Insights On Balancing Parenting And Running A Business During COVID

By Jessica Mann-Amato of Mancini Duffy

Jessica Mann-Amato
The Helm

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Finding humor in a tough situation

Everything tends to run together, there is not a real break between work time and family time — and now we’ve added educator into our daily schedule. It can feel really overwhelming trying to juggle it all. There are many times each week when my husband and I are both in Zoom meetings and within a span of five minutes ridiculousness ensues: my kid is screaming that she needs help going potty, the dog is barking because he wants to go out, the doorbell rings and has to be answered and he and I are both literally presenting to clients. Honestly, I am just really open with my clients and teammates — we all laugh about it. We are all in the same boat right now, it is what it is, so we might as well joke about it! I would love to see more hidden camera videos of the ridiculousness that parents are juggling while on mute/video off during zoom calls….it would be hysterical!

When I really feel like I’m being pulled in too many directions I have a little mantra I repeat to myself…things my mother used to say, and things I tell my daughter…words I live by. I take a few deep breaths and remind myself to just breathe, keep your chin up, smile (because it’s infectious), be kind, find joy in little things, laughter is good medicine, and tomorrow will be a better day. It helps to reset your mood, gather your resolve, and move forward!

Breaking my day up

I’ve tried to break my day up so that I can achieve relatively focused work time and then focused time with my daughter and husband. Early morning, lunch time, and after 5 pm is my focused family time — I turn off everything and focus only on them, which is a wonderful new gift. Before this pandemic it was much harder to put the work away; I always had my phone with me and was checking it, which only allows you to half focus. Now, it’s more important than ever to be able to focus — so I make sure I can really be in the moment during family time to help teach, learn, read, explore, craft, and play. My daughter understands that my focus will be squarely on her during family time, and it helps her to work on all the focused activities I set her up with during my work time, because she knows I will devote that time to her. That also allows me a few good spans of time each day so that I can effectively focus on my work.

Family first mentality at our company

As a company, and honestly, I think as the whole human race we are just much more flexible than ever before; there is a higher level of empathy and understanding during this time. In our company, family comes first…so if that means working around teaching schedules/flexible daytime schedules as parents juggle, pitching in to help each other cover deadlines and meetings, understanding the need for time off, or offering moral support…whatever is needed we are there to support each other. Because we have always operated this way — a family first mentality — there is no pressure or fear surrounding those conversations. We are all open and honest about what we need and support each other to get through it. We also work in teams, which really helps us to be able to spread the work and responsibility and pitch in to cover each other, as needed.

Pivoting to full-time WFH

We have done a fabulous job of pivoting our whole company to full-time WFH. We seamlessly adjusted our design processes so that we can efficiently work from home. We have adapted our 360 Design process so that we can still offer the same first-person immersive design experience that clients would normally do in our VR Design Lab, all from the comfort of their homes. As a result, we have been able to offer all of our employees the option to continue to work from home for as long as they need to as we all try to navigate this pandemic together. Most important for us is the health and safety of each of our employees and clients, so we will continue to adapt and innovate with the situation as required to push our company forward, in the safest way possible.

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