2820Sherrie reads to AmayaInclusion

Lessons learned from 6 months as a caregiver during COVID

When everything shut down in March, I found myself working from home with my 3-year-old daughter while my newly laid off husband hunted for jobs. Six months later, we’re...

Sherrie reads to her daughterSherrie shares her struggle and explains why she decided to help found the Parents & Caregivers Inclusion Resource Group at Indeed

Sherrie is a Founder and Americas Co-Chair for the Parents & Caregivers Inclusion Resource Group. She leads Product Marketing for Indeed’s small and medium business products, and she’s mom to Amaya (Dec 2016) and wife to Andy, her high school sweetheart. Sherrie enjoys puzzles, yoga, swimming, reading, and learning to be a plant mom. She was also recently nominated for the Austin Under 40 Awards in the Technology category.

When everything shut down in March, I found myself working from home with my 3-year-old daughter while my newly laid off husband hunted for jobs. Six months later, we’re still navigating this pandemic and what it looks like to work from home. 

As Indeed’s head of HR, Paul Wolfe says, “you’re not ‘working from home’ — you’re at home, during a crisis, trying to work” all while trying to care for others. 

Caring for others looks different for everyone – from laboring moms wearing their masks to the elderly seeking treatment alone in the hospital. Parents have sent young kids back to daycare with a mix of fear and relief, grade school parents are now starting the year virtually, and college parents are helping their young adults navigate independent life away from home.

Taking action

Sherrie shares cookies with her daughterThroughout all the chaos, one of the ways I felt I could help manage the situation was to control what I could at work and at home. I set up a schedule and activities for my daughter at home and blocked time on my calendar for caregiving. I also kicked off the Parents & Caregivers Inclusion Resource Group (IRG) at Indeed with an internal #wfh-parents Slack channel, which gained over 700 members in a week’s time. 

The channel is a place where parents and caregivers can share knowledge, vent about our shared struggles, and support one another.

A new reality 

Trying to lighten the mood of the moment, I recently posted the video below showing a day in the life of a caregiver, a fun and playful take that unfortunately doesn’t tell the whole story.

What it misses are the toddler meltdowns, the guilt, the tiredness that comes with balancing another’s needs with the needs of an average work day.

Ironically, caregivers know how to give care, but often neglect to take care of themselves. The reality is, parents are spending 30 hours a week on caregiving on top of their average workload.

Now, with the added role of educator for some, parents are working 3 full time jobs in a day and only getting paid for one. 

Finding communitySherrie and family

Everyone’s situation is unique. Our Slack community has provided a space to connect and be seen. Employees are engaging, vulnerable, and supportive. 

In these 6 months, I’ve met a dad who upgraded his wheelchair-bound son’s desk space to get ready for school; heard from a friend who actively tries to shield her black son from the news because he doesn’t need reminders of his lived experience; and talked to a husband who takes breaks during the day to give his wife hormone injections as they go through IVF. 

Another mom introduced herself to the group, expressed gratitude for Indeed’s fertility benefits, and then let us know she recently miscarried. One of my former teammates told me her father passed away from COVID, and she’s trying to support her mom while wrangling her 3 kids. With all of this going on, we still log on, answer that email, and collaborate with our teams; sometimes work is our break from life. 

Two truths

Sherrie's daughter Amaya at a laptop with the screen that says "I help people get jobs."

Sherrie’s daughter, Amaya, sitting next to mommy’s work mission

We love contributing to the incredible mission of helping people get jobs, and we love our family. So how do we juggle both? The truth is, we can’t. Each moment ends up being a choice, and often when it comes to keeping our children safe or an everyday work moment, it’s really not a choice at all. 

Unfortunately, work-life conflict has existed for a long time because we’ve kept our two identities separate. With remote work, the two have collided.

It’s equally freeing and painfully uncomfortable. Indeed is a place that provides a lot of freedom: incredible benefits, which includes weekly therapy sessions, parental leave, unlimited time off, and a culture of inclusion and belonging. But as with everything, we have opportunities for improvement, which is where the work of the Parents & Caregivers (IRG) comes in.

Launching an Inclusion Resource Group in a Pandemic

As the 10th and most recently formed IRG at Indeed, we find that caregiving is an intersectional identity that impacts members across all groups. We have members who care for the elderly and family members with disabilities. We have Black, Brown, Asian, Latinx, LGBTQ+ caregivers, and those who are veterans.

We also have parents of fully grown children, soon-to-be parents, and those just returning to the workplace from parental leave – our members live all over the world from Japan to Canada.

What’s Working

Sherrie and her daughter in the poolI mentioned before the power of our community. Right now, most of our engagement happens on Slack, but it’s bigger than the platform. It’s a space to be seen, connect with colleagues, and uplift one another. When I talk to members, they feel most validated knowing they’re not alone in the struggle of this pandemic. 

Our Senior Leadership Team constantly acknowledges the struggles we face, and they openly express frustration that they can’t solve this crisis as many are experiencing the effects themselves. Folks are also coming together to provide support beyond the initial #wfh-parents with channels like #wfh-school-help and #eldercare-chats. 

We also find that humor and joy are pivotal. For a few weeks, we played a game where everyone told their current home situation and replaced their kids with “my coworker”: Today, my coworker (15mo) had a meltdown and threatened to quit when she couldn’t find her bellybutton under a pair of overalls. And another game of “what do your kids say when you ask them what you do for work?”

  • Social Media Specialist: My 2 year old daughter – “I talk to peoples.”
  • Software Engineer: My 6 year old son  says “I type random words on the computer”
  • Manager, Einstein Analytics:  “ma-ma-ba-ba-ba-DADA”
  • Senior Account Executive: “make money”
  • Internal Communications for TA: “Mommy talks to her friends about how tired everyone is all the time”

Off Slack and onto Zoom, we bring our kids to the Black Inclusion Group’s Verzuz battles, in which two DJs pair up live and compete to decide who has the better playlist. It’s been a fun way to break up the work day and entertain our kids. We also attended iPride’s dance parties during Pride Month and the GenderCool Project where trans youth shared their stories. Next month, we’ll be hosting a storytime series where IRG leaders and our executives will read their favorite children’s books about diversity and inclusion.

What Could Be Better

We need allies who both recognize our struggles and validate our worth. Acknowledge our families, ask how they’re doing, and most importantly, remind us to take care of ourselves and leverage our mental health resources. Help us set attainable goals and measurable outcomes, and give us the autonomy to manage our own time.

Whether we’ve accepted it or not, we’re in this for the long haul, and we need to pace ourselves. We all need to come together to support caregivers. Our teams, our company, and our society depend on it.

Learn about some of the other challenges parents and caregivers are facing on Indeed Community.

Tips from other Parents & Caregivers

During August, we’ve been sharing tips from Parents & Caregivers on our #insideindeed Instagram. Below is the advice they gave for dealing with parenting in a pandemic.

April #insideindeed Austin

“One thing I recommend keeping in mind is that uninterrupted working time for parents is incredibly rare. What may seem like a quick, 30-minute check-in via zoom to you may be a logistical nightmare for a parent; an exercise in keeping their kids safe, adequately entertained, and quiet. Checking-in on each meeting before scheduling it and determining if the content can be handled via email instead can make all the difference.” -April, #insideindeed Austin

Patrick #insideindeed Düsseldorf

“The change that suddenly came when the kindergarten was closed was particularly difficult. It was very challenging to meet the needs of my 5-year-old son, the expectations towards myself as a father, and to make him happy with the new situation. I am sure that it hit a lot of people. Above all, for me, being part of the Parents & Caregivers Inclusion Resource Group means creating a sense of belonging and not leaving the Parents & Caregivers alone with their challenges and feelings in these times.” – Patrick, #insideindeed Düsseldorf

 

Maria and her daughter

Maria #insideindeed Foster City

“Not being afraid to ask for help is the single most important thing you can do for yourself. I have been fortunate to have a supportive manager and my team is one of the best set of people I have worked with. That said, support can come in multiple forms. One of the most meaningful benefits at Indeed is the virtual counseling sessions available through Support Linc. If you are a parent/caregiver – Yes, the struggle is real but know that you are not alone!” – Maria, #insideindeed Foster City

The mission of the Parents & Caregivers Inclusion Resource Group at Indeed is to foster a sense of belonging for all parents and caregivers, so they can thrive at work throughout all stages of the caregiving journey. 

Learn more about how Indeed is Here to Help parents and caregivers in the video below.

Read about Mun-Yee’s experience coming back to work post-maternity leave or Stuart’s story about being a work from home dad with 5 kids.

As we get ready for back to school, Meet the Teachers of Indeed in this post from our #insideindeed culture blog.

Learn more about Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging at Indeed.

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