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April 14, 2020 3 minute read

Just When You Thought You Had It All: Homeschooling + Working

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Maura Ginty

Chief Marketing Officer

Today marks the fourth week that my daughter’s preschool was closed, just hours ahead of the weekend, and days ahead of the official order for California to shelter-in-place.

Which makes me both a startup CMO and, according to my daughter Eva, room service. Simultaneously.

This week, the following events have occurred in my guest-room-now-home-office:

  • She can pick locks. She walked into an industry analyst call with a butter knife and an uncompromising stance on the need for a lollipop. (Thank you IHS Markit for playing along with supportive patience.)
  • Our marketing kickoff call was interrupted by her urgent need to know my least favorite color. I hope that was helpful for our web team. Apologies if it was not.
  • My whiteboard is covered with houses, flowers, dolphins, and dragons. And stars.

And like everything at Mode, I am not alone. On the marketing team, we’re trying to figure out who is best at distinguishing one 6-month-old twin from another in Kansas City.

Nancy Dexter-Milling working from homeOne of the twins.

Our CEO’s 11-month-old is apparently just walking well enough to join standups of her own will.

Working from home - Derek Working from home - Derek Our CEO's 11-month-old saying hello on the Zoom call.

Of all the odd behaviors of a pandemic, the ivory tower of working from home while explaining ‘flatten the curve’ to a 5-year-old is relatively easy. The embarrassments are somewhat endearing, and the respite of mommy-daughter lunch helps all of us keep our wits together.

A collection of thoughts from our parent Slack channel at Mode

At Mode, we have a Slack channel for parents. Even before we had to accept new work-from-home conditions, this channel had been useful for work-life balance discussions, sanity checks, and some smile-inducing, so-my-kid-did-this-today stories. Now it’s being leaned on as a safe space for support and strategies during this new time. If you’re just joining the work-from-home-schooling brigade, here are some suggestions from the parents at Mode.

Flexibility is necessary, schedules are necessary, but schedules are rarely flexible. Some of our engineers are splitting parenting duties into as few as 15-minute increments. When you’re sharing responsibilities, you can’t skip around and maintain an agreement. Try not to schedule last-minute meetings or move them erratically. Calendar sharing is of next-level importance these days.

Screenshot 2020-04-13 20.01.09 Cuteness shared in our parent Slack channel.

And while we like to stay on camera during video calls at Mode, we know there needs to be flexibility to go off-camera and off-mic as needed. Your all-hands doesn’t need to have the Frozen 2 soundtrack in the background. Fortunately, most parents are quite skilled at tracking several conversations at once so the meeting likely won’t go too far off-track.

For a lot of parents, the compartments are dissolving. Work, home and school were once so blissfully divided, allowing different sides of a self to have different playgrounds, are all uncomfortably tied up in one stuffy room. Not only do we need to remember to be constantly kind to our newly constant companions, we expose ourselves to vulnerability and judgment in entirely new ways.

working from home More cuteness shared in our parent Slack channel.

Don’t make assumptions on caregiving responsibilities or what imbalances they might be negotiating. If there are intensive "wartime" projects that need to be assigned, parents shouldn’t be passed up without a conversation first. And, really, anyone on your team could have older, noncompliant parents or sick relatives where they bear a quiet but outsized burden.

Now more than ever, know where your people stand to make an unpredictable crisis a little more manageable together.

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