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Parenting: How to Make Working From Home Work for Everyone

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Parenting: How to Make Working From Home Work for Everyone

“It’s raining here, so I let the kids run around the house to get some energy out.  A few minutes later, I look up and realize both are missing their clothes. Why? ‘Cheetahs don’t have clothes, and they are fastest, so this is how we run the fastest!’”

While companies practice social distancing to prevent the coronavirus spread, millions of workers have moved to working remotely. Here at Knack, we are fortunate. Since the beginning, we’ve been 100% remote and have welcomed work-life balance and a remote culture for quite some time.

However, we are and have been in the same boat as other companies and workers as we all adjust to working from home and caring for our families. Resources that were once available to us to help with caring for our children—childcare, school, or nannies—are scarce. And as some states begin to open back up, many of us still have concerns about returning to previous child care methods.

My fellow Knacklehead touched upon something in a previous article when he said, “For employees to be productive wherever, you need to allow them to be productive whenever. Flexibility in space demands flexibility in time.” And this is ever so true when it comes to parenting and working remotely, as well as keeping employees happy, productive, and reducing turnover.

How Knack Supports Its Knackleheads

Parental Leave

“My first kids post! She’s doing amazing. Some nights she sleeps, others she doesn’t, but we’re getting the hang of sleeping every other hour.” ~ Posted by a new Knacklehead Dad in our Kids Slack Channel

Photo by Omar Lopez

In just over a year, team members have given birth to two sets of twins and three babies with more on the way! The birth of a child is unquestionably a time to celebrate and enjoy. And those precious, unique moments—like changing dirty diapers, sleepless nights, projectile vomit cleanups on hallway one, and baby gazing (hoping they fall asleep soon)—can never be replaced, duplicated, or re-lived!

At Knack, we kick team members (both moms and dads) out of the office! Well, offline, that is, and we kick them offline for up to 8 weeks. And rather than coming back to work right away, we further allow Knacksters to integrate back slowly into work as they adjust to the care of their newest family members and the demands of work.

Asynchronous Work

“He just had his first zoom meeting with his pre-school teacher and a handful of his classmates. He was smiling and blowing a lot of kisses and only almost left the meeting by mistake five times!”

Once we realized that there might be some disruption in the team’s availability to meet and collaborate in real-time, we discussed making a move to asynchronous communication and work. Even pre-COVID, this was something we practiced when needed, especially when it comes to parenting demands.

Asynchronous communication has given the team the flexibility needed to participate in their child’s school zoom meeting or to deal with preschoolers who are convinced that cheetahs run much faster without clothes. Ultimately, this means communicating when it makes the most sense for your schedule. I’m a big fan of jumping online in the wee early hours of the morning.  Other Knacksters like to finish up work after bedtime. The benefits of having the freedom to communicate and provide feedback whenever is invaluable.

How the Knack Team Supports Each Other

“Noob parent question!!! There are $80 strollers, and there are $2000 strollers. What the heck do I truly want out of a stroller? This is worse than shopping for a car!”

When you work remotely, face to face interactions – happy hours, lunches, coffee break conversations can be difficult to replicate online. And it’s during these conversations when we often swap stories about our families, kids, weekend plans, recipes, and tips.

Fortunately for us, we’ve created an online environment that allows us to share our life stories and events and ask for advice. With the help of Slack, we’ve created several channels to have these conversations.

We converse about everything from daycare options, dirty diaper horror stories, share family camping trip photos, debate over the best strollers on the market, AND which flavor of Cheez-Its are a solid snack choice.

How the Knack Team Supports Themselves and Their Family

“OMG, the sun is out here. Must get some vitamin D, back in a bit!”

Photo by Rene Bernal

If you work from home, it can be far too easy for your work schedule to blur an entire day, affecting your overall work and the balance between life and work.

  • Pomodoro Technique! Keep an eye on the clock and work no longer than a specified time without taking a break. Then, use those breaks to check in on kids, relieve a spouse, or wake up a sleeping teenager.
  • Set Your Child up for Success! Teach your child self-directed play. A fellow Knacklehead shared an article with me that recommended the 15/45 minute rule. It works somewhat like the Pomodoro technique in that you give your child 15 minutes of your undivided attention and then set them up for 45 minutes of activities that they can do on their own.
  • Child Care Shifts! If possible, create shifts or put a plan in place with a spouse, significant other, or family member to watch the kids while you work. This will give you the time needed to focus on work and not worry about the screaming toddler downstairs (because another adult is in charge).
  • Be Present! Don’t be afraid to take time away to be with your kids. If the weather is excellent, head outside, channel your inner child, and don’t let the moment pass. Remember, we don’t get this time back.
  • Be Gentle on Yourself! All humor aside, we are in unprecedented times. Parenting your kids is a tough job in general, and when faced with life’s stresses and unusual events, it can become even harder. The key is knowing it’s ok. Know that it’s ok if goldfish make it on the lunch menu. Know that it’s ok if toddlers have to attend the zoom meeting with you. Know that work may not get done until after everyone has gone to bed. Know that it’s ok to take a mental health break in the middle of the day. And more importantly, know that you are not alone.

For working parents, whose days require fulfilling professional duties while caring for their children at the same time, the challenge can be intense. However, with support from leadership and team members, and good old fashioned self-care, we’ve been able to create a work-life balance that works.