When home, work and school blend together
Aug 10, 2020

If parenting, schooling or being a partner has become harder since the pandemic began, you’re not alone. Read on to hear candid stories from three 3Mers who’ve remained resilient as their home and work lives blended together, and what they’ve learned about being flexible during tough times.

Keeping it real: Dani Truckenmiller 

The struggle: Dani Truckenmiller, a lead user experience designer in the Health Care Business Group at 3M, isn’t afraid to talk about how difficult it’s been to be a parent, a teacher and a 3Mer all at once. “At the beginning, I was anything but resilient on the days my husband and I had the kids at home,” Dani said. “I had to hold the kids accountable with online schooling, but our jobs require 100% of our focus, eight hours a day, every weekday.” At the start of the pandemic, Dani and her husband had to use vacation time to help their six- and eight-year-old with school. “Giving them undivided attention was the best way to support them, but we just couldn’t do it while we were working,” she said. 

The solution: “We hired friends, who were able, to help us teach our kids — we don’t have family near here that can help,” Dani said. During the 2020-2021 school year, Dani and her husband are alternating using some PTO and splitting the days 50/50. “Homeschooling is hard for us, and that’s OK. It’s OK to admit that it’s not sustainable or that you need help — many people need help right now.” 

Dani’s tips for staying sane: Dani has found several different ways to make things work as a parent, partner and 3Mer. “First off, know that you don’t have to be a perfect parent. If you’re struggling and at the end of the day there were a bunch of tantrums, it’s OK,” she said. “These are crazy times.” Dani also makes sure she and her husband have their own spaces to work. “Thankfully, we have an office, so my husband will work there while I move around the house throughout the day. I’ll also take walks by myself in the morning or late evening.” Her biggest takeaway, though, is to talk it out: “For so long, I felt so alone,” she said. “It wasn’t until I started talking about how hard it was with my manager, and she mentioned people she heard from that were also struggling, that I realized there are others out there going through the same problems and challenges. Talking about it makes you feel better, and getting other perspectives and ideas is always helpful.” 

Dani’s tips for working well: Setting clear boundaries between work and home has made Dani’s workdays more productive. “It’s hard to delineate between working and not working when you’re always in the same environment. It’s important to set boundaries — when it's 5 p.m., it’s time to put the computer away,” she said. “I think it’s also OK to cancel meetings that aren’t necessary. If you’re pressed for a deadline, it’s OK to tell a colleague to message you if and when you’re needed in a meeting, instead of calling into the meeting and being distracted.” 

Getting creative: Yin Quintero 

The struggle: Like Dani, Yin Quintero, a lead industrial designer with 3M’s Consumer Business Group, didn’t have family nearby to help with childcare. Yin’s four- and five-year-old boys were in full-time daycare before the pandemic hit, so adjusting to having both of them home while she and her husband worked was difficult. “We were able to do it for about three months, and it was not working well. I couldn’t concentrate in meetings or on any projects. We were working from home, preparing meals, cleaning, trying to figure out how to homeschool the kids — everything was happening at the same time.” 

The solution: When Yin and her husband realized the situation was not sustainable, they packed their car and drove from Minnesota to California to temporarily live with Yin’s parents, who were able to help with childcare. “We packed up our two kids and two cats and drove for five days across the country to California,” Yin said. “Now, when we’re working during the day and we have calls and projects to focus on, we can lean on family for support.” When the family decided to make the move, 3M had Yin’s back. “3M was very flexible when I told them. I’m very thankful for FlexAbility and that I had resources I could use.” 

Yin’s tips for finding fixes: Since moving, Yin has come up with different systems that help keep everything in order. “[My husband and I] make a schedule for each day. We plan out who’s going to work in what rooms, who can come in, who can’t. It doesn’t work perfectly but coordinating ahead of time helps us avoid distractions.” Most importantly, Yin has learned that it’s OK to ask for help, even when it’s hard. “Acknowledge that this is a difficult time for your household. Don’t be shy to reach out and get help. It’s not healthy to live like this for a very long time, but we’re all doing the best we can.” 

Yin’s tips for working well: Yin’s biggest takeaway is that successfully working remotely is possible — and that in some circumstances, it can actually be helpful. “The way I interact with teammates is different now. I miss having meetings with everyone and seeing their faces but working remotely has given me flexibility to work things out on my own and then reach back out when I’m ready.”

Staying the course: Nic Echeverri 

The struggle: Corporate offices aren’t the only buildings that have closed due to the pandemic — most learning institutions have transitioned to a fully online program, too. This means Nic Echeverri, a senior design manager with 3M’s Consumer Business Group who’s currently pursuing his MBA, is going to school and going to work, all from the same desk in his living room. “Being on my screen all day has been especially difficult,” Nic said. “Every single conversation I have is on the screen, and at the end of the workday, I realize I’ve been looking at it all day long. And if I have school afterward, I’m in front of my computer for upwards of 12 hours a day.” 

The solution: Combatting the hours of screen time hasn’t been easy for Nic, but he’s found ways to make the computer-heavy days more tolerable. “It’s important for me to stand up, even to just go outside and stand with my feet in the grass to get away from the tech for a minute,” he said. “Trying not to let the days blend together has been important, too. When this started, I always had school in my mind, even during the workday. Now I’ve learned not to worry about tasks until I’m actively doing them. I have to compartmentalize.” Having fun outside of work has been a help — he and his wife are taking on big home improvement projects, and they have a goal to visit as many Minnesota state parks as they can before the year is over. 

Nic’s tips for getting it all done: During work or school, Nic usually keeps his headphones in to help him stay on task and avoid distractions, but when it’s time to break, he fully disconnects: “[My wife and I] go for walks together right when the workday is done — it’s almost like a simulated commute that lets us decompress,” he said. “I’ve built a routine that includes elements of self-care and specific time for me to unwind.” 

Nic’s tips for working well: Nic’s busy work and school schedule has helped him become a master of prioritization. “Having quicker meetings is more important now. Figure out all the meetings you have to be in, so you can be present when it’s time,” he said. “I think tools like Microsoft Teams are helpful now, but they’ll also be helpful when we get back in the office. It helps us present more effectively and stay on task.” 

When these 3Mers return to the office, one thing is certain: They’ll take the change in stride and rise to whatever new challenges come about as they settle into yet another new routine. “3Mers are a flexible, resilient bunch,” Dani said. 

3M employees are encouraged to be open and honest so they get support when they need it. Want to become a 3Mer? Learn more at 3M.com/careers.

Other Topics

Contact Media Relations

Contact Media Email

These contacts are intended only for the media. If you are not a member of the media, please call 1-888-3M HELPS (1-888-364-3577).

We will get back to you within one business day.

Email Alerts

Subscribe to receive automatic updates via email for 3M news & stories.