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PHM at Home: Working from Home with Kids

April 30, 2020
Posted by Publicis Health Media

After a full month of working from home and sheltering in place, we queried a sample of PHM parents to find out how they’re managing these new situations. The responses were honest, helpful—and in some cases—hilariously raw.

Everyone’s situation is unique, but there are some universal truths: Parenting is hard and now made even harder by many restrictions. There are challenges, a surprising amount of joy, and a whole lot of gratitude for accommodating and understanding colleagues.

Many of you are creating new rituals and carving out time for family breaks—blocking out lunch hours to sit down together and have a laugh. Universally, people are happy to reclaim former commuting time and are easing into their days or relaxing longer at night. A few are staying up later, now that mornings are less hectic. No one, it’s clear, misses their commute.

We’re all a bit more relaxed since we don’t have to rush around to make the train or pick up times.
– Laura Savino, Business Management Director, New York 

You do, however, miss your extended families. Grandparents often play a big role in family life and being isolated from them is hard on kids and parents, who miss their own moms and dads.

The hardest part of all this for me is not being able to see my extended family. My son’s grandparents play a big role in his life and ours, and not being able to spend time with them is sad.
Laura Savino

I miss my mom a ton, not that I always took advantage of seeing her as much as I should. But knowing that I might have a Mother’s Day that I don’t hug my mom is effecting me a whole lot more than I ever realized. I am having friends lose parents from this, so it makes me realize how much I took those things for granted (but never will again).
David Klein, SVP, Media, Philadelphia

Some are developing new work habits they’d like to continue.

Sara Bast has found she’s most productive in the morning and Jaime Morelli is surprised by how willing she is to be on camera for meetings and is eager to keep the video calls going.

I think it’s an essential practice we should bring back with us to the office and to our WFH guidelines. After all, we’ve already seen you in your pajamas and a top knot!
Jaime Morelli, SVP, Media & Chicago Office Lead

Most credited a daily routine for keeping everyone going, but there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Older children in a household are more often working independently and everyone is more likely to meet up in the kitchen for meal times. But for those with little ones, schedules are proving to be key, if difficult to stick to.

Different things work or don’t work for each of us. We might all be working from home with kids, but all of us have different situations.
Sarah Bast, SVP, Media & Point of Care Lead, Philadelphia

Being flexible is key to juggling kids and work from home.

I just go with the flow. Every day is different with kids this young. Most people know I have a toddler, so I’m sure they know if I’m offline for a bit, I’m ‘mommin’ as I call it!
Jacqueline Facuse, Team Assistant, Chicago

Figure out what you value most, and arrange your time to prioritize that. If it’s time with your kids, work during naps and quiet time. If it’s getting a presentation done, sit your kids in front of a movie and don’t sweat it. Your priorities may change daily, or not at all, but in the end you will know that you acted according to what is most meaningful to you.
Jaime Morelli

We all know that kids are creative, but something unexpected came up over and over again in our survey: Parents exclaiming over how creative their little ones are and what a gift it has been to glimpse this throughout the day as it’s something normally reserved for school and teachers.

We always thought she was smart (as all parents do!) but watching her out of the corner of our eye as we work, we have been so delighted at how imaginative and observant she is. It’s been so much about what skills she masters along the way, almost like a check list. But now we’ve got more time to see the wheels turning and the actual development of new emotional, mental and physical skill sets—and it’s really fascinating to see how far we all come from childhood
Ellen Giuntoli, Media Director, Chicago

The part that has most surprised me? Seeing her imagination shine when she plays.
Jacqueline Facuse

Implementing and keeping schedules is proving to be difficult, especially for those with younger kids.

There’s definitely a lot less structure than we had hoped to implement. I think every age group has its own challenge, but there’s a little less rigor with a pre-school child home vs. the grade school students who have their daily Zoom classes. It really is up to us to be her ‘teachers.’ Both my husband and I have been slammed with work since the week this started, so having to be flexible each day has been our greatest challenge.
Ellen Giuntoli

One thing is clear, that the uncertainty and doubt most parents feel under normal circumstances has been amplified during the pandemic and PHM parents need to give themselves a break. There’s an immense amount of pressure right now, and you’re feeling it.

Feeling like the kids’ education is going nowhere. Feeling like they are missing out on certain developmental things and social interactions that are only available at school and daycare. Feeling like I’m not being a good enough employee or parent or teacher. Balancing my schedule with my husband’s. Sometimes we are both on ‘important’ phone calls with kids screaming in the background – not the most professional look. Figuring out which of my kids’ behaviors are signs of additional stress and anxiety vs. normal child development. I am learning to forgive myself for not being totally present for everyone.
Jaime Morelli

Not being able to be the mom I want to be and the leader, peer, co-worker, the spouse I want to be…I used to be. Right now we have to be all these things in the exact same second and it’s impossible and incredibly frustrating.
Sarah Bast

For some—not all—there’s even a silver lining, and few things you hope will continue once we no longer are sheltering in place.

I’m hoping the world can calm down a bit and we all learn to live at a slower pace. Taking more time to focus on family and allowing more flexibility for working parents, and folks in situations that need it in their life. I’m also hoping some of the positivity we’re seeing and kindness and helpfulness people have shown to each other and those in need continue!
Laura Savino

Continuing to have this much patience that I’ve had to exercise – with myself, my family and co-workers. Remembering that we are all just doing our best in really, really weird times!
Ellen Giuntoli

We’ve done a lot of crafts, games, baking, and a lot of bi-lingual reading together. These are things we did before the shelter in place order but it was more difficult to find the time when you’re commuting to work and only really have the weekends for free time. So I will make sure we can squeeze in these activities once life is back to ‘normal.’
Jacqueline Facuse

And when things get difficult, it’s ok to have a good cry, lean on a partner, reach out to a virtual friend and cut yourself some slack.

I cry.  I mean really cry…balling. And I do it most often when I go for a run because I just need to leave work and kids and husband at home. I need time to myself to just cry!!!
– Sarah Bast

Parting advice:

We asked PHM parents if they had any advice to share and each and everyone said a version of this: Cherish this time with your kids and family, time you wouldn’t have had otherwise while juggling work and schedules. Hold on to this connection and keep making time for special projects and time together.

As hectic and crazy as it might be right now, enjoy it! It’s time we wouldn’t normally have with them if we were working at the office.
Jacqueline Facuse


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