This is what apartment life in lockdown looks like: Mum’s chaotic living room perfectly captures the reality of the pandemic for young families
- Emma and Nick Wallace-Smith are doting parents to boisterous toddler, Daisy
- Both have been working from their two-bed Melbourne apartment since March
- Seven months since first COVID lockdown, the impact of the pandemic is clear
- A photo of the couple’s living room perfectly captures the extraordinary chaos
Emma and Nick Wallace-Smith are doting parents to boisterous toddler, Daisy.
The couple have been working from their two-bedroom apartment in South Yarra, four kilometres southeast of Melbourne CBD, since March when the first COVID lockdown forced millions to stay home and abandon their normal routine.
Seven months later, the impact that Victoria’s second-wave shutdown has had on young families is perfectly captured in a photo of the Wallace-Smith’s living room.
Chaos reigns, with children’s toys strewn across every inch of floor and pots of plants stacked cheek-by-jowl on the mantel.
Surrounded by a slide, teepee and comfort blankets, little Daisy stands transfixed by a cartoon playing on the television in the background.
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The impact of Victoria’s second lockdown for working parents of young children is captured by this photo of Emma and Nick Wallace-Smith’s Melbourne apartment, where chaos has reigned since they both started working from home seven months ago
That’s how it was for the seven and a half weeks from August 5 to September 28 when Melbourne’s daycares closed to non-essential workers like part-time product designer Emma, 35, and full-time financial analyst Nick, 37.
‘We were both trying to work from home in a two-bedroom apartment with a toddler running and jumping on our heads,’ Emma told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Closing childcare and schools has just been so taxing to all involved on so many levels.’
Childcare centres may have reopened, but Emma believes the toll of the pandemic will have grave consequences on the mental health of parents and caregivers for years to come.
She said it was a mammoth struggle to manage Zoom calls and project deadlines while ensuring Daisy was getting enough playtime and active stimulation.
Efforts to make space for the tot led to some ‘pretty unique’ makeshift offices, with Nick working first on the balcony, then the landing in the stairwell of the block.
‘That was pretty dank, so now he’s at a small desk at the end of our bed,’ Emma said.
Efforts to make space for the tot led to some ‘pretty unique’ makeshift offices, with Nick working first on the balcony (left), then the landing in the stairwell of the block (Daisy os pictured at his desk, right)
This new set up has sparked changes in household management, with cleaning dropping down the priority list in favour of family time.
‘Expectations have had to change,’ said Emma.
‘Vacuuming has had to take a back seat at the end of the day so I can make way for meaningful one-on-one play with Daisy.
‘She doesn’t care if there are dishes in the sink, she just wants us to play with her or read her a book.’
For the seven and a half weeks that Victorian daycares were closed to non-essential workers, Emma and Nick Wallace-Smith worked with Daisy in tow
Still, switching off and separating work from personal life has been challenging for both Emma and Nick, who are more accustomed to leaving the office at 5pm than spinning their chairs to embrace their little girl.
‘We’ve had difficulties reconciling the concept. We cherish some wind down time together on the sofa at the end of the day,’ she said.
Indeed the Wallace-Smith’s have never been more grateful for simple pleasures than since the pandemic began.
‘It’s given us perspective. Many people have lost their lives or loved ones, careers and businesses,’ said Emma. ‘We’ve still got our home and our jobs to be grateful for.’