Parents at eyeo: How caretakers are managing the pandemic
Ann-Lee Chou explains how she is juggling her work as a Senior UX Researcher and family life in these challenging times
Like many different groups, parents and caretakers have been particularly burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic. This doesn’t even speak to the everyday challenges that come with being a working parent even before the world shut down. In this interview series, we cast the spotlight on the amazing mothers and fathers at eyeo to show how they’re handling and sharing care work in their families, what kind of support helped them during the lockdown and their best tips to bring back some normalcy to everyday life.
What is your background and how did you come to eyeo?
I’m a UX Researcher at eyeo, I’ve worked in multiple teams during my time at eyeo so far – Branding (current), in the last couple of years was on the mobile team (Adblock Browser), and before ABP for desktop and briefly Flattr. My background is in Psychology, and I worked in product marketing before making a career change to UX Research. I joined eyeo back in 2014, when there were less than 30 employees! I’d heard an interesting interview with eyeo’s CEO Till Faida on npr.org (US-based public radio), then happened to see a job posting on Indeed.com, so I applied.
How is your family situation?
I have one son who’s 8 years old and in the second grade. My husband and I work 32/30 hours a week (respectively), and this is how we’re able to share the child care work as much as possible.
How did you manage care work and job during covid?
Early on it became clear that trying to do several things at the same time (i.e. work + home schooling) meant that none of the things got done well or got the attention they deserved, and everything (and everyone) suffered. The reality is that, when I tried to simultaneously work and home school, I not only got nothing done, I came away feeling more stressed and burnt out. So, the corona family care is a huge help in maintaining my mental sanity.
In the first shutdown, Kurz Arbeit (i.e. worked part-time hours or less) enabled my husband to work less (half as much as normal) and contribute (a lot) more to child care, home schooling and household tasks. This made it possible for us to more or less split everything, including child care.
In this current shutdown, my husband’s job is not as flexible this time, so we’ve used a combo of ‘child sick days’ (husband), corona family care and also the ‘emergency care’ (Notbetreuung) offered by the school.
What kind of support helped you and are there things that would’ve helped you even more ?
The first shutdown was really challenging because there was no distance learning setup. His teacher did give some worksheets and suggestions, but we, as parents, had to become the teacher, creating daily schedules and supporting our son through them. The hardest part was keeping our son engaged and motivated in school work, which dropped dramatically as the shutdown dragged on.
In this current shutdown, the distance learning is much more organized and structured, with a daily and a weekly plan, a weekly packet of worksheets, and daily zoom calls with the teacher, where new concepts are taught. This makes it much easier and more transparent for us to know how to support our son.
My ideal would be for the government to think beyond ‘closing school’ vs. ‘not closing school’ – as the only two solutions. For example, there’s a private group of parents at school who are trying to organize and fundraise to purchase ventilators for the classroom. This and other similar preventative measures (i.e. finding more classroom space, setting up classrooms outside when the weather permits, regular testing for teachers…) should be considered and implemented, if it means it could keep schools open either part-time or full-time, even in the face of another shutdown.
What proactive ways do you bring ‘normalcy’ to your life?
To spend more time outdoors and get out of the house, we try to go hiking or biking every weekend, and do a ‘picnic’ lunchas part of this excursion. Through this we’ve explored more of the NRW than I think we would have had it not been for Corona limiting the types of activities we can do on a weekend. We also try to do movie nights on Fridays, as a little reward for hard work during homeschooling, and to give us parents a break!