Work, Life Balance Tips for Parents From Maven VP of People Karsten Vagner

April 29, 2021
Briana Contreras

,
Peter Wehrwein

Vagner shares best work/life balance practices for parents during a new phase of COVID-19 as their children are back in school. The vice president of People at Maven, a virtual clinic for women's and family health, also shares some well-being tips that work for him as a parent.

Below is a brief Q&A of the interview with Vagner which has been edited and clarified for length.

Q: Can you share what Maven has experienced from COVID-19 and how it's affected practices with patients?

A: What we're seeing in Maven is a real uptick for families in terms of their needs. Our mission at Maven is to improve the health of the world, one woman, one family at a time - a lofty mission, and it makes us feel so good to be able to help people and families every day. I think through COVID that mission has become more of a responsibility, and making sure that every person who needs access to healthcare through telemedicine, we are able to deliver that for them. It gives us a new meaning and purpose and has over these past 14 months. Internally, we have lots and lots of parents at Maven. We spend a lot of time talking with them, and working with them to make sure that we're always striking the balance of doing what the business needs and doing what your family needs to. It's easier said than done.

Q: Has COVID made Maven's transition in services for patients easier or has it become harder?

A: I think telemedicine has made things a lot easier for a lot of people. Some stats for you if they're helpful: we saw a 50% increase in telemedicine appointments across the board in the early months of the pandemic last year. And when I think about mental health in particular, we saw a 300% increase in mental health appointments on our platform throughout this year too. And it makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

Q: Can you share a few tips or best practices for parents and their children during this time?

A: First thing I'd say is: keep the things that are working. I'll give you a quick example of that. A lot of people are telling me that they're having dinner and meals with their family more than ever before. As we move into a world that is maybe a little bit more normal, post COVID, keep the stuff that works for your family, and build those limitations and boundaries for yourself in order to keep that put your family first, to the extent that you can.

Another thing for parents to really think about, be patient with your kids as they navigate this transition to I think there's a lot of science out there that tells us children's mental health has also taken a toll during the pandemic. It's not just parents who are feeling it, it's the kids as well. So stay attuned to that, especially as we go through the end of the school year started another one. What does that feel like for kids who've been locked down for a significant portion of their lives? Make sure you're really thinking about them as well.

I'm also happy to give you some some things that I've learned personally, at home, with my family and things that have worked and maybe not worked. But I'd say number one is: predictable routines help them a lot. With my daughter I found that her knowing what's coming next, every day, and my husband and I knowing what's coming next too has really helped structure our days in a time where the world feels unpredictable. What can you control? What can you predict? And what can you do for your kids, they're found really helpful. Another is be a little flexible with yourself. So I indulge a little bit, maybe more ice cream than I should forgive myself on it too. So the adults forgive yourself complex, I think is needed. And these moments, maybe it's okay to watch one more episode and that reality show on Netflix or whatever it happens to be and not feel guilty about it. That's okay.

Another practical thing that has worked for our family a lot after thousands of meals that we've cooked and cleaned up after: takeout. Takeout works. It helps the economy. It's really nice to eat a meal that you didn't have to make and you don't have to clean up after. So it's a win win for everybody. I love supporting the restaurants in my neighborhood and I love that they support us too.

We talked a lot about I think throughout this pandemic as a society, exercise and physical health and making sure you're moving as a parent. I found it really helpful to do family exercise. There's also a measure of accountability as well. And you know, the four-and-a-half year old at home, we do jumping jacks every morning it's also helped her learn to count to 100. There's an extra added benefit in there and I don't like to start my day as if we're not doing our jumping jacks in the morning. It's a lot of fun.

Finally, being a parent in times like these, obviously very difficult to do and stepping away is okay. I really found it helpful to go have dinner or meal or drinks or whatever it happens to be with friends and leave everybody else at home for a little while. As the world opens up and make sure you're doing it safely, being able to do that, find time for yourself as an individual, I find it really restorative. It makes me appreciate all the people waiting for me back home when I get there.