A baby, a toddler and no village – Arnott’s marketing manager Kate Wright on deleting social media, surviving and new leadership
What happens when you spend 2020 at home with a baby and a toddler and a virus that stopped village life? For Arnott’s Group Marketing Manager Kate Wright, it was reality. Here’s her personal account about the darkest of days and what she learnt about deleting social media apps, herself, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and leadership.
Not quite babies and romance
In early 2020 I eagerly gathered with my teammates around a spread of morning tea treats and celebrated my last day in the office before I set off for the birth of my second child and imminent parental leave.
Through romanticised glasses, I dreamt of idyllic summer days spent at the park, coffee-fuelled gatherings with my parents’ group and taking interstate trips to visit family and friends.
Along with the rest of the world, my reality of 2020 was a far cry from what I had imagined.
Parenting is hard without your people. I craved my family and friends – someone to have a cuppa with, someone to hug and someone to take the baby so I could go to the bathroom alone.
In the darkest of days when I would hide in the bathroom unable to negotiate with my toddler or stop my newborn from crying, I would draft emails to my Manager asking if I could return to work. And whilst up feeding in the middle of the night, I would look to my social media channels for support…instead I was bombarded with well-intentioned influencers telling me to seize the day or make the most of this ‘opportunity.’
Opportunity?! I was terrified!
After a while, I realised the bathroom wasn’t the best place to hide and some things needed to change. I decided to go on a therapeutic deletion spree removing apps from my phone (yes, social media was the first to go) and I had some tough conversation with myself about the type of parent I was going to be to survive this crazy new world.
I learnt that all my daughters really cared about was being with me. They didn’t care that the local café wasn’t open or that we couldn’t access the local park. They just wanted my time. So, we got creative – art studio in the kitchen, playdough in the bathroom and daily walks around the block counting bears in the neighbours’ windows.
In the darkest of days…I would look to my social media channels for support…instead I was bombarded with well-intentioned influencers telling me to seize the day or make the most of this ‘opportunity’.
What I learnt about leadership…
With limited apps now on my phone, ABC News became my source for Covid updates, and I would watch as global leaders approached the pandemic in very different ways.
Amid the ambiguity, I began to see what true leadership looks like. It was those people who in a time of crisis, had the ability to demonstrate both decisiveness and show empathy. For me, the epitome of this was Jacinda Ardern. She navigated tough conversations with authenticity and showed us that kindness is a leadership strength -
“I’m proudly an empathetic and compassionate leader. I am trying to chart a different path, and that will attract criticism, but I can only be true to myself and the form of leadership I believe in.” – Jacinda Ardern.
I found myself eager to learn more about her approach to leadership particularly as I started to think about my return to work.
What I learnt about returning to work…
By the end of 2020, it was time to wrap up my parental leave and it was with a heavy heart that I planned for my return to work. Whilst there were tough days, I was fortunate to spend time with my daughters and thanks to Covid, I learnt more about myself as an individual, a parent and leader than I had ever before.
Now I am back in the office and whilst I definitely have some catching up to do on the technology front, I know that if I can entertain two children without a village, I can definitely adapt to the changes of a covid workplace.
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