Advice For Working Parents Balancing Work and Home During This Pandemic
Governments around the world have temporarily closed non-essential businesses, educational institutions, and daycare facilities in attempt to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, impacting many parents and loved ones to juggle working, parenting, and homeschooling. It is safe to say that our current workdays are anything but business as usual.
Julie Bielawski was a mother of three young children when she started Knowledge Services 25 years ago, grounding the company with deep family-first values. As a result, Knowledge Services understands the significance of giving their Team Members the space and flexibility to adjust to this new balance of work and home during this difficult time. Knowledge Services Leaders encourage Team Members to lead with compassion and understand that this time will soon pass.
“Being a working mother is not easy. When I was a young mother and getting back into the workforce with our new business, it was a challenge to figure out the balance of how to be everything for my children and for my new business. Both needed and deserved so much attention! Back then Joe and I decided that if this was going to work, we needed to involve our kids in the business. They needed to feel a part of what we were doing and why we were doing it. Keeping them involved helped them to understand our mission and why Mom and Dad were busy sometimes.
Today, we are blessed to have two wonderful grandchildren. We have already taken the same approach with them in involving them with our business. The love to come to the office and visit with people. They are building relationships and know what it means and where we are when we go to the office. My long-winded story leads me to my advice to all working parents: let your kids know what you do and why. Involve them in any way you can. They will learn, develop their own work ethic, and maybe even learn to appreciate Mom and Dad for what they do for their family.
While working remotely isn’t ideal, it has provided parents with this wonderful opportunity to be with our children, teach them about what we do and why we do it. After all, we work to make a difference in many ways, but mostly for our family.” – Julie Bielawski
Kate Smith, our Federal Account Manager shared how her day-to-day has changed during this quarantine for her family and how she feels that Knowledge Services continues to support her time at work and at home. She and her family also bought a “quarantine puppy”, Poppie, an Irish Wolf Hound and Doberman mix. Kate mentions she is the “neediest of everyone in her home”!
“The most significant thing for us is how much we have slowed down. Normally we are always in a rush, in the mornings we’re in a rush to get a workout in, get showered and ready, get the kids up, make breakfast, make lunch, and get out the door. In the evening we’re in a rush to get to piano lessons and track practice, make dinner, get the kids in the shower, prep for the next day, and go to sleep. Now, my commute is down the stairs, turn left and walk 7 steps to the office, so my morning is not nearly as rushed. The kids can take their time with breakfast because eLearning doesn’t start until 9 am. There is a lot more time to take our time.
Before this happened, Knowledge Services made a point to help support a balanced lifestyle. The Alternative Workday Schedule (AWS) program is great. I like being able to schedule doctor appointments for the kids and myself, and not have to take PTO for it. I have always felt supported in my schedule with my team and KS Leadership, and I have never had to miss anything for the kids. Additionally, I also really love that they hold events like the Chili Cook-off so my family could come and meet everyone I spend so much time with. The ‘Take Your Kids to Work Day’ was great last year, too!”
Now more than ever, it is imperative to practice inclusive leadership and empathy. Knowledge Services Team Members are encouraged to start meetings with a focus on the well-being and safety of our colleagues and their families. A simple “How are you doing today?” can go very far. As we all navigate this ambiguity, it is important to give Team Members time and flexibility to manage their own schedules and encourage them to really enjoy this time at home they have with their families.
Nate Kresge, our Director of MSP Programs shared how he is enjoying his time at home with his five children and his wife, while also harmonizing his workday through the use of technology that Knowledge Services provide to our Team Members.
“I am very thankful that with technology, not much has changed during the workday. Collaborative tools that KS provides to their Team Members enable a successful and streamlined work-from-home experience.
KS is a people-first company and I have always felt supported as a parent. It was evident prior to COVID-19 and it was amplified throughout COVID-19. The people are the mission and our leadership team keep the mission front and center. And during this time, in my opinion, it is not a matter of balancing or evenly distributing time between work, family, etc. Every sphere of influence I have, whether professionally or personally, I try to lean into with intention and conviction. Jim Elliot wrote, “wherever you are, be all there.” That thought has been a mantra throughout this quarantine. Physical presence does not dictate being present.
Our family is walking away from this quarantine with a heightened sense of intentionality. My wife, Ericka and I made the decision early on to lean into this time knowing it could have a lasting and formative impact on our children. We viewed the stay-at-home order as a blessing, rather than a constraint. We hope our children will walk away from this time understanding the severity of the crisis, but never feeling defeated because of the hope we carried as a family.”
Knowledge Services wants to ensure its valued Team Members that we are all navigating and attempting to warrant patience at home during this stay-at-home order. Especially our team members with young families, we understand that all schedules are completely flipped upside-down. During this ever-changing atmosphere, it is near impossible to juggle everything, so, KS urges its Team Members to be patient when adjusting to the ‘new normal’.
Jayme Hanley, one of our Recruiters, has an adorable, busy, 11-month-old baby, Alexandra “Alex” who has been keeping Jayme and her husband on their toes! Jayme expresses how much she values a supportive Manager and team during this interesting time, and for also being able to see her baby during a time where she is changing so much.
“At this moment, life is totally different. I went from a working mom with a routine and a working mom with daycare, to a stay at home working mom. My husband and I are usually very social and love being on the go with our friends and family. Adjusting to our new normal has taken some time, but we keep reminding ourselves that this is just temporary! I’m more tired than I’ve ever been, and I miss our daycare teachers and love and respect them more and more every day! And to all you stay at home moms: you all deserve a medal!
Everyone has been so supportive all the way to the top. Not only are people understanding hearing a baby in the background, but it makes them laugh and they claim it brings them joy during the day! I am also starting to think that people schedule video meetings purposely to see her (Attn. Julie Gerts) and I get texts before team virtual ‘Happy Hours’ from colleagues who tell me she better not be napping during our call (Attn. Kate Smith). All of these actions make me laugh and make me feel so loved. So many people love my baby – how cool is that?
Lastly, the silver lining – and it brings tears to my eyes as I put this in writing, I am so thankful for this time. I have been given the gift of time with my daughter in this super influential time of her life. I was able to witness her crawling for the first time, witness her eating all sorts of new foods for the first time and I saw her pulling herself up and standing for the first time. And little things, like teaching her how to clap, wave, and give kisses. This quarantine gave me so many things to be thankful and grateful for and while I’m eager to get back to normal and to go outside and hug my family – I am so blessed to be given time with my daughter.”
Remaining positive during this pandemic can be easier said than done, but understanding you have a compassionate company behind you can make a world of difference. Remaining thankful and empathetic towards your coworkers, family, and friends is imperative, and daily or weekly check-in’s can go a long way.
Tony Hesch, our Controller noted that he is not taking this time for granted while he is at home, and he is very thankful to have a spouse who always supports him, but especially during this time of uncertainty.
“I am very fortunate that my wife, Cari, is able to be with the girls (Maryn – 10, Cora – 4) most days. She is a teacher and has been prepping most of her e-learning lessons in the evenings and weekends, so that my days are mostly uninterrupted. I am very lucky, appreciative, and thankful of her support. Also, KS has always been supportive of family time during and before this stay-at-home order. During my time at Knowledge Services, I have thoroughly enjoyed our family-friendly events such as the Chili Cook-off and the ‘Take Your Kids to Work Day’. Additionally, I have heard and seen children and pets on multiple calls (including my own daughters, and my cat, Cubby). In our current environment, this is sometimes a breath of fresh air.
My team has been continuously checking in with each other just hearing some of their concerns such as: caring for higher risk loved ones remotely, balancing work and children throughout the day, and cabin fever. Checking in on each other is helpful and learning how teammates are coping and knowing you’re not the only one is reassuring. Knowing that we have the support to get work done and the flexibility to shuffle our schedule a little throughout the day during these weird times.”
KS wants each and every Team Member to feel valued and heard during this time away from the office. Below are a few simple reminders that we are all in this together, #KSFam!
Quick tips to remember during quarantine:
- Schedule a lunch with your spouse outside while the kids play
- Go for a walk or a bike ride
- Check in with your fellow coworkers daily
- Give yourself a break time and again
- Be intentional to enjoy and be thankful for your friends, family, health, and job every day
- Write out a routine and stick with it each day
- Sunshine and fresh air are essential
- Be thankful for this time at home and make the most of it!