For many parents, even helping our children with nightly homework is sometimes a challenge. And, now, amid unprecedented times – many of us are not only having to change how and where we work, but we’re also having to add becoming a ‘distance learning teacher’ to our resumes.
Luckily, through Cisco’s technology and culture, I’ve been able to work remotely during my career. Cisco not only places value on work/life integration, but also the need to focus on our families – ourselves – and when (and where) we do our best work from. That looks a little different these days, and it’s changed for many of us.
Recently, like so many others, I went from being a working parent (I’m a Cisco Project Manager Delivery Lead for our Customer Experience teams) and “Lincoln’s Mom” to, additionally, a middle school teacher for the forseeable future to my son – all at the same time. I couldn’t even spell parallelogram, let alone teach 6th grade math! And while it was another time commitment I hadn’t planned on; I knew this role would be one of the most important.
As a single mom to a boy with anxiety – the critical question quickly became how to balance my load and his.
The #1 key to my success though has been working for a company where I feel supported. Immediately, my leadership and team at Cisco were ‘all in.’ Not only did they understand that we might need time to adjust to our new routines, but they were also there to help as best they could. My manager wasted no time in telling me, “Do what you need to do, we’ve got your back.” And during one meeting, she even said, “Everyone bring your kids out, let’s meet them!” (This is something that’s happening throughout the company, too.)
In addition to that, my teammates have stepped up in a way I could never imagine. Some have offered to help Lincoln with the parallelograms I don’t understand or have told me, “I’m an English-Lit major, I can help Lincoln with reading class.” A co-worker sent us our favorite movies as a gift – reminding us to have some downtime. And another even offered to do 200 jumping jacks with my son over Webex.
This means everything to me because all these virtual interactions, not only show how incredible my team is, but they bring a much-needed smile and a moment of relief during a stressful time.
Here’s how I’m using technology to help teach my son:
1. Cisco Webex: Sign your kids up with a Webex account right now, because it is free! This week Cisco’s CEO Chuck Robbins said that there were 5.5 billion meeting minutes used on Webex. Why not start developing your child’s skills in virtual meetings now? They can use Webex to do homework with their friends or, perhaps, you can have family or friends jump in as a virtual teacher on a subject or assignment you might not understand yourself.
2. Technology – I think all of us can agree that teaching kids’ technology sooner rather than later can give them a great jump start in their career. Cisco’s Network Academy is a global platform that inspires students and instructors while putting theory and hands-on-experience into practice. This goes great with Lincoln’s coding class too!
If you need to entertain your kids while you work, have them watch Cisco’s Global Problem Solvers. It is an animated show where they get to watch a team solve real world issues.
3. Health & Wellness – This is a great opportunity to bond with your child! My workout routine has gone out the door, but he has gym class. So, we are doing it together by including some online videos so that we can learn to dance together. Dance prevents dementia by 76% (my benefit) and you can burn over 500 calories an hour (we both benefit). There are also many great yoga and kid workout videos online, and I’ve even incorporated a daily meditation for kids using an online app.
4. Music – I let him sing his heart out to music while he works. Not only is music soothing for the soul, I know I need noise in the background to focus on working and he works best this way too.
5. Write the teachers and thank them for being superheroes! Most of them are available to help your child virtually, and now – more than ever – we see the superpowers of these daily educators who treat our kids as they are their own. So, sit down with your kids and write them thank you notes!
6. Reward vs. Consequence: There’s not a lot of tech here, but it’s been working for us – so I wanted to add it. For every argument, he must go to bed 10 minutes earlier. For a job well done, he earns reward buttons that I call “Cha-chings” – when he earns enough rewards, he can trade them in for a fun prize. The ultimate reward at the end of all of this is that he will get a handmade “Get Out of Trouble Free” card. Trust me parents, this is always his favorite of any reward!
7. Post your tips and what you’re finding success with on social media – ask for people to share theirs as well. We all grow in this together. The more we share, the more success we’ll have.
In this stressful time, I know my son feeds off my energy. So, it is even more crucial for me to remain as calm as possible. Easier said than done, I know. On day three, I locked myself in the bathroom for 10 minutes as I tried to come to an agreement on how we would send the homework to his teachers.
This is a journey. I know I am not going to get it right all the time and I realize I need to cut myself a break as much as I need to cut him one too. But, making this journey slightly easier, is knowing that my Cisco team – and Cisco tech – are there when I need them most.
With just two minutes before I have to hop on a call, Lincoln walks out, “Mom, before you get on a call, can I negotiate one thing with you about my homework?”
It will be my most challenging negotiation of the day, but for now I suggest a hug with 30-minutes of game time later in the day – we can negotiate after.
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Excellent article. I don’t have any young children at home any longer however I read this and it literally brought tears to my eyes. Not only because you have a wonderful team but because of how much you are doing and giving as a parent. Kudos to you Jodi!
Thank you, Linda, for these beautiful words of yours. It’s day-by-day…the other day I quickly made him blueberry muffins before a meeting and forgot the blueberries. He said they were the best muffins I ever made. 🙂
I loved your text. Keep going good luck
And all the best
Thank you, my friend. Hope you and your loved ones are all safe and secure in Lebanon.
Great read, nice to know our challenges at home are similar 🙂
Thank you, my IG friend and good luck to you!
Thank you for sharing! It is a crazy time for all and these are some great tips and reminder that we are in this together. We DO work for the best company!
Thank you and yes, we do work for the best company!!!
Nice article, congratulations!
I don’t have kids yet but I am kind of the coolest uncle ever, at least that is what I think LOL. Big part of my success as an uncle is that I have always thought that kids are the smartest people on earth, so I treat them accordingly. It is easy to win their trust when they realize the respect is reciprocal.
Thanks for sharing these tips. You are the best!
Aunts and uncles are everything! I am sure they feel so blessed to have you.
Loved this Jodi!
awesome tips that i will put in practice right away :)!
All my recognition for you and your awesome team :D!
Thank you so much, Beatriz. Our team adores your Mexico City team. So grateful we got to connect in person.
Was a good article and relieved to hear handling with kids has its common struggles.
Thank you! We are all in this together!
Awesome read with great insights/suggestions!! You never cease to amaze me and bring a smile to my face, Jodi.
Thanks, Joe. You’re the best and such an amazing cheerleader!
I love the ‘Get out of Trouble Free Card’ – trying it with the 6 year old! Thanks for taking the time to write the article Jodi!
It seriously works. However, as they get smarter they will turn it in when they are in seriously hot water. Prepare yourself now, for when they have broken something of yours you love and they take off 100 mph and grab the card and turn it in to you. The ultimate test of keeping your word :-).
Thanks for the encouragement! Cisco leaderships and my direct management has been so incredible through this. I have three small children, 5, 3 and 16 months so everyday brings its on challenges and rewards being a working mom and teaching them and being available when they need me which is constant! It is comforting to see other moms navigating this new normal 🙂
Supermom! I am currently doing the Wayne and Garth “We’re not worthy” bow to you. So happy to hear you have an amazing manager to help you through this.
Beautiful and inspiring honest article. Thanks for sharing with me. You placed me in Lincoln’s and your personal space. I love that you keep coming up with creative solutions. As I have always said, we need to be Macgyver’s. If plan A doesn’t work then go to plan B. But you may say: What is plan B. I say just like the show Macgyver, when he was asked by his boss, what would you have done if this didn’t work and Macgyver says, I ‘d go to plan B. His boss says, well what was plan B. Macgyver says I don’t know, plan A worked. Anyways, I want to know if Lincoln will share with his Auntie Cari and part with one of his get out of trouble free card. As he knows, we seem to get into trouble at times together with you and I need one. Let’s all take a moment and take our hand and give ourselves a pat on the back. Onward we go!! Your older sister Cari
Thanks, sis. This means so much, like everything you do. Wish we lived closer and yes, you definitely need a “Get out of trouble free” card. 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing this Jodi! I am in the same boat with twin first graders and while it’s so challenging, I’m so grateful to be able to work remotely for the best company ever. I’m also glad the challenges are not just for me and I agree that any tips or ideas that work for someone are good to be shared as we’re all in this together! I love the dance time and the Cisco Global Problem Solvers show which I was not aware of! And I have a point system going daily with my kids where they earn points and can lose them too for a reward they can appreciate at a time where they also miss playing freely with their friends and getting to be kids.
Jodi, I went back and re read your story. Although, it was your own story, but it very well resonated on what was going through your new routine & helping your son. All I can tell from my experience with two Elementary kids is that the time I spend with them they cherish every minute and want me to spend more with them, as they see world of newness. These times are unprecedented but as new home teacher they love me for teaching so much from my childhood experiences and time we spend together. Hang in there and I’m sure when this is over, you will conquer any hard problem you will face. Also, I’d love to help your son with math in anyway possible. Cheers and loads of good vibes & kindness to you both.
This article is fantastic. Thank you for the super helpful tips and suggestions!
Great article Jodi!! I love the “get out of trouble free card” idea, I will definitely incorporate that into our system. I completely agree about the teachers being superheroes. My daughters have some really great teacher and I can’t thank them enough for all that they do. And we are so lucky to work at such a amazing company- my manager and colleagues have been very supportive as well.
Yay Jodi – so good to see that you and Lincoln are weathering the storm and making it fun! I love being with you virtually and I will pass on your tips to the many mothers in my extended family. Take Care and I hope we can actually connect in person soon!
Great blog entry! As I finished it, I realized that our style of parenting seems similar, so I am going to try your WebEx recommendations too. I have two boys at home, and your experiences seem to parallel mine. Thanks for this reassuring blog and for sharing your experiences.
Great inspiring story!
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