I've been in the advertising industry for over 23 years, my wife also works full time in the industry, and we have two kids (a seven and five-year-old).
On a typical day, we struggle to feel like we are successful parents - balancing working full time while still actively engaging the kids to help them grow from an educational perspective. The fact is, we rely heavily on our school system to teach our children and keep them on track to be successful...and that’s its own daily challenge.
Now, introduce the fact that schools are closed and we’re faced with a new reality. We have the same amount of work going on (maybe even more as we work with clients to pivot and react accordingly to the pandemic), but we also have two little ones that are in need of attention. My wife and I got together and refused to allow our kids, let alone ourselves, to wallow away in screen time.
So my tips for working parents? Don’t forget to charge the iPad batteries every. single. night. But in all seriousness, kids crave routine. We decided to create a structured environment to keep them learning and keep them engaged with something to do every hour of the day. Yes, every hour. Our daily calendars carve out new activities throughout the day and focus on a different topic, theme or activity. We start each day with a walk outside, and then we go into our regimen - an educational class, arts & crafts, lunch, time outside, and reading. From 7am - 5pm, we have a clear plan mapped out for all of us.
One week in, we’re realizing that it’s not a realistic expectation to stay perfectly on schedule. Client emergencies pop up, we have meetings at the same time, etc. - things happen and you need to adapt accordingly (and you can’t beat yourself up over it). Our big learning this week was to ask for help and accept it when it’s offered. We’ve adapted thanks to the support of our friends and family. My sister-in-law, for example, does storytime over Google Hangouts. It takes a village.
Ultimately, by creating this structure at home for our kids, my wife and I are able to create opportunities to be more productive during the day. We work as a team and rotate responsibility - one of us is always overseeing the activities for the kids, while the other is able to jump on conference calls, write strategies for clients, respond to emails, etc. We are certainly lucky to have each other for support, and now, the added support of our community. While this doesn't solve all of our problems, it makes it workable.
We are also very lucky that we have teammates and clients that understand because they are feeling similar stresses. It's a real struggle, but we will all work through it together. We all just need to do the best we can. But just in case, I’d still make sure to charge those iPad batteries.
Dave Kimball, director of new business, Connelly Partners.