Find your rainbow on Blue Monday

Blue Monday

Timma Marett

We're bracing ourselves for this year's Blue Monday on 18th January. Timma chatted with Juliet Turnbull, CEO and Founder of 2to3days about how she's coping with lockdown#3, homeschooling and running a business.

Q: What is Blue Monday?

It’s supposed to be the saddest day of the year. In normal times, it referred to the overwhelming combination of short, dark days, post Christmas credit card bills hitting doormats, rising guilt over festive indulgences and the withering of New Year’s resolutions. 

And Blue Monday 2021? Well, there’s no denying it is brutally tough. Avoiding social media on Monday might be the wisest thing you’ve ever done. You know how you’re feeling absolutely fine, start scrolling your social media feeds and within minutes you are persuaded to feel absolutely dreadful? Better to stay off it and keep your mojo flowing without outside influences pushing you off course.

My husband describes it as Groundhog Day. We’re all feeling stuck in a cycle, we’re not stimulated enough socially and we’re withdrawing into ourselves. There’s no escaping the inevitable strains of family life when you’re cooped up with the same people day in, day out. 

Q: What have you been doing to break the cycle?

I’ve started distributing food to homeless people. I knew I had to get out of myself, to get perspective and boy, does it give you that. We hand out hot food and a piece of fruit at night and it’s totally heartbreaking. Some of our visitors come back for two or three meals because it’s the only hot meal they will eat that week. Bear it mind it’s January, it’s freezing. I realise how lucky I am and I am grateful for that.

Q: What are your coping strategies?

As women we cradle so much. We absorb the emotional burden from our children. It is hidden labour but our role as sponges for all this drama is what keeps a family going. We suck it up and we feel it, viscerally. It’s primeval and I think something to do with the fact that we’ve created and nurtured and given birth to these humans. We can’t just compartmentalise our children’s emotional outbursts, pop it in a box and deal with it in the morning. We absorb it all, with no recognition, let alone thanks. You’re only as happy as your unhappiest child. With many children really struggling with this lockdown, that’s where we are shouldering too much. 

I’m having to remind myself to put my oxygen mask on first. Put up your barriers and guard your quiet time. If that’s going for a brisk walk with a friend, taking the dog for a walk, or even escaping early to your bedroom with a good book, do it and close the door behind you. If you can’t look after yourself, you won’t be able to look after your family well either. 

The gift Covid has given me (as I am usually on the go all the time) is permission to watch films or binge on box sets that I wouldn’t usually. My highlights have been The Queen’s Gambit, Emily in Paris and over Christmas we watched Bridgerton. It is akin to eating a big bar of Dairy Milk chocolate. You know it is rubbish but you just can’t stop yourself!  

I go out for walks in the evening and often late. I find it quietly comforting. I have also taken up cycling. My husband is a keen cyclist and each weekend I have vowed to go on a bike ride, increasing the mileage each week!

Q: Any advice for homeschoolers out there?

For families with younger children, the pressure to be full-time teachers is immense. Many schools are expecting parents to guide their children through a full schedule of online and offline lessons (along with the associated tech-based nightmares), while they also turn in a full day of paid employment, keep the family fed and the house running. Meltdowns from children and parents in this high-stress environment are many and often. 

Give yourself credit for what you’re achieving. A teacher friend reminded me that in class, children are heavily influenced by peer pressure to get on and do the work, they ask their friends if they are stuck, they watch each other, chat about questions and learn together. Often, they hand in substandard work because let’s face it, the teacher has 29 other students to share their attention with. At home, it’s just you and your tribe and the pressure on both child and parent to be perfect is simply too much. You know the old adage about dropping balls? Work out which balls are plastic and which are glass. Let the plastic ones bounce, for now.

Q: What do you think the future holds for job seekers?

The future is online and we’re there already. There is encouraging news for 2021. Businesses have their budgets now and many are well prepared to operate entirely online. They are used to hiring online and have spent the past nine months perfecting that process. They are dealing with the fact that home life and work life is a juggling act and perhaps this has opened their eyes more fully to that reality. 

We have had more corporates get in touch with 2to3days than ever before. They are now fully geared up to working remotely and flexibly. They are also acutely aware of the need to hire senior women. 

If, pre-COVID, CEOs drifted around in a bubble, pretending that their employees had no other demands on their time, they can’t any more. It might (I’m going to whisper this), might just have done us all a favour. Great quality part-time jobs are being advertised, roles are being filled, companies are moving forwards. It’s positive. This is our time. Use lockdown to get yourself work ready. The jobs are coming!

This is the rainbow I’m clinging on to!