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In case you missed it—that was summer. You didn’t do much, and you didn’t go far. In fact, your only solid memories of summer may be the parts where you were staring at a computer screen in various rooms of your house—and because it was summer, occasionally on the back patio.
Seriously, I could swear it was just a couple days ago we were learning to navigate the difficulties of working from home full-time while simultaneously parenting. And way back then, I am afraid we had it easy. Schools didn’t have time to prepare, so it was okay that we didn’t have our collective act together. Now after that short break, we’re about to layer on real, organized(ish), scheduled curriculum. This is going to bring a unique set of challenges for moms and dads everywhere (employers be aware).
So as we gear up and level up our multi-tasking work/life imbalance, it seems like a good time to reflect on the positives that we have gained from working side by side with our children. Because years from now, I think we may actually look back at this time as one of the most rewarding and sentimental moments in our lives as parents.
As a growth leader for our Oregon-based agency, I tend to spend about a third of my year on the road. So when quarantine orders started in March, I was suddenly more at work and more at home than I have ever been. And with my wife going to work at the hospital every day, my 6-year-old daughter and I were working side by side while she finished kindergarten.
Years from now, I think we may actually look back at this time as one of the most rewarding and sentimental moments in our lives as parents.
After more than five months, we have shared some moments that are clearly going to have a lasting impact on both of us. By week two, she was already randomly singing client jingles or reciting the exact script of a 30-second TV spot. I had a client join a major pitch call an hour early, and he found himself in the middle of a kindergarten class Zoom playdate (which he described as a “madhouse”). On a separate pitch call, I tried to maintain a straight face and composed demeanor while she did the robot dance behind me for what felt like 10 minutes (which I also didn’t even know she could do). I’m reminding myself of this as we prepare for doing the school part again.
In addition to the silly stuff, I am also very proud that she has absorbed meaningful adult working situations that will positively shape her development. She has seen how adults collaborate putting together a TV commercial on a two-week timeline, deciding how to take care of a workforce suddenly working from home and working through conflicts that arise from these difficult circumstances. She has seen women in leadership positions—outnumbering men in most meetings. She has watched as an organization grappled with its own shortcomings on diversity and inclusion, and how to react to that in a positive way.
I have also gained new perspectives on how to be a better parent: a better understanding of how she learns, what triggers her and how we can imagine together.
Like an infinity loop version of “Bring Your Child to Work Day,” our kids have been given a unique opportunity to gain firsthand insights into us, the work we do and the world as a whole. And we’re simultaneously learning more about them than we ever could when we were separated for eight hours a day. Look for, and try to enjoy those moments, because they’ll go by faster than any summer vacation.