and a half years were lost -now more than ever. I wanted everything: happy children, happy partner, me(=working)-time, revival of the LRL sessions, clean house. In the middle of social distancing and Corona, with children refusing kindergarden and looking for their new role in this new family setting and a Baby around me 24/7.
I was exhausted, very honestly sleepless in Budapest. Six weeks after giving birth I felt so trapped in the mummy bubble – again. Something I thought I would have overcome. But no, it came back to me like a boomerang. Next baby – bang! Here we are again. And no LRL sessions to organize to “rescue” my sanity.
Things needed to change. During summertime I thought a lot about what drives me and gives me purpose. And I can honestly say, it is still it: empower parents to contribute their value into society and the labour market with confidence and motivation – without tearing themselves apart. My heart beats for HR and for being a mother – and hell yes! They fit perfectly together! Parents are of such a high value for companies and building this bridge between them and the labour market triggers me immense. So, here I was beginning of October having on the one hand this profound urge to restart right now with building this bridge but no tranquility and no proper me time and on the other hand this foremost emotional imbalance in the family setting for the children which cost everyone lots of energy.
I felt that my family, my children needed my full attention. So I tried to put myself in my childrens’ shoes and as a consequence I focussed on family first to get everyone on board with a good feeling. I even looked for support to improve communication among us. And after everything would be settled at home I would in a second step focus on the LRL comeback. Pressure can be very productive but sometimes you need to release air to avoid explosions and get back on track.
New year. New challenges. My outlook for 2021
The Living Room Lectures Blog
Me and writing? Well, if anyone would have told me in January that I would start writing a blog, I would have laughed very hard at them. I’m really not a big writer. I’m more a person for direct personal interaction. But I love challenges! So this is Me stepping out (again) of my comfort zone starting to write about what really triggers me, about that kind of humans who experience fundamental change in their life, their perspective towards themselves, partnership, employers’ behaviour and how society treat them – just by becoming parents.
Et voilà: here it is – my very first blog post!
Time to shine
Since Arabell and me founded The Living Room Lectures initiative two years ago, the LRL sessions focussed on breaking the mummy bubble, learning, inspiring, showing new perspectives and returning self-confidence. This year we got hit, swirled up and split by the tiny big “C”. 2021, it’s time to come back and continue building the bridge between parents who are temporarily out of their job for whatever reason and great employers. I want to show that parents are an underestimated workforce with high potential, competencies and capabilities which stay hidden or unseen by future or current employers. I want to make them visible, available and usable to bring value to both parties.
How I will do it? Let’s set sail and join me on my learning journey on how to hack a parents’ life to shape the business world and through that our society – here on the blog or on social media (instagram, facebook, linkedin). Let’s join forces, get to know each other, try out new things, fail, stand up and try again.
And whatever may happen, after this year I will always expect the unexpected.