Blog Post - Sep 28, 2020

Living Engaged While Juggling

Kristy James, Dairyland’s Financial Controller, shares about how this fall season looks different than years past, invites us into compassionate care, and offers a heartfelt encouragement for anyone juggling a lot right now.

How has life changed for you in the pandemic and specifically in this back-to-school season?

I’m now working from home, almost full time, while trying to keep my 3rd grader on track with virtual learning.  It tends to make my day much longer, starting early and working late, to be able to balance the needs of both.  It increases my need for intentionality and focus with everything, which I may still be working on perfecting.

You shared previously about involvement with the Cambridge PTO; how has that been impacted or continued amid so many changes to schooling this fall?

The mission of the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) is to support our school district staff and students and to help offer opportunities that otherwise might not exist.  While normally we’d help sponsor things like field trips and bringing arts/fitness activities to our schools, we’re now helping deliver meals to families and awaiting how else we can support our district.  Knowing that funds are tight this year and that we all need a little boost, we’ve modified our main fall fundraising to be one that focuses more on school spirit and ensures social distancing.  The anticipated decreased financial support and unknown school fund requests leave a lot of unknowns for the school year.  

What are some of the needs for students, teachers, and/or parents that may not be as obvious right now? 

Emotional support and encouragement are probably some of the greatest needs right now.  Most parents/caregivers aren’t teachers, and many are trying to balance work and teaching.  This is new and can be overwhelming; check in with your friends to make sure they’re doing ok.  Our teachers are amazing and love our kids!  Many have not been given the advanced training, resources, and time to get setup properly to teach our kids virtually.  They are dedicated and need to be given grace and reassurance of the good they’re doing; help keep them from burning out.  And let’s not forget the kids – we need to give them compassion, leniency, praise, and love.  This educational environment is new, they’re probably sick of their adults/siblings, and miss their friends.  They’ll figure out the new routine, it just may take a little time, let’s try to be patient.

What would you say to encourage a parent/caregiver juggling work and overseeing schooling?

You are amazing!  Whatever you’re doing, however you’re doing it, keep up the good work!  You will be harder on yourself than anyone else, may feel like a failure, and think that the day was a loss, but you did great!  Your kid(s) will not fall behind from anything you do or don’t get done.  You are not alone in the struggle to figure out the right way or best way to navigate. And please don’t forget to reach out for help, we all need it sometimes!

What do you think it looks like to Live Engaged in your specific circumstances?

For me, to Live Engaged is about doing your best and supporting those around you at home, at work, in your community, and beyond.  I do this by spending my working hours at a company with strong values and cares for the employees and world it serves.  I try to stay (virtually) connected with coworkers and friends that I would’ve normally seen in person and I volunteer with our PTO, schools, and other local resources. Last but not least, try to come up with different ways to have fun as a family and stay connected with those we can’t see as often.