The Juggling Act: Parenthood During Quarantine Recap
“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” —Dolly Parton
Easier said than done during a global pandemic! Here in the United States many parts of the country have been in lockdown or dealing with restrictions for over two months leaving many schools to move to virtual learning and many workplaces to move to remote setups. This new reality has left working parents struggling to work, educate, manage a home and live a life.
HR Transform and Responsive Conference brought together a panel of working parents to share the good times and the bad of working from home during a pandemic as well as some great advice! Here are some of the highlights:
- Merritt Anderson, Former VP, Employee Experience and Engagement, GitHub AND mom to Augustus (9 years), Wyatt (7 years) & Tessa (5 years)
- Katelin Holloway, Partner, Initialized Capital AND mom to Luca (5 years) & Juno (2 years)
- Mita Mallick, Head of Diversity and Cross Cultural Marketing, Unilever AND mom to Jay (7 years) & Priya (5 years)
- David Newson, Principal, B|O|S AND dad to Xander (22 months)
- Communication is Key. “We are a co-parenting household, I take mornings and my husband takes the evenings. Now every little thing we HAVE to talk about the night before. Communication is super key. There are times where we look at things and say “nope, that’s not going to happen” and that is SUPER hard for my personality type.” – David
- Be Transparent About What You Need. “I noticed I was taking on the stereotypical gender roles, like cooking all the meals. My husband said to me, “you were able to work and cook and do all that stuff before.” Sure – BUT I don’t want to do that now. Leaning in and leveraging my kids is what I’m trying to do now. This is a struggle – we need to learn how to work differently and be transparent about what we need.” – Merritt
HOW TO HELP KIDS MANAGE
- No Day Looks the Same. “We don’t have a beautiful Instagram schedule for the kids, but we have talked to my son and said “here are the things you have to get done by 3pm.” No day looks the same in our house!” – Mita
- Make It Fun with Structure. “Every morning we look at our sit and spin that we turned into a theme chart of sorts. The outer circle is something fun and the inner circle is the educational disciple so we end up with things like medieval science. Then at the end of the day we take a family portrait of the theme! Bring the fun back with some structure!” – Katelin
HOW DO YOU SUPPORT COWORKERS WITH KIDS?
- Lead with Empathy. “Have empathy. There is no new normal, there is no getting used to things. Give people a break and take a second to educate people to know what is going on in your life.” – Mita
- The Little Things Count. “One day in our house our theme was the circus. I was talking to a coworker who happened to know how to juggle so I said “can you show my son?” He was all in! We called him back and he did some juggling and a ring trick and some handstands – it was the best gift!” – Katelin
- Be Available. “It’s really about making space … supporting parents by being available … showing up as leaders, being real” – Merritt
LOTS OF ANXIETY NOW. HOW CAN YOU STAY SANE?
- Breathe. “I’ve found these short meditations that are 1 minute long – I can do it in the bathroom! It’s 60 seconds of breathing – ok I can do that!” – David
- Activities with Your Kids. “I do what my kids are doing … if they are coloring why can’t I do that with them? It could be a few minutes of peace.” – Mita
- Turn Your Video Off. “When I have a meeting and I don’t have to be on video I just don’t turn it on! Sometimes it preserves your sanity and allows you to be present.” – Katelin
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KEEP WITH YOU WHEN THINGS GO BACK TO NORMAL?
- Open Communication. “We have had real robust dialogue with my kids around big life issues – I want to continue to foster that.” – Merritt
- More Family Time. “I will not give up having my little buddy around and he is not going to go back to daycare 5 days a week. I don’t want to do that. The tradeoffs are ones I am willing to accept. – David
- A Chance to Reset. “As two working parents who are always in a race but no idea where they are going – we are going to reset all the things we did for convenience.” – Mita
A big thank you to David, Katelin, Merritt and Mita for joining us! Following this candid discussion we were treated to some fun for our little ones with a sing-along courtesy of Mr. Dave Music!
Stay safe and don’t forget to listen to Dolly and make time for a life!