What's been your biggest challenge working from home?
Juggling work and family without my network – our large, loving, extended family – around us. Especially not having the grandparents come over to spend time with the kids.
The tweet that brought Dr Kingsley’s new and much extended network together.
What has pleasantly surprised you about working from home?
The positive bond we’re creating as a family outside of work – and the strength to say ‘no’ to other things in order to prioritise that bonding time.
How are you staying connected with Swinburne and your colleagues?
Regular catch up with colleagues, mentors and research teams has kept me connected.
Early in lockdown I felt overwhelmed. There was too much going on at work, and the bigger picture in higher education meant there were job losses across the sector and Swinburne staff were taking contribution leave (fewer hours, less pay but not a permanent change). The pressures of online learning also got a bit much and I had a bout of panic.
A new and extended support network was created after Dr Kingsley tweeted about his overwhelm.
Knowing others in my network were going through similar challenges, I shared this event on Twitter, thinking it would just reach a few of my colleagues. Instead, I had responses from across the globe from people who were feeling similarly.
My Swinburne colleagues called and checked on me straight away. Professors and heads of departments shared similar challenges, understood what I was going through and gave me much support.
I felt I had to say something, and then I realised just how much support there was: at Swinburne and globally. People I had never met before said ‘this resonates with me’. The support network created by speaking was incredible.
We’re all at different stages mentally and emotionally. I shifted my mentality in a very positive way by taking this one action.
How do you switch off from work?
Gardening is my therapy. I’ve played around with different forms of gardening all my life and love to give my kids the feeling of watching something growing from the earth.
We also have a kelpie who keeps us busy, and my kids love to dance. They do a performance for us every night. All those endorphins being released: their happiness often rubs off on us!
From little things, big things grow – using gardening as a place to teach, learn and unwind.
What are your lockdown recommendations?
We use a combination of streaming and free-to-air TV series mostly. Rake, Handmaid’s Tale, Call the Midwife, Mindhunter, Sex Education, Grace and Frankie, The Fall. The quality of TV shows now is fantastic across genres. That’s our wind down time.
Have you stocked up on anything?
Coffee and Lego (for us and the kids).
Who is in your family at home?
My partner Marissa, our five-year-old daughter Mietta, three-year-old son, Marlow, and our kelpie, Bobby.
What is your best tip for managing the ‘new normal’?
Be kind to yourself, and to your colleagues. Check in on them and be honest, because we’re not dealing with normal circumstances. The trap the first time around was trying to do what was normal, but in an online environment. It’s not the same and there are opportunities to be innovate and do things differently in all areas of your life.
We need to be supportive of each other to maintain high standard of work, but we don’t need to do ALL the activities which were expected before COVID-19.
Students have also needed our support. A weekend extension may help, but more important is to have open conversations about the options available rather than students expecting they can do everything as normal as well.
Supporting the Swinburne community
Swinburne supports R U OK? Day and provides a range of resources, services and opportunities to help students and staff connect and look after their mental health and wellbeing.
If you need support, please call: