- For working parents, this next couple of weeks will pose new challenges as schools are closing.
- During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Kimberly is spending her weekends figuring out how to get in teacher time and prioritizing the health and wellbeing of her loved ones and herself.
- Kimberly is proud to work at a company that is relentlessly focused on the team and its customers.
We are celebrating women’s history month. And, we are all doing it remotely!
I do want to preface my post here with a note. I am proud to work at a company that is relentlessly focused on the team and its customers. We made the right choice to move Ellucian Live online. We made the right choice to invite our teams to work from home. Also, my school district’s objective to “flatten the curve” and move education online—it was the right choice.
Regardless of my unwavering support of these decisions, for working parents this next couple of weeks will pose new challenges. For example, if you’re lucky enough to be in a well-prepared school district like mine, your kids are sent home with books, online learning projects, and educational calendars. Parents will attempt to play the very challenging role of classroom helper or even teacher. You will also feed your kids a (hopefully) healthy lunch, snacks, get some outdoor time, and exercise.
And, you will work. You will attend Zoom meetings, collaborate with teams over Slack, complete your projects—you will be our customers’ trusted advisor, you will embody the Ellucian commitment of supporting our customers as they support students, communities, and their staff.
If you’re lucky, you will have support at home and at work. You won’t do any of that alone and you will take it day-by-day. This message is about those of us who will do part of it alone. This message is in celebration of working parents—of single working parents. But because it’s Women’s History Month, it is especially focused on single working moms.
As I write this message, I hear my daughter telling her older brother that she will play one video game with him if he will paint with her once she beats him. They ate breakfast, cleaned their dishes, and likely have unbrushed teeth. And shortly I’ll remind them to brush their teeth and then we will do an art project and get some exercise. We’re on day two of social distancing.
My kids are in elementary school, ages 10 and 9. Their other parent lives in Minnesota and calls them sometimes. I work from home in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the kids’ school is about a third of a mile away from the house. My kids go to a school therapist once a week to ensure they have another outlet. On Tuesday through Thursday, they stay in aftercare until about 6:00 p.m., ensuring their homework is done and they’re getting some extra movement. When I am traveling on business, they have a babysitter I’ve known a few months who stays at the house with them at night, feeds them, and drops them off at school. Otherwise, they walk to school with their friends. My sister lives about 15 minutes away from me and is a great support system. She’s had her fair share of emergency messages from me while I’m on a flight, away on business, or even in my home on a conference call. It’s really important to have her nearby.
Each day looks something like this:
- Wake up before 5:00 a.m. PT (with probably 10 unread Slack messages, 15-plus new emails, most of which I respond to immediately)
- Get ready for the day (no workouts at this hour, it’s too early)
- Unload the dishwasher, feed the cat
- Start my first meeting by 6:00 a.m. PT
- Make snacks for the day, water bottles, get breakfast ready
- Nudge kids to wake them up, though usually they heard me on my 6:00 a.m. call
- Find a 15- to 30-minute break to ensure the kids have brushed teeth and hair
- Remind them of their activities, kiss them and send them out the door to walk to school (I do this nervously, still, and continue to feel guilty about not walking them to school like the rest of the neighborhood moms)
- Continue meetings until about 3:00 p.m. PT
- Get in a workout (a few days a week, if I’m lucky)
- Finish up emails, presentations, and the many to-do items coming from my eight hours of meetings
- Pick up the kids from school by 6:00 p.m. PT
- Feed the kids dinner during which we talk about our days and never allow devices
- What was special about today?
- What did you learn today?
- Get the kids get ready for bed (shower, teeth)
- Reading, musical instrument practice time
- Tell the kids goodnight by 8:00 p.m. PT
- Clean the kitchen, house, workspace, take out the compost
- Check my personal email, read the physical mail (or throw it into a pile)
- Try to go to bed in time to get a good night’s sleep
I share that with you because you will hear how exhausting it sounds. It is exhausting.
Now, with the coronavirus pandemic, I’m spending my weekend figuring out how to get in teacher time. I’m packing them lunches for the week, even though they will be home. I’m preparing working stations in the house for them and for me. I will cancel some meetings. Many people will be disappointed over that, and while I will care deeply and feel incredibly guilty, I will know that it’s the right thing to do.
When I meet people and they ask me what I do, my first answer is that I’m a mom. My next answer is that I work in software supporting higher education. When I meet people and they ask me what I like to do for fun, my answer is that I like making art, working out, writing, reading, being outdoors. I’m really just listing activities I like to do with my kids, throwing in some activities I’d like to do more (e.g. writing).
I had the opportunity to read Titina’s blog. She wrote about “balance,” but not really “balance” in the usual sense. Instead, she used a great phase: “career-life fit.” She talked about how her personal priorities are her North Star. It got me thinking about my time-spent curve compared with my priorities. For me, it’s clearly stack-ranked:
- Health/well-being (of me and my loved ones)
- Being present (with my kids and other people I love)
- Doing all of the things I am passionate about (for work, and otherwise).
I don’t always spend time in the right buckets, but I know what I want my time curve to look like.
Next week will be an adjustment for many people. But, for single working moms, I want you to know that I see you. Think about your priorities and your time curve. Very few people know what you’re doing. When you cancel a meeting, finish a project late, or lose your patience with your kids ... I see you.
If there were a way to provide a life-grading curve, you’d get the extra points from me. And, maybe your kids will never know the superhero cape that you are wearing today, but they will be thankful for you.
Today I celebrate me. I celebrate you. Good luck with the next couple of weeks.