Like many mothers and some fathers, I have always struggled with the decision to work outside of the home. I have cried many days and had endless hours of guilt sitting in my office thinking about leaving my children.  Ultimately though, I believe I am a better mom when I am working. I am an extrovert and like to feel as if I’ve contributed to Corporate America. Everyone has their own personal decision to make and this has been mine.

Being a stay-at-home parent is hard, being a working parent is hard, but being a work-at-home parent is the most challenging of them all. And like millions of parents, that is my reality for the unforeseeable future.

 

I’m a first-timer to telecommuting

Like many employees in the United States, given our healthcare crisis, all our team members are working from home. We are not allowed in the office and must manage our workload from home which faces challenges from an operational perspective.

While many people have embraced telecommunications, when you are not used to it, it can be difficult. There is routine disruption, technological challenges and the feeling of isolation. I’m getting a big dose of first-timer syndrome this week, but I’m up for the challenge.

 

Compliance is key to everything in my world

As the head of operations at our firm, my first priority is to our clients and providing for the utmost confidentiality of our clients’ data whether we are in the office or working from home. Wealth management is a people business, so that probably goes without saying, but we are governed by SEC regulations, so compliance is at the top of my mind with everything we do. Period.

We have long provided VPN access for several who were already working remotely, so we expanded that access to all team members. Our ultimate objective is to provide secure connections for everyone, to maintain private client data throughout this protracted period.

 

That just happened

I knew Spring Break was extended and potentially a couple of weeks more but when I received an email from my children’s school district last night, my stomach dropped. The kids will not physically be going back to school for the remainder of the year but will participate in some sort of e-learning. And as if times were not challenging enough right now, I am expected to be a pseudo-teacher too?  Perfect.

How do we manage this? How can I fulfill my job duties and take care of my kids at the same time? What can I do to ensure my career is still on track and keep the health of my kids at the forefront? I know many of us are asking these questions. I’m asking not only as a mother but as an employer as well. I must face the facts that members of my team are faced with a new reality.

“And as if times were not challenging enough right now, I am expected to be a pseudo-teacher too?  Perfect.”

From my friends that normally stay-at-home, I have received charts that outline craft projects and creative ways to spend the day.  They have sent me recipes and Pinterest Pins and color charts.

While these are great tools, I don’t have time to build a rocket ship out of Legos or make a mosaic picture frame while impending work deadlines, conference calls, and client meetings are on my calendar. I don’t have the luxury of taking a two hour walk to teach the kids about Mother Nature when a work project that impacts 15 people is due.

“I don’t have the luxury of taking a two hour walk to teach the kids about Mother Nature when a work project that impacts 15 people is due.” 

  • As an employer and in my role as the Director of Operations for my company, I must embrace the fact that our working moms and dads with kids at home will have their productivity slashed. They may need more flexibility with regards to meetings and “desk time”. We may have to get creative with how work gets done and I must be okay with that.
  • As an employee, I need to create structure and routine so both worlds can be productive. I need to carve out time to meet my kids’ needs as well as my company’s. I need to use good time management and perhaps work during non-traditional hours. Again, I don’t have the answers, but I am a problem solver and will get through this.

Here are four tips from me and a couple of my team members who are also working parents.

Tip #1 – Split Schedule

    • One colleague has very young children who are still in daycare. She is considering bringing them home to quarantine and splitting up the day with her spouse, so they both can benefit from uninterrupted work time throughout the day. The bonus for the kids is they will get uninterrupted time with each parent.
    • My situation at home is a little different, so I’m on call all day long at home. My kids are in school, so they can be somewhat self-sufficient for part of the day. I’m having the kids sleep in this week and make their own breakfast. That gives me a bit more time for work. Then we set aside time to be together over lunch, so I can give them my undivided attention before I go back to my work priorities. Then dinner and family time at 4pm. I squeeze in an hour after bedtime to make sure I’m ready for tomorrow.

Tip #2 – Rank Your Priorities Each Day

By keeping the to-do list short, it is more manageable. And you feel better when you can mark those things off the list. A-priority items are on the first list. B-priority items might get moved to another day in the week, and so on.

  • At work, our big goal is to get each and every client called. There is obviously concern about how the markets are reacting and people really want to hear from their financial advisor. My objective today is to get a report distributed about what clients still need to be reached, so everyone makes time for their list of clients.
  • At home, the kids just want to know what they’re doing TODAY. We have one main thing, then we work in everything else as we can. Today is a READING DAY at our house where everyone is expected to spend time with a book of their choice. We organized the bookcase so they can choose a new book once they are finished.

 

Tip #3 – Set Up A Daily Team Call

I like the accountability of talking with my teammates each day, making sure we are all doing okay, first and foremost. But also to talk about issues they ran into or seeing if there are resources that need to be addressed. It’s a short 30 minute call on Zoom, but it’s nice to see everyone’s face. You make some really great friends at work. It’s hard not seeing them every day.

 

Tip #4 – Try A Virtual Happy Hour

I’ll have to let you know how this turns out. Our first one is scheduled for today. My colleague had this idea for Friday afternoon where we will all get a beverage of choice and set aside an hour at the end of the week to talk about things on a Zoom call. Not about the virus or about work, but other things in our lives. Everyone has an assignment to bring a topic, so it should be interesting!

These are unchartered waters for all of us and I don’t have the answers. But I know that I must figure it out. We all must figure it out and ensure we are doing our part to keep this #coronavirus from spreading.

The healthcare crisis is ever-evolving and I would love to walk this path with you. Please share how you are making it work. My ears are open to trying new things because, I, too, am learning. My commitment is to provide a few insights over these next weeks and months. Stay tuned for my updates in a few weeks.

Stay strong, moms and dads. Remember, we’re all in this together – from 6 feet away.

If you have any questions or concerns about your current financial plan, please contact us at (913) 345-1881 or at angela@aspyrewealth.com.

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