As lockdown starts to relax a little, we now have time to reflect on Covid, what it means to my business and me personally.
12 weeks ago, I had no idea how much my world was about to change.
I spent that weekend on the west coast of Scotland, away with some awesome women, working on our businesses, eating simple food and relaxing. We strolled around Tesco as if it was no big thing and even took a scenic drive home, stopping at a pub at Loch Lomond for an early lunch and then Scottish Antique Centre for a little shopping and cake. We had no idea what was about to happen.
That week, my husband and I moved in with my in laws to help care for them. They needed support and we are happy to help.
And then Covid really started hitting the world. I spoke with Ashleigh, my right-hand woman here at LOL, and we agreed to monitor the situation, with an expectation that we would need to pause both school and family sessions for a short time. I wrote a blog at this time. It conveyed the real fear I was feeling.
By the end of that week, we ceased it all. I even stopped face to face tuition and gave my tutors and families 1 week notice that we were switching to online. All our outdoor work had to pause as well. This was one of the hardest business decisions I ever had to make.
Over the course of the next week I lost 100% of my income for the outdoor work and around two-thirds for the tutoring. Things looked and felt bleak. But Ashleigh and the rest of the team were amazing. They kept me going. We set some priorities, to support all our families as best we could, to continue to turn up every day, to support each other.
We started online tuition and it went well for most children. It was never going to be the best fit for all, but it worked for the vast majority. We also started our weekday Fledgling sessions, providing free ideas to keep little ones busy.
For me, furlough was never an option for the team. There was too much for me to do alone, if I furloughed the team we would not be able to support our families. Had it come to it I would have paid my team from my own pocket until we could run sessions again. Thankfully, it didn’t.
The government stepped in with their £10,000 business grants. This meant we could help in more places. We started working with various community projects, sharing outdoor ideas for free. As well as doing what we could for our LOL family. We set up various Facebook groups and pages designed to support families, for free.
We also supported other businesses. We rebranded and had a new website built. We attended courses online and masterminds. We kept going.
The first 6-8 weeks were really hard on me. As people began to understand how Covid would impact their families, some stopped tuition. This was not an easy decision for them, but it was the right one for them. But this meant every week, every day, I did not know what would happen. For someone who suffers from anxiety, this was tough. Yes, we had the grant, but I needed to ensure that lasts as long as possible. We still have no real idea when we will be safe to resume lessons. I needed to ensure we still had money coming into the business so we can survive.
But being the hardheaded stubborn woman I am, I kept going. Moving forward every day. By this point I was suffering terribly with toothache. 2 different courses of antibiotics finally seemed to sort the infection. The huge hole in my tooth is still there however, and I am not sure when I will see a dentist, July maybe. (Between writing this and posting it I have another infection in the site and will be back on very strong pain killers and antibiotics as soon as I can collect them).
But, my kids, both my LOL kids and tutoring kids needed consistency, so every day we continued to pitch up and do our best.
After around 8 weeks, life started finding a new rhythm. There was a consistency and that meant I could stop working quite as hard. No more 6 and 7 day work weeks, with 12 hours a day or more.
The last month has been calmer. Calmer being building a log cabin, finishing moving house (that was put on hold due to the storage unit being closed), repainting a whole house and still running 2 sides of a business and yes, the newest tooth infection. Yeah, how that is what calm looks like I aint quite sure either!
We have grown, as a business, as a team and as people. We have our new educational members site getting ready to launch, providing curriculum based outdoor learning ideas. We have new tutors coming on board. And we are looking at what next.
As a person, I have realised strength I didn’t know I had. I have kept going, kept growing, even when everything inside me was screaming at me to stop and give up, telling me all my hard work over the last few years was wasted. I kept going.
We won’t be able to run the summer we were dreaming of. We had been working on it since last summer. It just will not be safe to bring groups together yet. This hurts. But we will still be here, providing learning ideas and more, supporting families to play, learn, create and make memories together.
We are still here for our LOL family. We will continue to pitch up for you every day.
We have often said during this time how much your comments, photos and messages helped us. There were times they would make me cry, whilst they gave me the strength to keep going. You are all amazing, and as a team, we thank you with the whole of our hearts and souls. You have kept us going, kept us growing and kept us as part of your families.