What was your family’s normal, pre-pandemic school routine?
Our usual routine was already stressful before the pandemic, so you can imagine the uproar that COVID-19 caused in our home. Every weekday is a marathon of getting both kids up and ready for the day. We would drop off our daughter at daycare, then start our therapy schedule with our 6-year-old son, who has Autism. He has Speech and Occupational therapy first thing in the morning before we drop him off at BCBA (Behavioral therapy) before heading to the office for work. During our work hours, we try to get as much done as possible before our evening routine of picking up both kids, going home to start dinner, and getting the kids ready for bath and bedtime. We usually get some work done before going to bed ourselves.
How did you and Andy – PLANOLY’s CEO – establish work, parenting, and marriage boundaries?
The first few weeks were up in the air and pure pandemonium since we didn’t know what was going on or how long it would last. After many failures and successes, we kept evaluating what was and wasn’t working for us as a family. We both had to work from home, have a 2-year-old and an Autistic son who was previously receiving 40 hours of therapy a week to transitioning to homeschool and teletherapy. We started blocking off WORK and CARING hours. Since I was the one doing the parent-led teletherapy with Teddy, Emmy would get her 1:1 sessions with my husband during those time blocks.
What’s it like homeschooling two children and doing virtual therapy with Teddy?
It hasn’t been easy. As children and even adults, routines are so important, so behaviors and anxiety immediately spiked up in both kids. It’s still important to keep our routines the same as much as possible, so that gave our kids a little comfort in knowing what to expect for the day. Some days they are more cooperative than other days, but I’ve waved my white flag and started letting my high expectations go a bit.
Teletherapy has been difficult as Teddy is already flighty, and it’s hard to keep him focused in front of the iPad or computer during the sessions. It’s constant running back and forth and redirecting him. Although I feel like a failure when he doesn’t have good sessions, I also make sure to celebrate the tiny victories when he does well and relive it by telling the family his little successes for the day and replay it in my head. I often share those tiny victories in my Instagram Stories and save them in my Highlights and rewatch them as a constant reminder of how hard he works and of the progress he’s made over the years.
Who are some people in your digital community that provide comfort and support right now?
Along with my amazing team, there are so many amazing people in our digital community that has provided comfort and support. Caitlin Kruse of @themamanotes has been a blessing with sharing all of her tips and tricks for keeping the kids busy at home, working from home as a parent, but also being so candid, honest, and genuine about imperfection, daily failures, and just going with the flow. Even the Sago Mini (@sagomini) team has been helpful with Teddy and their new preschool app by answering my questions, giving ideas, and feedback for homeschooling!
You always have an open ear and are ready to help your team. How have you been able to cultivate that practice as a leader?
I’ll be candid and tell you that I’m bad at asking for help. I usually suffer in silence and try to handle everything on my own until I break. I’ve been getting better at that during the past few weeks, and I’m so grateful to have such a supportive and understanding husband, partners, and team who have helped me tremendously.