Working From Home With Kids: An Honest Assessment

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Terah Bocchi, senior vice president of sales at Bidtellect.

Yes, this is hard.

My kids are currently screaming in the background. I’m not sure what the cause of the moment is – I have mastered tuning them out. I have work to do, a national sales team to manage and a global crisis to get through.

Working in ad tech, I am not saving lives – and greatly appreciate those who are – but I do have clients, partners and a team that is relying on me to show up.

At the same time, I am a mom. I have a 7th grader, a 4th grader and a kindergartner who need me too. All day. There’s no school, no camp, no activities and no friends to send them off to.

Somehow I need to keep them reasonably quiet, busy, educated, fed, healthy and out of my office, so I can dial in for a typical day: check-in calls with my sales team, which works across North America, meetings with our C-Suite to discuss strategy and status updates, working with marketing on new collateral, creative ideas and research to help our advertising partners, joining agency or brand-client meetings with partners and digesting updates from our product team about the latest platform and product releases. And don’t forget the endless onslaught of emails and Slack messages.

Last month, I would have told you I had this working-mom-from-home thing mostly down. I have been a remote employee for the past nine years and have learned how to juggle school schedules, meetings, locking myself in my office and a busy travel schedule. But honestly, nothing prepared me for this.

Parents, I know I am not alone in feeling overwhelmed with all of this. The pace of life changed, but it did not slow down.

Companies, adjust your expectations for what working hours look like. The parents on our teams aren’t only trying to balance their workloads, they are coordinating schedules with their partners and e-learning with their kids. To keep communication flowing internally, we asked everyone to add time to their calendars when they are going to be unavailable during the day, so we aren’t interrupting needed personal time by scheduling calls that conflict with their work-life balance and cause additional stress.

Communication has been essential. This is an uncertain time, and nerves are frayed. Make sure you are checking in with your team members regularly. I found that this has not only brought our sales team closer together, also our entire company, from operations to finance, marketing and technology. We are communicating more regularly, sharing the good, bad and ugly more transparently. We’re bringing some light to a tough situation with Slack channel memes, virtual happy hours and Zoom meetings with kids popping on. I have loved meeting kids whose parents I have worked with for years across different cities; their interruptions are welcomed. With my own kids, I’ve found that just a quick “hi” makes their day and then they go back to whatever they were doing – because my job is boring to them.

At home, we’ve accepted schedules aren’t what they used to be. Routines, bedtimes, regular iPad time limits and classroom schedules are not going to work for us. Yes, I was the mom that typed up a daily routine for each kid when this started, and I love my calendars normally. But these schedules failed fast because the days are unpredictable, and the stress of keeping everyone on track was too much on us all.

Instead, we start the day with discussing what has to get done today, my meeting times and commitments and their important school work; we wing the rest of it. They have freedom to use their imagination, keep themselves entertained and (hopefully) sleep in if they want to. With them going to bed a bit later and sleeping in, I have been able to get up an hour or two ahead of them and start the day without distraction.

No, this is not easy, but we are in it together and learning how to bring family into our professional lives may not be the worst lesson for ourselves, companies and co-workers. We are parents first.

Follow Bidtellect (@Bidtellect) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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