Being a working parent is no easy task, especially during a pandemic. At Carbon Five, we’re constantly striving to build an inclusive environment where everyone feels supported and valued — parents included.
We spoke to three Carbon Five moms about how the past year has changed their views on work/life balance, how they’ve juggled work and family time while working from home, and what their families are looking forward most to post-pandemic.
How have you been balancing work and family time during the pandemic?
I gave birth to my son Ari 17 months ago, in November 2019. I stayed home with him for about four months, and a week after I went back to the office, we shut down for COVID-19. It was pretty hard to work from home with a baby, and at first I tried to look at the pandemic as an opportunity to have more family time — maybe try to have lunch together as a family, once Ari was able to eat solid food.
But I realized it was hard having Ari around during the day, even though my husband, Raz, and I are both at home. We decided to enroll him into a daycare, and although it wasn’t the dream we had in mind, things have been going great. We have more time to ourselves — for example, I’ve been able to start painting for fun. I think finding that balance has been key.
How has the pandemic changed how you think about work/life balance?
My life is completely different since COVID happened and my son was born! I’m happy that we’re going back to the office in January because I’m missing the social aspect of working there, but at the same time, I’m glad that we’ll have the flexibility to work from home two days a week — I feel like I can do a lot more when I’m at home, whether it’s Ari stuff, or chores.
My husband is thinking about not going back to work in his office at all, which would help us balance having Ari home and at daycare. The pandemic has really opened a new world of opportunities for our family. It was a nightmare at first, but it’s been relatively easy and fun since we’ve figured things out.
What does success as a parent mean to you?
For me, it’s being able to finish work before my son gets home. Also, being able to squeeze a load of laundry during my lunch break. So that when he gets home, I’m free to just play with Ari, and I can focus on doing things with him instead of trying to multitask on all the other things that need to be done. That’s success for me.
What are you looking forward to doing with your family post-pandemic?
I can’t wait for the next Thanksgiving in the office. Every year around Thanksgiving, people bring their kids to the office and we have a big meal together — it’s a really nice tradition. During the last Thanksgiving celebration in the office, I was pregnant, and I went into labor after the party and Ari was born that night. I can’t wait to bring him with me next time!
What’s the parenting community like at Carbon Five?
We have a Slack channel for parents, which is a nice place for venting, sharing, and asking questions. When my son, Miles, wanted to get more into Minecraft, I asked about it there because I knew I would get answers. It’s an interesting community because there are more dads than moms, and it’s been cool to see what dads think and what they care about, and the roles that they’re playing in their own families.
I was actually the first female employee at Carbon Five to have a child, so they had to figure out their maternity leave policy for me! The project that I got put on when I came back from maternity leave was pretty intense and jumping right back in was challenging, and I think they’ve since backed away from assigning people to projects like that right when they return. They also created the Mother’s Room for me in the San Francisco office – I brought in a quilt and couch to make it more cozy, and the room is still there for others to use today. Overall I think Carbon Five took everything to heart from that experience and got their policies and procedures really dialed in. They were lovely about it, and it was an interesting place to be a new mother.
How has the pandemic changed how you think about work/life balance?
Before COVID, I would usually leave the office at 4:50 to be able to pick Miles by 6 from aftercare. It worked well enough, but there were certainly moments where it was stressful wondering if I could get across the bridge to Oakland in time to pick him up. And it’s only now that I’m working 15 minutes away from his school that I realize just how stressful that was. When I think about what life is going to be like after I go back to the office, I really don’t want to recreate that feeling.
He would often be one of the last kids waiting to be picked up, and in hindsight it makes me feel bad to think about what a long day that created, especially for a kindergartener. I don’t know what our routine will look like after the pandemic is over, but I would like to create something different. Carbon Five is a flexible and supportive place to work, and after everything we have endured over the past year, I hope that people will feel more emboldened to do whatever they need to do to create a better work/life balance.
Is there an activity that you and Miles have gotten into together during this past year that you’ve enjoyed?
We just started piano lessons — he and I are both taking them together, and we’re able to do it in-person. That’s been really great for him, and we’ll keep it going after the pandemic is over. We’ve also been taking “afternoon adventures” around the area. I’ll block off some time on my calendar to prevent meetings from being scheduled, and we’ll usually bring snacks or get food and have a picnic in the car on the way to, or from, an afternoon adventure. It feels like life is slowly starting to get a little more normal.
What’s been the key to balancing work and family time?
Having a partnership with my husband Daniel makes a big difference, because we can pretty much tag-team the two little girls. Before COVID, we had a lot of help from our extended family, but once the pandemic hit and everyone had to shelter in place, we didn’t have anyone coming over to our house, for their safety and for our safety.
During that initial phase of transition, it was quite difficult. But as time went on, we started getting into more of a routine and we’d have a schedule mapped out: “All right, this hour I have a meeting. So maybe, you can take the kids,” or, “On this day I’m pretty back-to-back on assignments and deadlines. Maybe you can watch them for the day.” Once we started to get in the groove of knowing each other’s work schedules a little bit better, that was quite helpful for us.
How has the pandemic changed the way you think about work/life balance?
While it’s been difficult trying to figure out routines and scheduling, and watching the kids on our own, working remotely has been quite nice in some ways. Everyone’s home on time for dinner, and being able to peek in on the kids throughout the day — when I have a break or a breather — is nice, just to have more of that family time.
It’s also forced me to think more about making boundaries at home. For example, having set hours for work time, and also having hours just for family time. The pandemic has brought things more in perspective in terms of being on work and off work.
Is there an activity that you and your kids have enjoyed doing together during this time?
There’s been a lot more pillow fort making, playdoh time, and lego building. I feel like our living room is in a constant tornado of toys, pillows, books, and blankets, everywhere all the time!
It has been fun, especially with our four year old — I’m starting to see her imagination grow as she’s starting to learn lots of new things. And she can grasp different concepts more easily now. So that’s been fun to see, all the different storylines and games, and things that she’ll come up with to play to pass the time.
What’s it like to be a working parent at Carbon Five?
It’s a great place to work. The leadership team has always been very flexible with scheduling, so if there are certain things that are happening at home that you need to deal with, you can just deal with them, no questions asked.
Also, I went on maternity leave during my first year at Carbon Five. At the end of the year, I was still recognized for the work I did and granted a raise. I thought that was pretty cool because at most companies, it often feels like you’re very unlikely to get a pay increase if you go on leave for part of the year. But at Carbon Five, it happened organically — I didn’t have to fight for it or defend myself for the hard work I did. It made me feel appreciated and valued as a team member, and it solidified for me that Carbon Five is a place that values parents and family, and gives you recognition for the work that you do.
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