Just as we were in the spring when COVID-19 first came to our shores, many parents across the country are again navigating working from home with kids who are distance learning during this unusual new school year. Because the last time wasn’t exactly a resounding success, school districts have different plans in place for the 2020-2021 session. Parents need a beat to acclimate to those new routines, so we’re thankful to SVP Daniel Shapero, LinkedIn’s chief business officer and a dad, himself, for reminding workers of this eventuality in a now-viral post on his company’s social network.
Indeed. If we can’t get a universal paid leave policy—Congress’ Coronavirus Relief Package covered only some parent-workers—the very least employees with children are owed is understanding. Parents have proven throughout this pandemic that with flexibility about work hours and location, we can achieve the impossible of getting our jobs done while simultaneously parenting. This, of course, has taken its toll on us, and is not a combination of tasks most working parents want to do indefinitely without caregiving help. Still, when formerly rigid schedules are loosened, parents can shine on the job.
Daniel also asked for advice, and his commenters delivered.
“Here in Melbourne, Australia we’ve been ‘homeschooling’ our kids for much of this turbulent year,” wrote Jayne Dullard. “The principle I’ve clung to is that mental health comes first—and if that means letting a math activity slide (child) or doing a Zoom meeting without make-up (me), then that’s perfectly okay. Giving others a break is important; giving yourself a break matters too.“
(I’m nodding my cosmetic-free face vigorously in agreement.)
Smriti Singh, an early childhood educator, added, “The only thing I would like to say is share the calm”—a good reminder that kids pick up on our own moods, and staying even-keeled can help them do the same.
“Make sure you keep their passwords written down and who to contact if they have problems logging in,” commented April Arteaga, a sales director at PandoLogic. “I would also say to connect with the teacher early so you can know what to help with to guide your child.”
“One of my colleagues shares the home duties for his young children with his partner. He clearly puts blocks of time on his calendar that we can see are dedicated to his children. It helps communicate the importance of that time block and I go out of my way to schedule around that. I appreciate his transparency and so I do my best to reward it,” Cheryle Custer added. (That’s how my husband and I do it too.)
Daniel, here’s another tip from me to you with love: Schedule work meetings to start at 10 minutes after the hour, so that when kids’ live instruction starts at the top or bottom of the hour, you and your team have a few minutes to get your young students set up or troubleshoot if there are connection issues.
We’re thankful to senior leaders who are honest about the family challenges with which they need colleagues’ support—and especially to those who extend that same support to coworkers throughout their organization.