A Busy Mom Trades Travel For Working From Home

An interview with Katie Doviak, Senior Account Executive at TargetX

Is working from home new to you or are you a work from home veteran? How are you adjusting to the new normal?

Throughout my 14 year career, my job has required me to travel out of state on average 2-3 days a week. While the recent mandate to work from home has been a big adjustment for the majority of the workforce, working from home is not new to me, as I work from my home on the days I am not on traveling. With that said, the restrictions on my ability to travel have had a significant impact on my work environment as I am typically on-site every week.  With limitations on travel,  my colleagues and I have had to restructure our traditional in-person meetings and conduct more of our interactions with clients in a virtual environment.  While working for a technology-based company has made the shift to a completely virtual environment seamless for our whole company, it has been an adjustment for some of our clients as they have come to expect on-site interactions.

What is your general routine?

When I am home, my routine starts with getting my two kids ready for school and then heading to my home office. My day is filled with internal and external phone calls, web meetings, and planning for my next on-site visit.  While I have hectic days, I have the ability to control my schedule, which allows me to focus on getting work done and not about how many hours I’m working.  With this approach, I find time to work out in the middle of the day, run an errand, or even volunteer from time to time at the kid’s school. While there are freedoms to controlling your schedule, there are many late nights and long days responding to client requests. With the recent quarantine, my at-home schedule has changed significantly,  because not only am I quarantined at my home but I have to balance my schedule with my husband’s work schedule as well as ensuring my kids stay up to date on their school work.

How do you ensure you do not get distracted by things to do around the house?

I try my best to maintain a regular routine which helps minimize the distractions that could impact my work. For me, I get distracted by the clutter in my home.  It is important to make sure that my house is in order,  I schedule time in my day to make sure dishes are done, laundry is folded and toys are picked up.   If I start my day with an organized mindset, allow for time to keep the clutter at bay, I find that I am less distracted and able to focus more on work.

What is your set up like? (Technology etc)

I have a laptop and cell phone so I am able to travel easily and work on the road in airports, hotels, cars, coffee shops, literally anywhere.  At home, that same flexibility has been helpful to be able to travel from my office, upstairs, the basement or even outside when there is too much background noise.

How is having your 2 daughters at home impacted your routine?

Let’s just say, my routine has changed slightly.  To give you a glimpse of my day,  today I reviewed a Request For Proposal with a coworker on a web meeting, while simultaneously giving my 7-year-old spelling words.  When I said the word “what” my coworker repeated himself. I laughed and said, “sorry that wasn’t a question to you”.  I wasn’t muted when giving that spelling word. Jokes aside, my routine has changed.  Instead of prepping for the next call, I prep the girls to make sure they know what they are working on for the next 30-60 mins.  It also has required some prep work each night to make a list of items for them to work on the next day.  I have seen a lot of people set a schedule for their kids down to the hour.  While this is great it won’t work for our house like every day my schedule of calls changes.  We have found the list of activities gives guidance but we complete what we can when we can.

What does remote learning look like for them?

The biggest thing with a 6 and 7-year-old at home is making sure that they have something to do that keeps their attention, and with two working parents also don’t require a lot of guidance.  Last week my kids were on Spring Break so it was a bit of a free for all which we quickly learned was not going to work.  This week the school has sent projects and a rough schedule with about 2 hours of work each day.  The challenge for us and many other working parents is that the workday is longer than the school day. We have had some help so far this week as grandparents have Facetime the girls to help them practice their reading when both my husband and I have had work calls.  My daughter’s kindergarten teacher has recorded herself reading books that can be watched anytime.  Of course, there are also online videos like the ones the Cincinnati Zoo is producing that make me so glad we renewed our membership this year and support such a great organization!

What tips do you have for people that are working from home with kids?

Remember so many people are in the same boat and will understand if you are on a phone call and they hear your kids in the background.  Also, if possible don’t try and cram everything from your normal workday into 8-5.  If there are things you can do in the evenings once the kids go to bed that will make the next day less stressful do it.  There are a lot of things in everyone’s workday that don’t really matter when you do it, as long as you do it.

Considering the 24 strengths, what strengths do you think will help you and your girls through this new reality?