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Merging Work and Home: How Product Management Kept My Family Sane During The Pandemic

As you probably know, being a parent can often be quite challenging, but doing so while maintaining a full-time job makes things even harder. It requires us to compromise, prioritize, and let things go. This is the essence of being a working parent, and step by step we learn to master the ability to control our time, our tasks, and our busy lives.

Prioritization and task management has always been my home base. It’s what I do all day long: in my job as a Product Manager, at home as a mom of two toddlers under three years old, and in my personal life (with what time I have left).

It felt like I had just adjusted to being a working mom of two -- with the help of my family and my managers at Innovid -- and had found a healthy, stable, and fulfilling work-life balance when the pandemic hit. Nothing could have prepared me for COVID-19.

I had only been back from maternity leave for a few months when the third lockdown began here in Israel. Although I was just entering a new product domain and still figuring things out work-wise, I felt confident that with some calendar adjustments and external help, my hubby and I would be able to make it through.

Well, I was wrong. Very wrong.

It felt like chaos entered our house and everything spun out of control. I found myself always chasing the kids around and wasn’t able to complete my tasks, organize my work, or manage my kids’ schedules. Our days weren’t organized, my husband's and my schedule were always overlapping, our meetings were interrupted constantly, and we just felt exhausted when the day was over.

Then it hit me: I simply wasn’t being a good Product Manager at my second job, the mom job. I didn’t plan in advance or take into account all potential scenarios. I didn’t define my workday objectives, I didn’t adjust my house to meet these new working and living conditions. I didn’t collaborate with my stakeholders (aka babysitters, husband, and family members). Most importantly, I didn’t fully understand how lockdown would affect my little tiny users.

I thought that improvisation would work at home and that there was no need to worry or plan in advance, but COVID-19 and the lockdown proved me wrong.

By the end of the second week of lockdown, my inner Product Manager signaled to me that planning is the key solution, and that I would have to build a plan if I wanted to stay sane. So, my husband and I joined forces and came up with a plan to create a consistent and aligned schedule that will help with our main objective which was to allow both of us to work continuously for at least half of the day:

  • We synced our calendars and aligned our kids’ schedules, making sure they ate and napped together.
  • We identified weak spots, like lunch and dinner times, and blocked them off on our calendars.
  • We always had one of us available as a backup in case the babysitter needed help (contingency plans are a must!).
  • We added buffers to allow ourselves to deal with unexpected situations.
  • We made adjustments to our house and prepared all activities in advance.
  • We outsourced where we could - food, cleaning, errands.
  • We prioritized our to-dos.

Finally after organizing our days and syncing our schedules , we started to feel like we were controlling the situation and not the other way around. And I was even able to find some ‘me’ time!

Looking back, I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure this out. I guess there is a mindset separation between how we operate at work and how we operate at home.

Now more than ever, I understand that various aspects of my life, whether personal or professional, are best led with a good plan -- especially when times are difficult. We need to remind ourselves to stop and examine our lives and the situations we are in, think about our objectives, accept the limitations, and work towards a plan that we'll feel comfortable with. From my experience, it will not only help simplify and organize your days, but it will also give you control, stability, and comfort.

Topics: Women In Tech, working from home, COVID-19, product management, working moms

 
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