Flexibility, empathy, and setting boundaries were among the key themes that Laura Main, Managing Director for Quantcast Canada, addressed when the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) invited her to host a CMAcafe workshop on a subject she is all too familiar with: balancing work and parenthood during the pandemic. Her situation, entering her fifteenth month of juggling working from home and online learning for her two children aged 6 and 8, is particularly relatable for other burnt-out working parents. Joined by a group of 15 marketing professionals from organizations such as HSBC, Scotiabank, and Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada, Laura shared her advice for navigating this balancing act.
As Laura acknowledged, “Whether you are a single parent, parent of a toddler, or single adult, finding a balance has been extremely challenging during the pandemic.” Based on her personal experience, she shared her top three learnings over the past year:
- Flexibility: During the early days of the pandemic, many struggled to find a balance between work and home life. Flexibility provided relief, whether it was helping your children with schoolwork or finding time later to review your emails. She stressed: “It is important to realize that flexibility can help alleviate the stress of deadlines, task lists, and demanding children. Have a conversation with your stakeholders to explain your situation. Where you can, provide flexibility to yourself and your team.”
- Empathy: Seek to understand what others are going through and voice what you are going through. “The pandemic has had different impacts on everyone. Whether you are alone or have a busy household, burnout is real,” Laura said, and with the lack of socialization between colleagues, it is often difficult to gauge if others are going through personal challenges. “The human connection can be lost while working from home. My motto has been to be easy on my team and on myself.”
- Setting Boundaries: Setting a daily routine can help carve out very important personal time. Laura explained that she involves her children in creating a daily routine that includes physical activity and structured activities as well as free time. “I try to maintain a daily routine; however, I understand that some days the schedule will fly out the window,” she admits.
The workshop concluded with a discussion on the importance of taking care of yourself, and ensuring you have a mental health routine, which can be meditation, going for a walk throughout the day, or even just a coffee break at home. “Making sure you take time for yourself will effectively make you a better version of yourself, for your kids and for your colleagues,” Laura said. She concluded that the pandemic has taught her important lessons that she will carry forward as a leader at home and at work. Flexibility, empathy and setting boundaries will allow for a better work-life balance that, in turn, will put value on mental health. Finally, she joked: “I am extremely grateful for the time I’ve had at home with my children, but I am excited that it is summer because my kids are at overnight camp.”