#EmiTogether: How Erin Beck, founder of Wana, stays sane with her family (in their 1 bdrm apartment)

Today we have Erin Beck, mompreneur Founder and CEO of Wana. Before Wana, she was a SpaceX Dragon Mission Director, designing and operating spacecraft bound for the International Space Station. Before that, an around-the-world backpacker, rescue scuba instructor, and award-winning theatre director. Erin believes skills are cumulative and transferable across disciplines. She believes being a parent tops them all. And she believes it is absolutely okay to have everything – even free babysitting.

About her relationship: Jose and I became close friends at the start of 2009, when we were both in graduate school for robotics.  We started dating on May 1, he moved in the next day, and we were engaged 10 weeks later. We still celebrate the first of every month with a, “Hey, happy anniversary,” and a big smile and a kiss. Now we are three, with a vivacious young lady about to turn four years old.

In light of what’s going on with COVID-19, WFH, and Social Distancing, what are some new routines or rituals that you’ve introduced as a couple or as a family?

My husband and I have been flexible workers for many years (since we went globetrotting for a year as digital nomads), but we generally choose not to work from home at the same time. We’re too distracting to each other! It doesn’t matter how much I love my work, if I have the opportunity to hang out at home with hubby all day, I have a hard time doing anything else! But now we’re on #coronatineday13, and it’s all three of us and two cats crammed into this one-bedroom apartment, both Jose and I still working full-time (and even Little Miss in digital “school” three times a week). 

You know what it reminds me of? The fourth trimester. When she was born, she had terrible reflux, and we couldn’t find a solution for safe sleep. So we held her, day and night for eight weeks. Jose took the day shift, I took the night shift, and we would do a “shift handover” report at 6am and 6pm just like we had done when we were Dragon Operators at SpaceX. It was exhausting and ridiculous, but we simply settled into what had to be done, and those long overnight hours cuddling my tender, sleeping (crying) baby, in steady lockstep with my partner, are some of my most precious memories of those early days as parents.

Now, Jose works mornings (starting at 5am) and I work nights (ending at 3am), each of us getting a few undisturbed hours while kiddo is sleeping. The rest of the day we switch on and off: play, work, play, nap, work, play, work! It’s not efficient, but being together more than makes up for it.

What are you doing intentionally for you and your partner  to stay sane during this challenging period?

The dishes! Back on a normal morning, Jose would clean the kitchen and pack the lunches while I got us dressed for work and school. Without that routine, our roles are shifting, and picking up little bits of his old jobs are one way I can say, ‘I got you.’

Can you inspire us with something positive that came out of this situation?

It’s important to acknowledge that it is completely okay to feel the pain and worry of the tragedies surrounding COVID-19 right alongside the joys of slowing down and spending long, cloistered hours with those closest to you. It was hard to rectify the dichotomies of those feelings at first, but it is simply a reality of the deep repercussions of this situation.

One thing I am loving is watching our toddler just … do her own thing. She loves preschool, and so do we, but having her home all day gives us the really cool opportunity to watch her spend her time. 

I’ve gotten totally fine with screens, late nights, and really big messes.  She is on and off the tablet whenever she likes, cuddles on my shoulder into the wee hours, and giggled until she fell over throwing her dinner noodles at the wall. We ended up running a whole science experiment on how to get the noodles to stick better. Her storytelling of daring made-up superheroes is endless, as are her stickers-on-everything projects.  She has this amazing time to self-actualize, and it’s fascinating. I get to watch this smart and happy kid just be a smart and happy kid, whatever that means to her, and I love it.

What are 3 things you want your children to say about the relationship you have with your partner?

That we love each other deeply, say it every day, and show it every way.

What are you excited about most for the next several years with your significant other?

Getting older. Does that seem strange? I am in love with the ways we change over time, inside and out, and that we get to share those transformations together. We’ve traveled the world, jumped out of airplanes, played Shakespeare, run cows, launched rockets … now we’re at this place in our relationship that is just as dynamic, but in the quiet ways. We can do nothing but watch a day go by and still learn new things about each other, about how we navigate raising our family and caring for our parents and deciding where to put the couch. I love the calm of long love.