I’m a New Yorker through and through—I was raised in Queens and up until the pandemic, Brooklyn has been home—and it’s a particular kind of gut-wrenching to see how the tidal wave of Covid-19 has ravaged my hometown. But if the last few weeks have taught me anything, it’s that the power of community cannot be underestimated.
As the co-founder and CEO of HeyMama, a private social and professional network created to propel working mothers forward, a massive social upheaval has forced me and my team to pivot on a dime to find new and meaningful ways to connect people and gather them together digitally. Within one week of our team sheltering in place, we went from dozens of in-person events canceled to launching dozens of digital events. We have decided that it’s more important to serve women right now, and we’re offering a free trial to anyone who needs the support. Our membership is made up of insanely accomplished and resilient women, many of whom are entrepreneurs themselves and are up against a myriad of challenges to sustain their businesses right now. We are seeing them offer one another encouragement, solutions, connections, and ideas. They are supporting each other’s small businesses rather than shopping Amazon and even bartering pro bono services with one another.
While we’re testing new ideas and processes at an escalating pace each day at HeyMama, my personal life has found a new rhythm, one that actually feels very balanced. Part of that is location. My boyfriend lives in Westchester and a few weeks ago, I preemptively moved myself and my 8-year-old daughter in with him and his two kids. We’ve been talking about bringing the family together for awhile and this certainly expedited our timeline, but it’s been a silver lining. We’re figuring out how to combine our modern family, and our different parenting approaches, and we’re doing it in a moment where we can find our cadence without the pressures of commutes, drops offs, and social obligations.
One thing that has worked really well for my daughter and I is setting up our own routine. It goes a little something like this:
- We start each day with breakfast and a morning meeting. The two of us have a quick 10-minute touchbase at 9am—and yes, I treat this as a meeting in terms of time blocked on my calendar. This huddle is when we go over the day’s to-dos, her schedule for the day and when I communicate what times I am on calls (and when I’m not).
- By the time that lunch rolls around, we check in together and I make her something to eat while getting a quick progress report. We eat as a family, and then get back to our afternoon work (meetings for me, coding for her).
- At 3pm we do tea-time, a 15 minute cookie break that is not helping my diet, but is feeding my soul with this daily mommy-daughter ritual.
- Finally, at the end of the day, we take a family walk on the river together to get some fresh air.
While routines are surely helpful, something that’s come to life through all of this is the “it takes a village” mantra that we so often hear in motherhood. More than 70 percent of American mothers with children under 18 work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And while mothers have worked all throughout human history, the structure of the nuclear family, pressure, and pace of modern life introduces new challenges for us. Parenting isn’t meant to be a solo sport and we created HeyMama to be the village and support system that mothers need to be effective as they balance the demands of their lives, both in times of celebration and times of crisis. We’re parenting together, leveraging all the tools we have and leaning on one another to share skills and resources to survive (and thrive) during this time.
One thing I know for sure: In the wake of this crisis, the ways in which we connect with one another outside and inside the home will have completely changed and will shift the way we look at connection indefinitely. I have never been so grateful for the power of community and an afternoon biscuit break with my daughter. Let’s hope she remembers the tea, and not the chaos.