Trying to fit four full time roles into 24 hrs...

EMMA CONNOLLY Zooms in on some Cork women who are working in all different fields, to see how they’re managing the juggling during the Covid-19 pandemic
Trying to fit four full time roles into 24 hrs...
Leona O’Sullivan-Breen with son Archie and daughter Mabel.

Leona O’Sullivan-Breen, Global Social Media Manager/Content Strategist

at VMware

Working from home is not new for me it’s always been my default. My role is global, so I often have meetings with teams at the other side of the world very early in the morning or late at night. With two small children (Archie, seven, and Mabel, four) having the flexibility to work a blended, albeit long day, from home is invaluable. What is new for me, is working from home while there’s a global pandemic and everyone being here all. the. time.

I’m very lucky to still have a job that I love at this time but there have been many impossible days during lockdown where I feel like I’m doing nothing right. That’s because I’m probably not. Like a lot of women are right now, I’m trying to fit four full time roles into 24 hours — teacher, parent, employee, housekeeper. It’s a lot. Too much. It can feel a bit like a weighted blanket on your back from the moment you wake up, a never ending to-do list with little or no down time. I go from the laptop to laundry to dinner to spelling tests back to laptop without a second to breathe.

I’ve never felt busier or more overwhelmed and have been envious of others who have used the time to slow down. As the weeks have rolled by, I’ve become somewhat better at it and less hard on myself. I dropped unrealistic standards, slowed down and have started appreciating small joys. My husband, who is also working from home, and I have worked through an initially clumsy routine to one that has a little more structure. It’s not perfect but we give each other much needed breaks.

I also think it’s imperative to schedule in down time like you would a work meeting. I’ve added two hours to my calendar every day for a solo walk or morning yoga session and a screen free lunch... seeing it pop up as a reminder helps me to stick to it.

No doubt there will continue to be good days and bad while we figure out this strange new world, but one thing is for sure, whoever develops a socially distant child-care solution will win the Nobel Peace Prize!

Judy Hopkins Partner at integrated marketing communications agency Hopkins Communications
Judy Hopkins Partner at integrated marketing communications agency Hopkins Communications

Judy Hopkins, Partner at integrated marketing communications agency Hopkins Communications, Cork city

Pre-Covid, no two days were the same. I always had a plan and a full diary, from meeting friends and family, to events and networking, to running the family PR and marketing business Hopkins Communications with my brother Mark and our 15- strong team.

Working from home since Monday, March 16, now there are many days that are the same — less variation, but still lots of daily activities. However, the amount of Zoom calls is madness — it’s call after call, where the break, walk or drive in between meetings is no more, with no time to regroup or decompress in between. I’m all Zoomed out!

On the other hand, I now get to spend every day with my gorgeous black Labrador cross - Dave! He’s such a gentle soul and great company, especially for a cuddle.

I’m quite a tactile person and the biggest thing I miss is physically hugging my family and friends, so I’m very thankful for Dave.

Socially, I would have thought I’d find it hard not to have my usual Friday nights out in Cork city, but I have to say, I’m enjoying the down time in that respect. Work is so full on that I tend to switch off from the world anyway on the evenings I don’t have events or work, so it’ s nice to be able to do that more often now — to get some proper balance in life.

Overall, I have certainly taken stock of my life and my goal now is to try and maintain a balance, keep the blood pressure down and the health as my wealth, while continuing on with keeping our business running and growing.

I really am looking forward to a more balanced life and spending more time with family and friends.

Ciara Crossan, Wedding Dates.
Ciara Crossan, Wedding Dates.

Ciara Crossan, Founder and CEO,

Weddings have been so massively affected due to Covid-19, it is a heart-breaking time for couples all over the country and for our venue and supplier clients too and we are trying to support them as much as we can. is an online business so the transition to WFH (working from home) was fairly seamless for me and my team. We all work off laptops and all the software we use is in the cloud so the tech made everything easy initially. We use Cork company for our internal communications and projects and this has really come into its own for us during lockdown.

The big change was not seeing each other and as a team we realised that we needed structure and communication to get us through this extremely challenging time. So, we have a 9.30am daily Zoom call with the full team to check in, chat about what we worked on yesterday and what is on our agenda for the day ahead. It helps keep us all focused and accountable and also encourages collaboration amongst the team. The first few calls went on a bit but we have them down to about 20 minutes now so we are becoming pros!

I have six-year-old twin boys, so when Leo Varadkar announced the schools were closing, I’m sure like a lot of people I panicked initially! I am a single parent so juggling my business and the boys is challenging at the best of times but thankfully my brother had recently relocated home from Mexico and is living with me so he is taking care of the boys while I work from the spare bedroom upstairs.

Ballygarvan National School has been great, sending on regular homework and resources to support us, and we are growing some vegetables out the back garden so the boys are learning plenty of “life lessons”!

This is an incredibly stressful time for so many and while I am working hard to keep my business going, I am also realising that this enforced pause is bringing its own positives and I am trying to use this time to work on the business positioning and strategy to set us up for future success.

Maeve Dennehy Owner of Love Cherish Boutique, Charleville
Maeve Dennehy Owner of Love Cherish Boutique, Charleville

Maeve Dennehy, owner of Love Cherish Boutique, Charleville

It’s ironic really... as I write this, it has been one of those mornings where I have been tempted to jump out the window if I hear “Mommy” one more time… But I live in a bungalow, so it would only buy me a few minute’s peace.

I temporarily closed the doors of my boutique, Love Cherish, on March 13 and signed seven redundancy forms, which was heartbreaking.

I knew immediately that I needed to focus on social media and our online store, to help us through the weeks/months ahead, and ensure we could open our doors again.

I wanted to try and keep positive and decided to do a daily “lockdown dress up” from home every day to show summer occasion wear and try to reassure people that we will have occasions again.

However, with an 18-month-old little girl, Molly, and a two-and-a-half year old boy, Ned, trying on dresses and taking photographs was challenging to say the least! Molly featured in a few, when I gave up trying to get her to not swing off my leg. Along with this, I’ve been trying to manage stock by getting in some casuals, suitable for the current situation, trying to review future orders, and keeping a strong presence on social media.

We didn’t send out any orders for the first two weeks of lockdown, and it turned out to be our busiest two weeks ever online. To try and get these orders processed, without childcare, and a husband who works in medical supplies, it meant a lot of juggling, and literally passing each other in the hall. Stephen went in early mornings, and I went in when he got home at lunch. The Mom guilt then made me come home at around 4pm until they went to bed at 7pm, and then back in-store to pack orders for the evening.

Things have now settled a little, as two staff members are back, and I think suppliers are getting used to listening to the kids and Paw Patrol in the background.

I look forward to having childcare, and help from grandparents again, but I have to admit that I do feel this has taught me that I’ll never get this time back with the kids, and hopefully I’ll figure out a better work/life balance when things get back to “normal”, whatever/whenever that is.

Actor Ciarán Hinds and Jean Kearney, Kearney Melia Barker .
Actor Ciarán Hinds and Jean Kearney, Kearney Melia Barker .

Jean Kearney, partner in a public relations company, Kearney Melia Barker Communications, Cork city 

We have been in operation for close to 30 years now and these past 80 or so days (who’s counting?) have certainly thrown up interesting challenges.

While a lot of the projects and events we were working on have been postponed or cancelled, I have been astonished at how inventive and adaptable people have been in general.

I am fortunate in that I live in the city so have access to good broadband, which, of course, means that I’ve been able to continue with most of my day-to-day work.

My computer skills would have been relatively basic pre Covid-19, but it’s amazing how quickly one can learn when there’s nobody nearby to ask about, or sort, various issues!

I found it really difficult in the first few weeks to get in to any kind of routine and there were many panicked moments as various clients got in touch with news of cancellations of planned events — some of which we’d been working on for a long time.

Planning for some of the festivals we were working on would have started more than a year ago.

Planned stage productions would sometimes be in the pipelines for years. Conferences could have been arranged many years in advance, particularly ones that go to a different location each year.

While, for lots of events, staging them is simply not possible with the restrictions that are in place, more and more, people are starting to come up with brilliant solutions.

Artists are showcasing materials online, musicians are streaming gigs online, and some festivals are creating virtual events.

Zoom meetings have become the norm and I have found that just recently, people are starting to look to the future again.

Personally, I think it must be incredibly difficult for those with young children or teenagers who are expected to work from home AND provide homecare AND home-school.

I think that I’m one of the fortunate ones in that while many clients have had to draw back, they are still full of new ideas and plans and keeping me busy.

I have also been very lucky in that my family are all safe and well and I have some great friends who I’ve been talking to regularly.

On a lighter note, I am very much looking forward to going out to the theatre or the cinema, going in to a pub for a drink, going to a restaurant or heading off to West Cork for the weekend.

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