In 2013, I was a South Sound Business 40 under 40 honoree. I was also eight months pregnant and already a mommy to a 4-year-old. I clearly remember filling out the Q&A for the magazine article and realizing a lot of my responses had a theme: balancing a career and parenthood.
Maybe it was because I was about to birth a human and I felt invincible, but I wanted so badly to show my kids that I could do it all.
Fast forward seven years and thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic I’m definitely showing them a whole lot of what I can — and can’t — do.
I currently feel like I am forced to do things that projects managers always try to avoid for our teams: context shifting. It’s good to look back and perform a retrospective on the past few months to evaluate my work from home, mom from home, teach from home, do everything from home efforts and make sure I have some sort of balance as we move forward.
Here is my sprint retrospective for working from home with kids during the Covid-19 shutdown.
What am I doing well?
- For my clients and co-workers: I want my teams to genuinely know I care for them, their families, their mental and physical health. The simple words “how are you doing today” or making sure to turn my video on for GoToMeeting or Zoom helps with those connections.
- For my kids: Setting aside time each day for them — even in the middle of the day. They understand my work is important, but they need to feel our own family unit connection more than ever.
Communication and transparency
- For my clients and co-workers: I try to over-communicate as much as I possibly can. This appears through keeping my Slack status updated with what I am working on or my availability, standups as frequently as possible, weekly meetings with clients, sending re-cap emails to confirm conversations, keeping our project management tools, Jira and Trello, up to date and making sure all stakeholders have access to view, and so much more.
- For my kids: This comes in the form of talking a lot with my kids about what is going on. Not with just what mommy is working on and why it is important, but also talking with them about what is going on in the world and why it is important to be home together right now.
- For my clients and co-workers: Being flexible is not necessarily something that comes naturally for project managers. We like our schedules and to know what comes next. But with so much uncertainty in the world and such drastic changes with how/where people work, being flexible and adaptable has become more important. Sometimes that means rescheduling a last-minute planning meeting so a co-worker can take a breather outside or transitioning a client workshop from in-person to virtual using new technology and everything in between.
- For my kids: We try to stay on a schedule as much as possible. It really helps the kids. But, sometimes everyone is sad, stressed out and just not feeling it. So I just need to make sure I can drop whatever I am doing to focus on them and be ok with a late night or early morning to catch up.
What can I improve?
- Taking breaks. I usually start my days earlier and end them later to account for time to help the kids throughout the day with school. Not really getting the time to take breaks to regroup myself, gather my own thoughts, take a breather.
- Identifying growth opportunities. I’ve been really blessed to have leadership who supports education and growth in my career. The past two years I’ve had the opportunity to become a Certified Product Owner and Certified Scrum Product Owner which is great for supporting my clients and my teams. With everything being virtual, I can do better at researching and identifying opportunities to continue this growth.
- Connecting with co-workers I am not actively working on projects with. I miss connecting with my co-workers so much! I stay in active communication with those I am working on projects with, but I miss interacting with so many others.
- Read more books on personal and professional growth. Getting some me time and continuing my growth.
- Eat breakfast and lunch. I’m so focused on feeding the kids, but I’m so over doing dishes and cooking three meals a day!
- Block some time for myself. Now that summer is here, I am going to time block myself time each day to get outside for some vitamin D.
It’s now been 3 months since I was last in the office with my team or able to meet with my clients face to face. It snowed my first official work from home day. Today is 81 degrees. Not only has the weather changed during this time, but the world has changed. Our team, clients and approach have pivoted. I’ve learned so much about myself, my relationships with my clients have grown, my relationships with my co-workers have become stronger and I’ve seen the resilience in my kids.
As uncertain as the world is around us right now, there is one thing that is certain, we can look back at this time and know there was a lot of good to come out of it to make us all better.