In this special edition of our Brave Conversations series, host Larry Baker is joined by LCW colleagues José Guardado (Principal Consultant), Melissa Neu (Business Development Consultant), and Rebecca Parrilla (Director of Content & Research) to discuss a shared experience many people have lived through: parenting during the pandemic.

This unique episode features Language & Culture Worldwide team voices, as they reflect on the past two years of working together while parenting. Together they explore: the challenges of parenting and caregiving during the pandemic, how this experience changed their values, what privileges they might have had that helped them get through it all, and what the pandemic has taught us about work culture moving forward from here.

After tuning in to the conversation, we encourage you to share your takeaways on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Show Notes & Highlights

13:45: Melissa discusses how the pandemic altered her family’s lives and the inequities she noticed in school districts’ abilities to provide resources for students’ at home learning

23:07: José names the importance of being present for one another throughout the pandemic

24:57: Melissa on how the past two years have allowed her to spend quality time with her children

28:47: Rebecca shares how she saw and told her kids how brave they were each and every day by persevering through this moment

30:27: Melissa shares how she had been conditioned not to talk about family in the workplace and how the pandemic helped change that

33:59: Rebecca highlights the power of being vulnerable in the workplace and how supporting one another as human beings was crucial

40:00: José tells us about balancing work with the personal challenges of having family members diagnosed with COVID and losing power for one week

48:20: “Permission to recognize that life outside of work affects how we are at work and it makes us human.” – Rebecca

49:21: José introduces his mantra of “have a day” and the value of recognizing the many emotions that each day might bring

Show Transcript

Larry Baker: Hello everyone. And welcome to the Culture Moments podcast. I’m your host, Larry Baker. And I’m thrilled to have you join us for our second season called Brave Conversations with LCW in these episodes, you’ll hear from a panel of guests, from specific communities offering a range of perspectives on the past year, we’ll hear about their own experiences as well as their insights on what’s changed and more importantly, what needs to change to move equity forward.

As we all know so much has shifted and changed over the past year and a half. And for many of us, we’re still in recovery from a very rough 2020.

Hello, and welcome to our podcast. Today. I am very excited to be joined by my fellow Language & Culture Worldwide colleagues, to discuss an experience that we have all been a part of these last past two years, which of course is parenting during the pandemic. And for many of us, the pandemic meant that we were taking care of our children. Some of us were actually taking care of family members while simultaneously we’ve been working from home.

And this is a challenge that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. As a matter of fact, there was a article that I read that said that Gallup’s is anticipating that there will be 37% fewer in office days for employees in 2022.

And that’s primarily driven by the fact that 44% of U.S. workers prefer to work remote. But as we know, the pandemic has had a largely disparate impact on workers and, while challenging in many cases, working from home was actually a privilege that not a lot of individuals were afforded to do… specifically essential workers. Which we understand and we’ve heard that that is creating some racial disparities as well. As a matter of fact, taking a look at some of the numbers. In the United States, 31% of Hispanic workers and 33% of Black workers were in what was qualified as essential jobs that primarily requires them to work in person and close to other people.

So in this episode, what we’re going to try to do is… We’re going to do our very best to share with you our very own experiences. We’re going to look to name some of the privileges that we have working for the same organization. And then begin to explore, “what was the effect that the pandemic had on us as working parents?” How do we manage it? And then what lessons can we take from this experience to continue to support working parents, once we do return back to the office?

So, I have for you today, three of my esteemed colleagues that I’m going to be asking them to introduce themselves. I have Rebecca Parrilla, José Guardado, and Melissa Neu.

So, I will ask Rebecca, can you do me the privilege of introducing yourself and giving us a little bit of background of who you are?

Rebecca Parrilla: Hey, Larry. The privilege is all mine. So, yeah, my name’s Rebecca Parrilla. I am a Director of Content and Research at LCW. I have been with LCW for 15 years, the vast majority of that, in consulting and training and facilitation and coaching.

And I’ve not been a mother for 15 years. I became a mother in 2010. I have two grade schoolers. They’re in fifth and third right now – when the pandemic hit, they were in third and first. And, uh, I’m Puerto Rican. I grew up in Puerto Rico, moved to the U.S. for college. And then I stayed, lived in Chicago for many, many years and had a whole other career before LCW in commercial banking.

But I’ve been doing this for a while now, as I said. And, yeah, lots to talk about today and I’m really excited to learn more from my colleagues about their experiences.

Larry Baker: Awesome. Thank you so much, Rebecca. José you’re up next.

José Guardado: Alright, thanks. Thanks Larry. And thanks for setting the tone, Rebecca, a hard act to follow, but I will fill in with, with my narrative, right?

My story. So I’m José Guardado, I’m a Principal Consultant. Lucky to be doing this work here at Language & Culture Worldwide for over a year now. I’ve been in the field for many years. So, that’s my professional story. And it’ll relate to today’s topic because there are a lot of elements of how the work environment is changing and how it changed for me. Right? And kind of how it impacted, all the folks in my family, folks that are here in my home and folks that I also have across the United States.

But just to kind of give you some insight into, my family structure, I have two children, Sofia and Daisy – twins. So I became a parent in 2006. If you do the math very quickly, they are now freshmen, or first year in high school, and the pandemic, and I look forward to today’s conversation cause it definitely crossed over from middle school and transition to high school. A lot of factors, a lot of stories.

My household also includes, uh, I’m also a spouse, right? So that’s part of the conversation. I’m also someone’s child and my family lives in Chicago. So there are some elements of today’s story that might be helpful to unpack here on this call today with you.

And, then, in my household, pets are very important. So we have a lot of pets. We also foster dogs, on occasion for the last couple of years. So we have three dogs, five chickens, a bunny and recently have brought home a squirrel to a rescue and then release back into its natural habitat.

Larry Baker: Wow. So you have a full house and definitely, I echo with you in the experience of having a freshmen in high school that spent the majority of their final junior high years, if you will, during this pandemic situation. So we can definitely relate in regards to that José. So thank you so much. Last, but definitely not least, Melissa. Can you please introduce yourself to the audience today?

Melissa Neu: Yes, of course my name’s Melissa Neu, and I’m a Business Development Consultant here at LCW.

I’ve been here about a year now. I’ve spent most of my career in global sales and my background’s in Intercultural Communications and I’m working on my doctorate at Regent University in Global Leadership.

Most importantly, and perhaps the reason I’m on the call is that my family is quite large. My husband and I have a blended family with six children. And so, we have kids that are in third grade, sixth grade, and then the other four are in college, or have just graduated from college. We have two freshmen in college, a senior in college, and a son who recently graduated.

So we went from a really large household for a very short period of time to a small household because kids went away to college and then the pandemic hit and they came back home for a bit. And so our house is never, never, never quiet. I apologize in advance, if you hear voices or giggles or fighting outside the door, it never fails that someone’s going to practice the tramp trombone when I’m on a zoom call, but that that’s who I am. That’s our wildlife.

Larry Baker: I definitely hope it happens, Melissa, because again, we’re talking about real life situations. Right? So thank you so much for that introduction. And we’re going to go ahead and jump right into our conversation.

Now, the reality is we are all colleagues, and we have a knowledge of each other, but I do want us to dig deeper and potentially pull out some things that we may not have known about each other, but more importantly, we all have different experiences, right? We have different backgrounds. And I think that that is going to be crucial in this conversation. So we’re going to kick it right off and I’m going to start asking the first question of Rebecca.

So we all understand that working and parenting in normal times, if you have a definition of what normal looks like, we all know that that can be challenging. But when we add into the mix, this pandemic, we’re looking at some more, extremely difficult challenges for ourselves.

So let me just throw it out…What were some of your biggest challenges that you faced being a working parent during the pandemic? And then, what did you learn from it? So, Rebecca, if you could start us off.

Rebecca Parrilla: Sure. Uh, wow. So you just, Larry, you just took me back to when it first started and I just kind of realized that, you know, there’s different, the stages of this.

And I could maybe answer the question depending on what stage of the pandemic it was. But I know that, you know, when this first came out in March of 2020, I had a first grader and a third grader, and obviously it went right to remote and it was super, super stressful. It was very difficult. Obviously those were the days where people didn’t know what was allowed and the rules kept changing.

I also failed to mention during my introduction that me and my ex are divorced. And so, being a parent, working with no other adults in here and a first and third grader, trying to somehow ensure that they stay in front of a screen and listen to what the teacher is saying and make sure they’re doing what they’re doing. And at the same time do my work was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. And so that’s the first one, but, I’ll let some of my colleagues jump into that too.

Larry Baker: So José, Melissa, talk about a bit about some of your biggest challenges that you face being a working parent.

José Guardado: Yes. And I love that we started with when it first hit, because that was my first thought. Right. Overwhelming, what’s happening, concern, you know, you’re not really knowing what the next day would bring. And then what my work would look like and what my children’s schoolwork would look like.

And, you know, it was just all these things. And not being able to, you know, go out to places that we would usually go out to on a regular basis. So all of these things were kind of impacting it. So kind of going back to the first time this hit, that’s really everything we started thinking about is all of a sudden, you look around and everyone is in the same place. Your children. And I also have, you know, status where it’s, two homes. So, the girls you know my children have two places, right? So they were here with us during that time. They had to be with us for about six months because of the quarantine. Right? They couldn’t go to their mother’s house. So that was an interesting dynamic that we have to learn some things from.

Um, and I think as I thought about this question, and as I thought about what helped us as a family get through from that point to where we are today, and it hasn’t been easy, right? It’s, you know, definitely ups and downs, ebbs and flows… it was the thinking of the idea of a routine and getting all the basics in place and then really understanding that we had to give each other grace because we were all figuring this out in our own ways.

Me as a working parent, my children as students that were faced with not being able to see their friends in the ways that they were used to. So just all those things kind of kicked in. And I think having a routine for us really was the first lesson. And I can give you more examples later in the conversation, but I think having the routine was really what has helped us and what we learned through this experience.

Larry Baker: Yep. Awesome. Thank you, Melissa.

Melissa Neu: You know, the pandemic now that we’re two years in, I think a lot of us have forgotten how it was when it started, but for many of us, many of us suffered economically through layoffs and furloughs. And my family was certainly hard hit. My husband, lost his job and had to relocate to another state for work, which left me at home with all those children.

And at the time we lived in a town that did not have the economic resources in the schools that a lot of my peers’ school systems, or we don’t know where my peers have their kids in schools did. For example, in some suburbs they would get Chromebooks and be able to do virtual school, like Rebecca just mentioned, but the kids, all four kids were given paper packets to fill out each week and did not have the ability to have even Zoom calls with their teachers.

Which really put the burden of teaching on me to ensure that they finish that school year. And of course I was at that point by myself at home. So I want to name that because I think that it, to me, that it speaks to the greater issue that we have with access and privilege and economic disparity and equal access to opportunity and education in this country.

And certainly in hindsight, I am incredibly grateful that I did work in an environment where I was able to be at home with my children and to have those long nights and to take my lunch hour and to do the work with them, because I don’t believe that all children, certainly not in our community at the time had the benefit of having a parent who was able to do that work with them at home. So many folks were still being called out essential workers and such. So some it’s hard to find words. I don’t know that I’ve really ever talked about it, but it was, it was a bit of a traumatic experience. And yet as the mom of a child who has an autoimmune disease, I cannot begin to express how grateful I was that I was at home and able to protect my kids.

That’s something that we sort of went into lockdown mode and we knew what we had to do. But again, I think that it was an opportunity that was afforded to us because of, because of the privilege of my workplace at the time of the inflection.

Larry Baker: So Melissa, I’m so glad that you touched blind this topic of privilege.

Because when I think back to the beginning of the pandemic, the reality is my privilege was that we were used to it. And what I mean by that is my daughter, because she had immune issues as well. She was homeschooled. Right? So she had been homeschooled for about probably three or four years before she was able to be released to go to school.

So she spent her entire sixth grade year as a totally new experience of going to school because the three years prior, because of her conditions, she couldn’t go to school. Right? So for us, the privilege was we already knew what it took. The challenge was for my wife to get back into the fold of, wait a second, I just had an entire year off of educating my daughter. And now this cruel world has played this trick on me that I have to go back and do it again. So the biggest challenge for me was to say, Hey babe, you have to go back into that world and do that again, which in her mind she had moved from that. Right?

So that was the challenge that we had to kind of reshape those roles like José said, and come back up with routines where my spouse and again, part of my privilege is, her degree is in elementary education. So for those of you that were struggling, like, man, I had to do my job and teach another privilege that I had was that I married a teacher.

Who was being at home in the first place. It was just having that conversation to say, okay, we’ve got to go back into that mindset. So that was one of the interesting challenges that I faced in my household, but it was like, but we’ve been out of this. And I’m not really ready to do this again. So it’s a unique perspective in regards to what we consider our challenges are.

It really, wasn’t a challenge for my daughter to get reacclimated. It was more of a challenge to get my wife to say, hey, um, how much longer do I have to do this? Right? So it’s so interesting about where we are in regards to what we consider our challenges during this pandemic. And I’m so glad that you all are very transparent in sharing the different experiences that you’ve had.

And I’m pretty sure that a lot of people can relate to that. So I thank you so much, but before I go on, is there anything else that anybody wanted to add before we dig into talking about priorities?

Rebecca Parrilla: I mean, one thing that we haven’t talked about that I’m sure that, you know, everybody in this call can relate to is just the idea…I mean, I know personally I felt panicked – and I still kind of do – that your kids are falling behind in terms of education as compared to if there weren’t a pandemic or, you know, older kids who’ve already gone through primary school and middle school or whatever. But, you know, my kids were young and, you know, that’s your formative years where you learn not just the basics around reading and writing and math, but you also start learning about friendships and socialization and how to manage your emotions.

And so, I felt that that was like yet another layer. That was that constant buzz of stress in the background and you know, it got better for sure, but, you know, what are you going to do? Everyone’s on the same boat, but it’s definitely something that’s on my mind.

Larry Baker: Absolutely. And I definitely appreciate that because, you know, we are always trying to be on top of our games in our professions. Right? So now let’s throw on top of it, now I need to be on top of my game to prepare my child for their future. Right? As if I’m not driven enough, I’m now trying to make sure that they have everything they need to be successful in the future. Absolutely appreciate that.

José, you wanted to…

José Guardado: Oh, sure, sure. Yeah, just real quickly. Cause there are a lot of things that connected for, you know, our family as well with just the change in how, our children learned. And I am definitely not someone that had the elementary education background. Right? So I had to learn some new things.

Uh, math for instance, was one thing that was a big topic for folks. It’s the new math and it’s not the way I used to do it, so, wow. What a learning curve that was. And then, just the learning curve on the educational side of things. I started to sense that the schools were really trying to figure this out.

They were really kind of getting to this up to speed. The first year from middle school, To the first year in high school was different because that first year it was a struggle, it was clunky, it was awkward, it was difficult. And then things were figured out.

And, I think that kind of helped make us a little more resilient as a family as well, because, you know, to the thinking of what we had access to… we had access to the internet in my home. We also had the availability to pick up Chromebooks, right? But that wasn’t always the case for some of the other families in our community. So I appreciate that. Melissa, and you brought that up as well because that echoed for us as well. But yeah, just a big learning curve and being the teacher, being a father, being a spouse, and these were definitely, fun and transformative times.

Larry Baker: Yeah, I absolutely agree with that in regards to jumping in to help with the homework, right? Even on a deeper level, right? That was part of the deal that I had to strike with my spouse, you know, I will dig in more to help with homework.

Now I did kind of stray away from the math because I did want my daughter to ultimately understand math. So we worked out something with the tutor to log in with her. So yeah, I know my limitations, right? But when we think about that topic of changing our values… because the pandemic really did force many people to reevaluate their priorities and their values.

So I want to know, for you personally, what values has parenting through the pandemic brought forward in your life, or maybe even forced you to reconsider?

So, José, I want you to kick start us off with that conversation. What do you think brought forward to you? And if it did, what did it force you to reconsider?

José Guardado: Yeah, no, thanks Larry. And that’s a really good one because that’s, you know, now that we’re thinking about it, where we are now as a family, where my children are, really the value of being there for each other… being present for one another really understanding the dynamics of our relationships.

You know, as challenging as this has been, I also am grateful for the fact that I have come to learn more about my children I think then I would have had the opportunity had this not happened. Right? So that’s that side of the equation for me. And that side of the story. I’m sure they’ve learned many things about me… the good, the bad, and the ugly, right?

Because we’re all in the same situation, experiencing it through our own lenses. So I think, you know, the value of being present for me was definitely something that, that I’m grateful for the fact that, um, I am working with a company and with colleagues that really support wellness, right? Our wellness,  your mental health and all of those kinds of things. Cause those are definitely things that have played out for us in our family as well, illness. Right? So just kind of having the core value of being present, being in the moment, the minimizing distractions, a really trying to understand where people are coming from and what we can do to support each other… I think has really helped us. So when you, when you asked that question, Larry, the thing that kept coming up was just being present. Yeah.

Larry Baker: Yeah, that’s awesome. Thank you so much.

Melissa, how do you think that your values as parenting through this pandemic, it made you have a different understanding or just reinforced something that you always knew?

Melissa Neu: Oh, it goes very fast. Time speeds up once you have those babies. And it’s amazing how, when you’re in the moment, you’re so busy, you don’t realize, even though they’re like, this physical representation of how fast time is going. You don’t realize it. And I have heard a lot of parents complaining about, they can’t wait to get the kids back in school and they were having a really difficult time having them at home.

And I will look back at the last two years. I’m not going to cry. And think it was one of the greatest times of my life, because there were six and now there’s just two at home. And I got to have more quality conversation and time with them. And as an ambitious person, who’s been called a workaholic at life I have not always taken those moments and been intentional about living in them. And, it’s certainly permeated outside of the immediate little family or not little family, but our immediate family. And we ended up relocating back to my hometown, which I haven’t lived here in 20 years, but it’s caused me to reevaluate and remember how incredibly value valuable my relationships with my family and my grandma and my sister. All of it is so important. And time again, it goes so fast. So we’re, we’re all here now and, and definitely approaching every day differently.

Larry Baker: Yeah, that is awesome. It, that strikes such a chord with me about, you know, how out of control it seemed that the virus was, right? That when you’ve heard that someone in your family, or you, may have had it, you really didn’t know how this was going to end up. Right? So it’s almost ironic that it took this virus to get us to slow down, to realize that very thing that you said Melissa time goes by so fast.

But when we are so caught up in the hustle and the bustle of spending that eight hours at work. And then, I don’t know if you all had commuting time. It would add on another two to four hours to my day. So 12 hours out of my day, I was gone and I really didn’t have that time to invest in my children at that point.

But then when it happened, now we have all this time to talk and I don’t care if it was something as silly as playing Uno, right? I found out my daughter is really good at it though. Like she cheats, but she’s really good at Uno. So it gave me that time to really find out what’s really important.

So Rebecca, I don’t want to forget about you. Talk to me about what perspective did it give you? What, what did it make you reconsider?

Rebecca Parrilla: I mean, you all are bringing all these new things. I mean, when I got this question, I was thinking I have the same thoughts as José in terms of being in the moment. So just appreciating the moments you are in.

And not that, I mean, family has always been number one for me, but this has even accelerated that feeling, as compared to everything else. But you know, you all, like what you said, Melissa brought back, especially the first, I don’t know, year of the pandemic I found myself telling my kids, every now and then, you guys are so brave.

And now I’m not going to cry, but, because it’s something that your kids are going through that you yourself never went through. And it felt weird in that way. It was different in that way. In that very fundamental, almost scary way. And so what do you tell your kids? And, I would just always say, you know, you’re so brave. Mama never had to go through something like this. And when you have kids, you’re going to be able to tell them about this and you know, and then, you know, we just did things together. We, we filmed videos together. We went on, walks at a park that’s right by my house together. And those are the kinds of things that we wouldn’t nearly have done as often had this whole thing not happened.

Larry Baker: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I definitely appreciate that. So the reality is we kicked off this call and we told everyone that we’re all coworkers, right? So we all have a working relationship and we all have similar experiences within our organization, but I really do believe that our organization has done some pretty cool things to provide us support during this pandemic.

So, Melissa, I’m gonna start with you because I think you are the newest to the organization. So I’m just gonna start off with you asking this question.

What were some of the ways that you think that our organization supported you during the pandemic? Whether it’s the organization as a whole, or us as colleagues, if you could share with me some of that insight.

Melissa Neu: Well, I will have to call out Rebecca for this one. I’m from Generation X and I worked primarily in an industry where you never were able to talk about your children and it could really hurt you to admit as a woman publicly that you were a mom. And so I really been conditioned or trained throughout my career to never publicly acknowledge, unless I knew the person that really, really well, that I was a mom at all. And, I had some things happen around me. You know, I got laid off once when I was eight months pregnant. There were a lot of different things that happened that sort of made that happen.

And so when the pandemic hit, there was a lot of me still trying to sort of shush the children and make sure that they weren’t visible in my home work environment, but Rebecca, my very first meeting with her when I very first speaking employee, she didn’t want to talk to me about what my, background was. She didn’t want to talk to me about my resume. She wanted to know about my family.

And since that time I’ve heard Rebecca and you, Larry and José, all very publicly talk about what it is like to live in this new reality with your children at home, with you, and in so many ways, just that public acknowledgement, just that grace, that I can be on the phone with Larry and admit that I’ve locked my children out of the house and I have to go downstairs to go and get them… and that that’s okay. And that’s been tremendous.

And then of course, unfortunately, my family all had COVID two months ago. And even during that time, there wasn’t even a question. I had so many folks on the team, just pick it up and say, what do you need? I got a wonderful delivered package of chicken soup, just all sorts of little things that made the experience easier.

And I knew when I came back into work, that it was all, it was all okay. And that means the world to me.

Larry Baker: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, echoing in on that, I think one of the things that I’ve never held back is my purpose for being a father, right? Regardless of where I’ve been within an organization. I will agree with you, Melissa, that it is refreshing to know the level of not only acceptance, but legitimate care about what’s going on with family that we experienced through this.

And what was cool about it was it happened before the pandemic – because I was here before the pandemic, of course – and it happened before the pandemic. So it just, grew to a different level once the pandemic hit, because I really did feel that urge, that sense of, “hey, how’s everything going with you and your family?”

Not about work, because we know that we get the job done. Right? That’s just who we are. But it’s that concern about outside of the work, that’s always been prevalent and RP I know you’ve been here for gosh, 15 years… so you’ve been basically, you grew up in this culture. So talk to us a little bit about how, how as an organization you’ve received that support through the pandemic.

Rebecca Parrilla: Well, I mean, I remember, you know, towards the beginning and I remember, you know, one of the partners being on a call with all of us and you could just hear the emotion coming out. And it was, it was shocking. And I also felt relief, you know, that she is a human being, and I knew that, but, at that point showing that vulnerability, I think probably made all of us feel better and closer.

And then just throughout, at LCW, I feel like the culture is we have each other’s backs and do what you need to do with you, your family… the work will get done. This type of flexibility and understanding and seeing each other as human beings. And just you know, the fact that we take care of each other, not just, you know, top down, although, you know, the culture here is such that flexibility has always been valued even before the pandemic, but when the pandemic hit that’s when you could really feel it.

Right? So yeah.

Larry Baker: Yeah. And again, that touches on our privilege, right? That’s a privilege that we have. And when folks say to you, “hey, do what you need to do. The work will get done.” That’s a top down cultural value, right? So it’s not something that has to be put on a, a bulletin board, if you will. We know that that will be a part of our culture.

Rebecca Parrilla: And you know, that you cover for someone else, you know, that other people are covering for you. You don’t have any doubt about that.

Larry Baker: Absolutely. José, your turn.

José Guardado: All right. So, two examples, which I think brings this whole conversation to life for me, is that during this whole thing, two things have happened to my family that are significant, um, in terms of the work that I’m able to do, right?

Just at that level, in Portland, which is where I live now, Portland, Oregon, I moved here because I thought the snow and ice was too extreme in the Midwest. That’s where I was born and raised in Chicago. So I moved here. Yeah. So unknown to me, there are ice storms that hit here that are getting pretty challenging from year to year, this year happened to be the one that killed the power in large sections of the city, including my home for 10 days. This had an impact on having people’s back. And I had to buy a generator, so all kinds of fun stuff going on with all of this other things, all these other things going on, but to speak to the culture of, LCW and the organization really, I felt that what we talk about, right, that we put on paper that we talk about… that we’ll support you was actually brought to life. So I had the support. I had the concern, the care from, teammates, all across LCW, you know, from partners all the way through everyone in every single team, was really reaching out to help and pitch in. So I really felt that I was in a good place. So really kind of, understanding us as complete people really kind of came to life.

And then the second one, which was in regards to COVID is my, my father and mother both had COVID there in Chicago. I was not as available for work for about two to three weeks. But then, you know, the culture of really supporting and the systems that are in place to really help us work remotely, to be able to communicate with each other and collaborate and still service our clients, really was something that I felt good about. And I wouldn’t be able to say this about other companies that I may have worked for in the past.

So the evolution of kind of what we’ve built here has really come to fruition for me and just real life examples. Those are the two that I can think of right now. And they have, really been, been meaningful to my family.

Larry Baker: Yeah. And, you know, there were a lot of those things that, you know, we just, and, you know, some people may say, well, a lot of those things are because you’re a smaller organization, right? Your culture is your culture. And I think that if you have people that truly believe that they are there for one another, it doesn’t matter if your company is 20 people or 20,000, if it’s a part of your culture, it’s a part of who you are. And I truly do feel that we walk that talk every day.

And there’s not an associate, it’s not an individual on this within this organization that does not have that type of perspective. And it’s definitely, again, it’s a privilege and we are acknowledging the fact that we have this as a privilege, but the reality is you can make that a part of your culture and it can, and it can permeate through all of your employees. So awesome that we’re able to bring that out as well.

So I know we’ve been talking about some heavy things and I know some of us are holding back tears and, you know, it’s just the reality of this world that we’ve been in. But I am pretty sure knowing you people the way that I do, there have been some funny things that have happened to you during this pandemic.

So I’m going to be asking for a little bit of transparency and I just want you to talk to me about what’s a funny experience or a good memory, if you will. If you don’t have anything funny, give me a good memory that you have with your children, over these last two and a half years. And José, I’m going to have you go first because I know with all of these animals and all of the stuff you’ve got going on, something has had to of happened.

José Guardado: All right. So, yeah, I so many stories I could tell Larry. But I think I’ll start with one. That’s just happened recently to our family. Um, because we have built such a resilient system and we’re like that place that people can come to and we’re like, anything is possible. We now have a squirrel in our home.

And we are nursing this squirrel back to health, so we can release the squirrel back into the wild. We had some friends that reached out to us through social media because they knew that we had, we had a farm, even though I don’t live on a farm, and now we have this squirrel that may not be released.

And I mean, we will, of course, but now my children are so enamored with… the squirrels name is Hobi… and they really, they put it on there on their list this year, Christmas list. You know, I want this technology, I need a smartphone, I need some clothes. And we also like to keep Hobi, right.

Rebecca Parrilla: Well, and the cool thing is we got pictures of them at work, you know? I mean, every couple of weeks we get a great one.

José Guardado: Yeah. So, so that, yeah, that is definitely something that has, uh, that wouldn’t be considered. Uh, but definitely normal for us and how we’re dealing with everything that’s going on around us.

Larry Baker: Hilarious. When I heard this story about the squirrel at first I thought, wait, is he serious until you really did start sending pictures. So I absolutely know that this is a 100% true story. That is awesome.

Melissa, something funny, or a good, shared memory that you have over these past two and a half.

Melissa Neu: Similar to José. We have a zoo here and I’ve been interrupted on more than one call because the little boys go out and get animals outside. And then sometimes they escape inside, which is pretty horrifying for me because I don’t really, I don’t really want to pick up lizards, nothing against lizzards, but I don’t, I don’t want them in the house.

And so I think more than anything, it’s been, um, the amount of animals that have come to live with us and also the ones that have been in the house. Like they’ve come to me with mice before, which is great that they don’t hurt them, but I don’t wanna, I don’t want him in my office space and I don’t want to be on camera with a lizard.

Larry Baker: Right? Or the reaction to them bringing in a lizard. I understand. I absolutely understand.

Rebecca Parrilla: Right. And what happens when a lizard meets a mouse? I don’t know. Hopefully I’ll never find out!

Melissa Neu: Hopefully I won’t. I do have several cats though. One of which was recently found and brought home. Those two cats capture quite a bit.

José Guardado: Yeah. Oh, wonderful.

Larry Baker: Okay, Rebecca, you’re up. Give me, give me something funny or…

Rebecca Parrilla: Well, I’ll give you something sentimental and something… it’s not going to be as funny as, you know, José and Melissa… but so very shortly after the pandemic started, I actually taught Matty how to ride a bike. And so we went next door and that’s the kind of thing that I just don’t like doing and always procrastinating, but we had so much time.

I mean, they learned how to ride a bike within, I would say 15 minutes. And that’s like one of the videos now that I cherish the most, because it reminds me of the beginning of the pandemic and the joy on their face in finally getting it.

But then the other fun thing that we did, we did two videos. We did one called six feet apart, which was to the tune of YMCA and maybe, you know, I could give it to the editors to like, you know, edit into this podcast somehow.

And then we did another one, a few months later called put on a mask to the tune of we are the world. And that was really funny and fun to do. We just collaborated on the lyrics.

Larry Baker: That definitely sounds like something I could see you doing RP, that is totally right up your alley. And I think one of the funniest things that happened with us is it’s the same type of deal, with tik-tok right?

So that’s the huge rage for the kids of this era, I guess. And I was determined to do something to embarrass my daughter. So we tried to do a tic-tac dance and let’s just say it will never see the light of day because I have told her if it ever leaks out there will be some consequences in regards to that leaking.

No, I’m a facilitator, not a dancer.

If you get that, there’s going to be some repercussions.

But you know, of course we got together for a face-to-face retreat. And I think that was another funny experience for me that because of the pandemic lifestyle things weren’t kept up the way they should have been. So getting prepared for that, all of those things that I used to think would be appropriate to where I had to come out and like buy new stuff.

Larry, you can’t wear sweatpants to our public retreat. I was like, oh yeah, I might want to figure out what slacks feel like again,

And then it’s the other dynamic. So again, there’s some, just some interesting things that happened during the pandemic that I’m like, oh yeah, we need to try and figure out a way to keep, you know, a workout type of atmosphere, as opposed to just being here, sitting in this room all the time.

So I absolutely do want to thank each one of you for your participation. And as we get ready to close, I just want you to give me a final thought in regards to this experience of parenting during a pandemic. And just, just share with me an overarching theme that you’d like to share with some of our listeners.

So I’m going to go ahead and ask Melissa to kick us off and just, you know, just give me your overall impression of parenting during the pandemic.

Melissa Neu: Well, I’ll say that I have a greater appreciation now for anyone who is a teacher or is, you know, really dedicated to growing children into the remarkable folks that they are.

I have tremendous new respect for all of those people who have had a hand in who my kids have become. And I am just, just very, very, very grateful. I’ve been lucky because my great mom has been here while the children were homeschooled to help. And I’ve been just so moved by how many folks are putting themselves out there in different ways to make sure that at least my kids are still getting.

And new experience, maybe not the same experience that they had in the regular classroom, but something new. And, and I am hopeful that that generosity and caring will permeate throughout our communities as we move forward.

Larry Baker: Melissa, thank you so much for sharing that insight. Let’s go to you, Rebecca. Just give me an overview, your final thoughts.

Rebecca Parrilla: Yeah. What Melissa just said about the teachers really resonates with me as well. Another thought I had is, you know, I think that because of this pandemic, this experience, I think has given a lot of workplaces, a lot of employers and leaders. Kind of a permission to recognize that life outside of work affects how we are at work and it makes us human.

And I think some employers were better than others about that before COVID, but I think this has been, you know, a reckoning around that, if you will. And you know, as Melissa said earlier, I think more people are open to talking about family. Just it’s just brought our humanity to the forefront and spilled into our work lives, which I think is amazing because we’re still who we are when we’re at work.

And so I think employers are respecting it more kind of elevating our human needs and hopefully, my hope is that it remains, and it just becomes a new normal because of all the positive aspects.

Larry Baker: Yeah, absolutely. Right. We don’t drop it at the door when we sign in. That’s a great point. José…

José Guardado: All right. So I will share three words and this is why: Have. A. Day.

That has helped my family because, you know, traditionally… have a wonderful day… have a good day at work… have been enjoyable day.

Too many qualifiers… and we’ve learned that limiting ourselves to one set of emotions or one set of feelings really kind of takes away the human part of this.

Right? We’ll have successes. We’ll have wins. We’ll have heartbreak. And simply using those three words for my family. And I like when I dropped them off at school, now that they’re going face-to-face, uh, you know, they have their own challenges for the school day. So I don’t tell them to have a wonderful day because I really don’t know.

I want them to understand that the day is what they make of it and how it’s created. So have a day is something that I usually think about for myself as well, because there are challenges coming my way, but just for me, it’s just, I wake up and I’m going to have a day and I know everything that I need to do, but keeping it simple has really helped us stayed centered and present for each other and really helped me kind of keep this blend of work and home life in a place that’s comfortable. Right? Not always. Perfect.

Larry Baker: Great. Have a day.

José Guardado: Have a day! Borrow it.

Larry Baker: Yeah, yeah, yeah. For me. What I think for me… what I’m so appreciative of with this conversation is that it emphasizes something that I’ve thought about and I’ve heard other people say… That, you know, there really isn’t a blueprint to parent during these times. The reality as a parent is we always try to do the best that we can. Right? And we, we try to add our individual situations into it, but there really isn’t a blueprint for how this is supposed to get done.

So the way that you do it in your house for Rebecca and José and Melissa, that’s your blueprint. No one can tell you, oh, you know, you really should give them this. Yeah. That’s not your blueprint. So I think that one of the things that I hope people get out of this session is that there really isn’t a100% defined right way to do this. You have to have your own individual pieces added to it. And I think each one of you through your perspective on today, that just emphasizes the fact that, hey, there’s no blueprint, so thank you.

And to all of you that are listening, we want to know what were your biggest takeaways from this conversation? Please share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn at Language and Culture Worldwide or LCW. Once again, thank you for joining us in Courageous Conversations with LCW.

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