Keep Calm and Quack On

Some days are definitely harder than others. As a wife, mother, and CEO most days I feel like I can segment my time, and my responsibilities fairly well. My days have a nice routine to them that lets me feel productive and organized. I either get up, get myself ready, out the door and to work or I would get up, get my daughter ready, sometimes get myself ready, get out the door, and do school drop off then go to work. Then I had a nice stretch of 6-8 hours in the office, or running errands for work, or meetings with employees, or janitorial duties … you know, getting done, what had to get done. After that was either school pick up or a nice quiet commute home where I could listen to an audiobook and relax as I drove my 30-45 minutes home. Once home, my husband and I would tag-team dinner for our 4-year old, and we get to spend quality family time together while she eats, then its wash, brush teeth, potty, jammies, books, and bed. Now, with a quiet house whoever did not cover bedtime duties presents “grownup dinner” and my husband and I could enjoy a less hectic meal before watching some TV and then off to bed … wash, rinse, repeat.

Sure, there were nights where my husband or I needed to work after dinner, or bedtime ran long, or a supposedly sleeping child decides to empty a full bottle of baby powder into her bed and make snow angels (you know you’ve been there, don’t judge me). But for the most part my roles were segmented, compartmentalized, ordered. I could wear one hat, take it off, and put another one on. COVID-19 changed all that.

Now, I am all things all at once. I am trying to answer employee emails, while setting up an art project, while trying to explain to my husband why I need him to reschedule meetings for nap time, while … while … while … Everything just seems to happen all at once now, all the time. My hats are no longer orderly, I no longer get to wear one at a time, and I am pretty sure at least one of them still smells like baby powder.

When California first entered Shelter-In-Place on March 16th, Rubber Duck Lab was ready … sort of. We had already planned to shut down our physical location in June but had scheduled 6-weeks of transitioning from in person only services to online only services. Our team was ready to start a gradual transition with multiple meetings scheduled, new Teams to form, new procedures and protocols to write, and a new division of responsibilities. But when COVID-19 hit, all those plans were accelerated and an easy, smooth, planned transition became chaotic, unorganized, unscheduled … just a mess. We all had to learn how to work from home, what new roles would complement us best, and how, as an organization, we would pivot and remain relevant.

We had a ton of growing pains, multiple starts and restarts, management changes, role changes, team changes. You name it, we restarted it, then restarted it yet again. Working from home, without the ability to collaborate in person, without the bandwidth to dedicate real time to being CEO, without the ability to just talk face-to-face proved more challenging then any of us expected. But finally, by July we had a good routine going. We knew who was doing what, how we were pivoting, how we could continue to work toward our mission and vision, and best of all, we had a new product we were launching in September … monthly Active-Book subscriptions and free printables! Things were finally looking up, people were turning work in on time, quality of product was increasing, everything was great. We were on track for our new launch.

August 16th, 2020 lightning strikes across California ignited hundreds of wildfires, the CZU Lightning Fire was simply the one closest to my employees and my family. Within three days two of my employees had to evacuate their homes, another was helping coordinate pet housing for evacuees, and my family packed preparing to evacuate as well (which we did a day later). Half our team was directly impacted by the fires. I have never worn more hats at one time in my life.

It was not just trying to coordinate work while being evacuated. It was looking out for my employees because while I am not their mom, you better believe I worried for them like a mom. It was trying to ease my daughter’s anxiety while trying to ease employees’ workloads. It was trying to put a brave face on for everyone, and take everything on myself, because at least I could feel in control of something. It was being able to turn to managers and say “thank you” for picking up the slack and managing your teams during this crisis. It was explaining to my daughter, employees, my parents, husband, vendors, neighbors, clients, that everything was going to be okay and that we were going to get through this.

I was so touched by the outpouring of well wishes, and concern, and good thoughts sent to us during our time of need. I needed all of that to get me through a crisis that impacted every aspect of my life. I needed the support of those around me; and I was lucky enough to receive it.

Now, I am sitting in my home office, repopulated (learned that new vocabulary word during the evacuation) to our neighborhood, our home is safe, our family is safe, and our friends are safe. The Rubber Duck Lab Team Members who also evacuated have had both good and bad news, but we are rallying around one another to pull through. Our product launch will happen; maybe not as orderly as anticipated, perhaps with less advertising as we would have liked, certainly with less calming good vibes. But that’s par for the course. It’s 2020, it is what it is as our reality start president is fond of saying. But if we all stick together, support one another, and pick up the slack when and where we can then we can all keep calm and quack on.


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Rubber Duck Lab

A ​nonprofit education-innovation organization promoting equitable access to project-based learning ​and 21st century technology ​through active exploration, collaboration, and creativity.


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Registered Charity: 83-2905501

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