How We Work: Kim Ayala
I was on a video conference call recently with one of my clients. His name is Ted. My 3-year-old son came up to my desk. His name is Teddy.
Without thinking, I just automatically said: “Do you need to go potty, Teddy?” My client just burst into laughter. He said, “Well, nobody has asked me today, but I’m OK right now.”
That pretty much captures my life as I juggle work and home.
I had already been working remotely for the last several years – and loving it. I have an office here at my home. I’m used to connecting with customers and my coworkers on Zoom and Skype. It’s nice playing some classical music in the background and just zoning out on my work.
Title: Director of Account Management
Role: Working to develop deeper relationships with existing Dynamic Signal customers. Recipient of the 2020 Customer Success Team’s Rookie of the Year Award
Home: Newington, Conn.
Family: Husband Eric, son Teddy, dog Mollie
But then the daycare that my son attends had to temporarily close because of the pandemic.
Now, I have this little minion behind me, asking for snacks every five minutes! My husband is an essential worker as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. It’s just me doing two full-time jobs during the day.
Let me pause right here for a moment and say that I’m well-aware of how lucky I am. So many families are coping with real hardships. I’m thankful to work for a company that’s genuinely concerned about the welfare of employees and that I have an amazing husband. (More on him in a moment.) People who know me will also tell you that I always look for the humor in any situation.
But other working parents – especially moms – probably can relate.
I certainly never thought for a second that this would be so crazy stressful. It has been an adventure filled with challenges that I never anticipated.
I’ll be on a conference call, and I’ll hear a crash in the other room. There’s nothing I can really do about it. I have to brace myself for what I’ll see when I can walk out there. My house has never been messier. I feel like I’m constantly cleaning. Instead of classical music, I’m playing cartoons on my second monitor. That’s because I’ve set up a cozy corner in my office for Teddy with pillows and blankets.
I used to be one of those helicopter moms who monitored his screen-time usage, and his sugar intake, his juice. Now? All of that has gone right out the window. It’s just a free-for-all. He gets whatever he wants. Will you leave me alone for the next 30 minutes? Great! Take it!
We like Teddy’s daycare program because he gets to do all kinds of things like cooking classes and karate. Now, I’m thinking about how to make his day meaningful and enable him to continue to learn. I’m spending hours on Sunday preparing activities for him to do throughout the week. I feel like a teacher working on my lesson plans.
In the middle of all this, I got a promotion.
So, I’ve been ramping on a new role. Excelling at my job is a big part of who I am. But a few weeks ago, it all began to feel overwhelming. I had to tell my husband that I need some reinforcements.
Eric has the longest postal route in the state of Connecticut. It’s a rural route, so he sees more wildlife than people. (That’s a relief during this pandemic.) He talked to his boss and was able to work out a schedule where he has one day off during the week. It’s a lifesaver because now I can just sit at my desk and focus on work in a way that allows me to catch up. I feel like I can breathe again.
I guess I would end with this: I have a new sense of gratitude for our regular work arrangement. It’s shown me what it would be like if we couldn’t afford childcare. It’s opened my eyes to some of the challenges that other parents probably face all the time. I’ve just been privileged enough to not think about it until now. It’s helped put things in perspective.
Five Questions with Kim
What social distancing technology are you using?
Zoom. Slack. Teams. Email. I also use our Dynamic Signal platform, which we call Dispatch, all the time.
What’s your new work attire?
I’ve become more casual. I would get up every morning, do my hair and makeup, and put on professional clothes. That was the way I would get into my work frame-of-mind even though I was only going into my home office. But I can’t get dressed up anymore because I’m going to have jelly on my shirt later when my son comes up to hug me. I know I’m going to get dirty pretty quickly.
What makes your new workspace unique?
The cozy corner is definitely unique! I’ve got a toy box filled with dinosaurs and trucks and all sorts of stuff that wouldn’t normally be in my office. I’ve got a PAW Patrol table in here, too. It’s complete chaos. It’s been taken over.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve experienced?
It tugs on my heartstrings when I have to disappoint Teddy. He always asks me, “Mom, will you play with me?” He doesn’t understand that I might have to take a call. He thinks it’s a choice. I can see the pain in his eyes. Mommy doesn’t want to play with me. It’s a constant heartbreak. He’s at an age where there’s nothing I can do to explain this in a way that he will fully grasp. So, he feels like second place. That emotional piece of guilt is the hardest part for me as a mom. He’s my one and only.
What’s something that keeps you sane?
Long drives on the weekend. We spend a lot of time outside in our backyard having picnics or playing with Teddy. Regular FaceTime with friends and family. And wine. Plenty of wine.