The Coffee Chat (#33)
My conversation with Bhavika Shah - Product Manager, Range, Taco lover and mom to a 8-month-old
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Hi there 👋🏽
I am not some who cares for a lot of choices. Beyond a point they overwhelm me. I would rather go for curated experiences so I get to have more confidence in my fewer choices.
Over the last few months, my brain has been overwhelmed with the almost infinite amount of movies and TV shows that are now available. We subscribe to 5 different platforms and most of my free time (which is anyway very limited) goes in deciding what to watch.
Was thrilled when I recently stumbled upon Flick Metrix.
Flick Metrix lets you to browse all movies ever made and filter by streaming service, genre, release year, critic rating & audience rating.
Just wanted to share this little piece of treasure with you all!
☕ Now, on to today’s coffee chat…
Meet Bhavika Shah
Bhavika is a Product Lead at Range, an early-stage startup on a mission to help remote and distributed teams stay connected and share information.
We met each other on “Product Twitter” at a time when I was trying to learn more about the space. I quite enjoyed reading Product Soup, Bhavika’s newsletter on all things product and leadership and made a mental note to one day connect with her. We did end up connecting but in an entirely different context (life when you become a parent during the pandemic).
I quite enjoyed getting to know Bhavika and I hope you do too.
Below is my conversation with Bhavika…
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family
I’m a Product Lead at an early-stage startup Range where we’re building a teamwork platform to help remote and distributed teams stay connected and share information. I joined in the thick of the pandemic because I felt like we needed tools for better remote work. I’ve held various product and customer-facing roles for the past 10+ years and have a degree in Biomedical Engineering.
My husband is an R&D Manager at Boston Scientific where he leads teams developing new medical devices. Our son Kian was born in August 2021 and we’ve been lucky to both be able to work from home while he’s cared for in our home.
Outside of work we both love to cook and travel. I’m also a big reader and crafter though that’s been hard to find time for after Kian! The pandemic has been hard on our hobbies so we’ve been finding other things to do like local hikes, reading more, and playing games.
For you what was the hardest part of becoming a new parent?
I hadn’t really spent much time with babies before becoming a mom so I really didn’t know what to expect. Initially I was shocked at the relentlessness of it - there are no breaks early on! Babies need round the clock attention and all of a sudden you have a whole new set of very time-consuming responsibilities. It made me realize I used to have so much free time. The abrupt change in lifestyle was jarring, too. Early on there wasn’t much time and we were being cautious due to covid so we weren’t seeing many friends or getting out of the house much. Things turned a corner at about 2.5 months.
After becoming a parent did you adopt any new beliefs, behaviours, or habits that have most improved your life?
After having our son, I’ve made an effort to be more present. I know that these moments aren’t going to last forever and once they’re going I’ll miss them so much! I’ve been making an effort to enjoy every day no matter the ups and downs. I’ve also started prioritizing more - try to choose a few things to get done everyday and then don’t stress about everything else. There’s always going to be a never-ending to-do list so I try not to get bogged down by all of it.
My husband and I have also started thinking more about the values and examples we want to set for our son. This is making us think more critically about how we spend our time and how we can show him and teach him the values that are important to us.
Did you take any form of maternity leave? If yes, how was the transition back to work?
I took a couple months of continuous leave, then returned part-time for about a month before returning full-time. I loved that part-time transition because it allowed me to ease back into work and find new routines while still getting to spend time with my son. My team at work is amazing and incredibly supportive of balancing becoming a new parent and work. It helps that several other people on our team have kids, too, so everyone understands firsthand when you’ve had a rough night's sleep or a sick kiddo at home.
The biggest challenge that working parents with young kids have is limited time for themselves. How have you managed this? How do you manage your energy?
It sounds cliche but by asking for help! My husband and I are lucky that both sets of parents live close by so we take advantage of all the help they offer. I also talk to my husband about what I need - whether it’s a couple hours out of the house or an evening to just do my own thing.
And again, always prioritizing. Figuring out the most important things to get done helps us feel on top of things - and sometimes the most important thing to get done is relaxing or something enjoyable. On those days we ignore the to-do list!
What choices have you and your partner made that has helped you become a dual career household with kids?
It wasn’t really a choice for us, it was just a given. We both love our work and enjoy having careers so we have always just supported each other however is needed. Sometimes that means we have to compromise on other things, like spend a little time working in the evening, or catch up on chores on the weekend, but that’s a part of life.
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investment you have made after becoming a parent?
Sounds silly but investing in a nice chair has been great - we spend a lot of time feeding Kian or holding him and having a comfortable place to sit makes all that easier, especially when it’s in the middle of the night. We also have a couple great baby carriers that were gifted to us and were lifesavers early on when he was having fussy periods and now make it much easier to get out and about with him.
What advice would you give others who are on the cusp of becoming parents? What advice should they ignore?
Advice that I would give: remember that everything is a phase - it will pass. The good and the bad so don’t get too attached to whatever is happening in that moment. Also, trust your instincts!
Advice to ignore: anyone that tells you, you have to do this or this will definitely work. Every kid and parent is different so take everyone’s advice with a grain of salt. Also following anything too rigidly - babies work in their own way and you might not always be able to get them on a perfect schedule or routine.
What’s the best thing you have watched recently?
TV Shows I’ve loved recently: Mare of Easttown and Sex Lives of College Girls
What’s the best thing you have read recently?
I read this newsletter at the end of 2021 and it’s really stayed with me. Made me think about how I give back and what kind of examples we want to set for our son.
What’s the best thing you have listened to recently?
A few of my favorite Spotify playlists:
📖 My private thoughts from my very public diary…
I would love to hear from you, feedback is always welcome!
And if you happen to know an inspiring working parent who should be featured in a future edition (or if you yourself are one) - please do get in touch
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Loved this piece! Kind of resonated with their experience. We too became parents in May 2020(first lockdown) and have so many stories since then. Parenting is certainly a couple's job together and I'm proud to have played my part well:)