Professional papas: Remote working and family tips from Capital One dads
Working and parenting full time presents its own unique set of challenges in the best of times—busy schedules, cooking, cleaning and shuttling everyone around to commitments and activities. When work and life shifted to primarily inside the home due to social distancing, parents faced firsthand the collision of home life, work life and their childrens’ school or daycare needs all taking place in the same space. Hear from some of Capital One's dads, who share their perspective on the unique challenges and heartwarming joys they have experienced while working from home, in their own words.
Precious parenting moments captured between (or during) meetings
Crayons sprawled across the floor create a maze I hopscotch through daily on my way to a makeshift office we set up a week after we got the message that we were shifting to working from home. Like everyone else, I read how the coronavirus was spreading faster than anticipated and claiming more lives in its wake. Social distancing was the only way we could fight back, together.
Life and work have not been the same since. Parenting has not either.
My daughter is young—young enough to consider Mommy and Daddy her very best friends in the world. Most mornings, after fumbling through our morning routine, I make a bee line to Zoom for a daily standup. Part way through, I feel little hands hanging around my waist as my daughter pulls herself into my lap so she can better see whose hair has grown longer than the day before. She flashes a quick smile at familiar faces and tucks away from the camera any time someone acknowledges her as my intern. “Dada..dada...dada” carries through the house as she runs to the living room to play the same game with Mommy. Parenting while working has been tough for obvious reasons, but also a joy.
I have a work schedule that is often filled to the brim with meetings. Luckily, due to some calendar gymnastics, and an incredible wife, I have learned to better protect my time. Moments with my daughter are sacred, and thanks to social distancing, they are now shared. She has fallen asleep in my arms during status updates, held full conversations with me about her doll baby while our leaders were addressing the team—and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I am flustered and grateful. Because although she won’t remember these episodes working from home. I will. Forever.
—Devon R., Senior Director, Cyber Intelligence
Finding the right rhythm to add variety to the day
Dad life in quarantine has been interesting and fun. For the three of us (my wife, son and I), this quarantine has grown to be more of a blessing than anything else.
At first, the transition was very difficult for me. All sense of "space" I felt like I got before and after work to "transition" was removed. I woke up, took care of my son, went to work, got off work, played with my son, started my Master's program materials, went to bed. The lack of transitions between tasks made the days very stressful and long for me. Whereas for my wife, she loved it! She no longer had to wait for me to come home and I don't have to leave so early to get to work. The new work/life balance for me was not sustainable and a few “fun” conversations with my wife later, we found a better rhythm.
Fast forward to today, the biggest thing my wife and I did was carve out "personal" time to help give each of us needed time during the day to wind down. For her, I go to work at 9am (as opposed to 8am). This gives her time to sleep in and/or get herself ready for the day. She's a full-time mom with a 2 year old so the days get long when preschool is closed and outdoor activities are minimal. For me, I go for a run most days after work to help give me a chance to wind down and get some exercise.
Sounds so simple, but those two things to give each of us "our time" has been very helpful to keeping the sanity. At this point, most of this feels very normal from a work/life perspective. I get a ton of extra time with Russell and we've been able to enhance our backyard for his enjoyment. We also recently began allowing select family members to come visit (under various conditions), which has helped us get back into the norm of being social with others.
When it's all said and done, a combination of "our time" for my wife and I... enhancing our backyard with a playground and sandbox... and just taking a deep breath and finding rest in our Savior Jesus Christ... has made our daily routines enjoyable for the foreseeable future! I pray other families are finding their rhythms as well and are staying safe!
—Ryan P., Master Systems Integrator
Virtual Learning challenges and video game successes
This has definitely been a unique experience working from home everyday with my six year old and my wife. My wife is a teacher and that is mostly a blessing in a time like this to help with virtual learning. But she is so tied up in meetings and live teaching for her 3rd grade class that most of the schooling has fallen on me. My daughter thrives in a school environment, we have found, because she has had zero motivation to do any school work since social distancing began. My wife put together a schedule for her to try and keep her in a rhythm but that only lasted about a week before we gave up. I think another contributing factor that we never would have seen coming was that we used to call school days, "school days," and the weekends were "stay home" days. Now that everyday is a stay home day, my daughter doesn't think she needs to do school work!
Although schooling hasn't gone quite as planned, I did manage to find something she could do with her time. My daughter has always wanted to play video games with me and unfortunately most of the games I played were too complicated or too violent for her to be playing. But eventually, we found a great alternative. Now we have found our newest thing to bond over. We've already beaten a few different games and are working on others. It's something that my wife enjoys too so it's become our new family game night activity. I love that she knows the names of specific characters and can correct me on the color of certain characters' costumes. We go on walks sometimes and try to think up how our house could be a level in the game, or how our surroundings on the walk could be used. Looking back on this time, I think our memories will be of playing these games together and not about her math lessons or fact families.
—Steve B., Principal Process Manager
Flexibility to work and parent on my schedule
I had a feeling we were going to be told to work remotely about a week or two before we actually received the email letting us know in early March. I remember thinking this would be a few weeks or a month max. Fast forward three months, and we’re all in on working-remotely-while-homeschooling-our-children-at-a-socially-acceptable-distance. There aren’t enough cliches to go around to describe what it’s been like trying to raise a 2 year old in this environment. In the beginning, I was a one-man show during the day, watching my daughter while my wife, who is a financial planner, tried to assure her clients all was well. Attending “standups” while making lunch, listening to product demos during nap time and finishing the bulk of my work at night are just a few of the ways I have been balancing this thing we now call “work life."
It’s not a perfect recipe, nor does it stop your daughter from crashing Zoom meetings or preventing you from taking her for a walk in the neighborhood, but it does help to put things in perspective. Without Capital One (and Grandma, who lives down the street AND also works for Capital One), there is no way our family would have been able to pull something like this off. From setting us up with home-office equipment, to limiting non-essential meetings, to weekly zoom trivia and to generally just being understanding of employees being unable to fully attend meetings, Capital One has demonstrated what it means to “Change Banking for Good."
—Tyler H., Lead Software Engineer
Parenting lessons learned through experience
I feel incredibly grateful for my family being healthy and also having the opportunity to work for Capital One to provide for my family during this tough time. I live with my wife and 2 girls, Suhani (8 years) and Aneri (6 years), in Richmond, Virginia. I work in Capital One's Card business—leading various marketing platforms as a product manager. Since the crisis started, I have an even higher level of appreciation for my wife—for being a super mom, wife and a frontline worker, addressing dental emergencies during COVID-19.
She does all of this while going through the extreme stress of being a small business owner during COVID-19 and keeping her staff, patients and community safe. My kids and I have the opportunity to spend way more time together than I would have ever imagined. This is a silver lining and I will cherish many, many memories for years to come. It all started not knowing how to be a good parent and a ton of guilt for not giving them my full attention during these challenging times. I have a long list of failures and what didn’t work but here is what I have learned that has worked for us:
- Structure—Kids went from having a very busy schedule to no schedule at all. While I thought kids would love having no structure, it started taking a toll on all of us. My wife and I created a daily schedule for them (hourly) from 9 to 5. Yes, it starts at 9am. On school days, they have to get ready for the bus pickup (7:04 AM) but now they get to sleep in a few extra hours so dad can get an hour head start to get my day organized.
- Being okay, not being perfect—Soon, we learned that kids were not following the schedule as they would take advantage of the screen time while I am in zoom meetings. I had so many bad thoughts cross my mind… my kids would fall behind in their class and how I was not being a good dad. Similarly, food is another section where I felt was being bad and letting them eat mac and cheese back-to-back. Just talking to my friends and colleagues really helped me level set. I also came across a post on social media, which made me realize that I am not alone and we are all in the same boat.
- Scheduling work & using vacation—My manager and team have been really helpful from the beginning, allowing me to set up breaks during the day to check-in on them and take time to play or walk outside with them. I also want to give kudos to my admin for letting me stick with a lunch hour with my kids. I have also taken random Fridays off using my vacation days and it has been amazing to catch up with kids stuff and plan ahead.
- Using a zoom background—You never know when your kids will walk into Zoom meetings without pants on!
- Kids' activities & staying connected—Finding creative ways to have fun in a family setting for us is a robotics kit, riding bikes and playing video games. My daughter and I built a robot from a kit and she is now learning to program it on an iPad. She loves it! Video games... I may have planted the seed in their brain so I can connect back with my childhood memories! We love playing in multiplayer mode with my extended family. It gives them an opportunity to connect with their cousins while having screen time—win/win!
—Dipen P., Director Data & Audience
Parenting amid a pandemic feels like a time with very little structure, but these dads are rocking it and enjoying some quality family time in the process. We are proud of them for staying committed to both working and soaking up time with the families. While we don’t know what the future holds, we’re sure that these dads will never forget the lessons they learned and the memories they’ve made while navigating this unique moment in history.
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