Last weekend I managed to stress myself out. A remote court hearing was coming up, which would last all day, that I needed to cover. But it wasn't the possibility of accidentally leaving my microphone and video on that was causing more of my hair to turn grey. It was the thought that I would need to follow the proceedings whilst, at the same time, look after and home school my child.
I've managed to come up with a daily routine that allows me to juggle being a full-time hack, mum and teacher.
Covering a remote hearing messes up that routine. Breakfast will have to be done by a certain time. I won't be able to help with school work and answer questions whilst I'm listening to cross-examination. My frantically prepared sandwich will have to be eaten in front of my laptop, not the TV whilst child and I watch an old episode of Junior Bake Off together. PE with Joe Wicks will have to wait until the hearing has finished for the day.
This may not sound like a big deal to some of you. But it is a big deal to me because mini-Moni (and I have permission to say this) has been really struggling with lockdown. The daily routine, being able to talk to me, ask me questions, helps.
So, there I was, getting myself worked up. But at the same time, I thought to myself: ‘I’m just observing, how are lawyers able to do this?’
5 Pump Court barrister Craig Richardson, who has a young daughter, had finished two hearings just before I called him (mini-Moni was sat near me sobbing throughout the whole call after getting a stern telling off about something). Richardson says hearings have been difficult to arrange ‘because your child has their own schedule and does not sleep as often as you would like them to sleep’.
Elaine Flynn, a family law solicitor, told me she got a call out of the blue for an urgent hearing whilst mid Ruth Miskin (a school portal). ‘I explained I was not hearing ready but could be in 15 minutes and this was allowed. I offered my apologies when the hearing commenced, and the judge said there was no need to do so as he was sympathetic to the unusual circumstances we are in and the call had been unscheduled. I felt rushed but was thankfully prepared, and I had someone at home to take over with my two young children.’
Juggling the demands of work and children was tough enough when nurseries and schools were open.
Depending on when you read this, I’m either at or was at court. I told my child if they need urgent help with something while I am listening to proceedings, to scribble it on a notepad. But nothing along the lines of ‘Mum, can you help me use the digits 1-9 to make two 4-digit numbers and subtract one from the other? I can only use each digit once and have to get to as close as 2000 as possible’. (We managed to get to 2151).