Creatives Under Quarantine: Preacher duo juggles work and the wrath of a '2-year-old terrorist'
In our series Creative Under Quarantine, we’re asking agency and other creative execs to document their lives in isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic—the good, the bad, the frustrating, the funny and the mundane.
Married couple Kellyn and Jimmie Blount work together at Austin agency Preacher as creative director and associate creative director, respectively. Between them, they have created for clients including Beam Suntory, SimpliSafe, Tommy John, Sportscenter, Crate and Barrel, Vital Farms and more. Now that home is their workplace and their workplace is home, they're performing quite the juggling act with two young boys, 9-month-old Wesley and 2-and-a-half-year-old Hults, and an elderly dog thrown into the mix. Here, they document what it’s like to balance parenting and the job.
If you have a quarantine story to tell, get in touch with Ad Age’s Creativity Editor Ann-Christine Diaz at [email protected].
Jimmie: Our alarms wake the baby. So our plan of 90 minutes of kid-free work gets off to a crap start. Kellyn heads downstairs while I settle into my newly relocated desk which is at the foot of our bed. I skip brushing my teeth or even putting on pants. The virus has claimed one of my accounts while another surges. Three COVID-19 related ideas have moved into production on one account. I’m grateful to be busy.
Kellyn: Sitting down for the first time since I woke up an hour and a half ago. The baby woke up crazy early which woke up the 2-year-old, which woke me up, which woke up the 16-year-old incontinent beagle. Jimmie was already awake quietly working. I forgot to run the dishwasher last night, shit. The 2-year-old quietly eating Elsa Cheerios repeats “shit” sweetly to himself as he picks out the marshmallows.
Kellyn: Turned the news on. Headline: “This will be America’s new Pearl Harbor week.” The 2-year-old screamed, “No news!” in my face.
Kellyn: A Walmart commercial just made me cry.
Jimmie: Kellyn had the boys for the past two hours so I could work alone for the morning. It’s probably time I brushed my teeth and shaved my newly mustachioed face. Kellyn’s humoring me while I experiment with my facial hair.
Kellyn: Officially logging on while Jimmie takes over with the boys to go on a walk. My semi-manageable calendar is very quickly becoming less manageable as brand managers wake up and start dropping meetings on it like little internet missiles.
Kellyn: Signed into the all-agency Monday Zoom meeting. Jimmie’s back with a SCREAMING 2-year-old. He wants a cracker. He is literally eating a cracker while he screams for a cracker. Took 15 minutes to calm him down while on mute listening to kidless people talk about calm, reasonable things while we negotiated with a 2-year-old terrorist.
Kellyn: Fully ignoring the 2-year-old while he plays golf in the yard and I work. He keeps talking to me and I keep pretending I’m engaged. It’s going swimmingly. We are in the thick of 2021 planning for one of our booze clients. Crazy to think about while 2020 is going so sideways. Good news is people need booze now more than ever.
Jimmie: I take the boys. The toddler is playing golf in the yard—you should see this kid’s swing—he takes a vicious swipe at the ball. The baby monitor erupts. Herd the toddler back inside while I grab a bottle for his brother. Of course, we interrupt Kellyn ... she scatters.
Kellyn: What should I make for dinner? UGH I. Hate. This. Part. Of. The. Day.
Jimmie: I put the baby down and hold my breath. If he falls asleep they’ll both be napping at the same time, creating a chance to work uninterrupted. Preacher’s mission of "Spreading The Good Word" is fully coming to life. The newly created holes in my calendar are quickly filled with pro-bono work.
Kellyn: Still no idea what we are going to have for dinner. My lunch was delish, even though I had to eat it while feeding the baby and video conferencing our booze client, their media partners and their entire PR team.
Jimmie: The toddler and I go for a bike ride. I think he forgets that I’m also on the bike and a stream of toddler consciousness comes spewing out of his mouth. It’s nonsense. I love it.
Kellyn: Just got off back-to-back conference calls to discuss how to pivot a campaign we just made for an insurance client in light of our new COVID reality. Hiding in the 2-year-old's room because it’s the only quiet place ... and the baby just woke up screaming. I have exactly 19 minutes before my next call.
Kellyn: Six minutes late to a Zoom creative check-in. The baby is playing on the floor. Praying he stays quiet. He does not. I give him the external keyboard to smack. I get a text from the BM who can see my struggle, “You’re Superwoman.” I said thank you. For the record, I don’t feel like Superwoman. I imagine her to be much skinnier, and probably isn’t craving alcohol as much as I am.
Kellyn: The meeting ran 21 minutes over. My inbox is flooded again with messages about the UN open brief, designers needing feedback, print ads that need approval to ship and that 2020 planning presentation that needs to be reviewed. We are having leftovers for dinner.
Jimmie: My night to bathe the toddler. He hates getting into the bath, but once he’s in there it’s ok until we have to brush our teeth, which he also hates.
Kellyn: Back online. I lost my phone after the last meeting. Found it. Had 26 text messages and another full inbox. At least now it’s acceptable to drink.
Kellyn: Overslept. Forgot to run the dishwasher again. Shit. The 2-year-old climbed on my shoulders while I was feeding the baby so he could put his butt on my head and yell “booty booty booty” over and over again—new game that we can’t figure out where he learned. His attention quickly turns to the lamp which he then knocks over for the 86,476th time.
Kellyn: Two calls down, one of which was a leadership connect on a booze client of ours—always fun to go straight to Bourbon at 9 a.m. About to get on the first video meeting of the day, Jimmie is upstairs working sans children. The baby is in the walker, casually slamming into everything he can, while the toddler watches “Frozen.” I’ve seen “Frozen II” about 26 times and I still don’t get it, at all. Does that make me dumb? Jimmie doesn’t get it either. Does that make us both dumb?
Kellyn: The wheels came off. Elsa screwed me. The walker did not work. I’m full-blown sweating. Everyone on the call about a website project for our booze client experienced me unsuccessfully trying to keep it together.
Kellyn: Toddler says, “Mommas Air Pods” followed by, “Momma no work.” To be clear, he has been in speech therapy for a year due to a delayed vocabulary. But don’t worry doctor, he is super clear on “Air Pods.” Meanwhile, I still refer to them as “ear pods.”
Jimmie: I come downstairs to relieve Kellyn. My go-to move is, “Let’s go outside!” Shit, it’s raining. The forecast looks like rain all day. We’re stuck indoors. All day ... dooope. That negative thought connects to another. I think back to the morning’s status meeting. Another team presented a seriously impressive campaign they just launched which I am of course jealous of, I mean, excited about.
Kellyn: Toddler demands an external keyboard I am working on. He takes it and continues to drag it on the floor by the cord and says “come on doggie.”
Kellyn: Bribed the toddler with brownies to get him to leave the baby alone so he could take a nap. Now I have to make brownies in the 30 minutes I have between meetings. I don’t even know why I said it. Most people don’t go straight to a bribe that requires so much effort. Where were the Goldfish when I needed them?! Pretty sure I had a stroke or something as I was saying it. I could even see the curiosity on Jimmie’s face as I offered the now regrettable bribe.
Jimmie: Rain had us trapped indoors all morning. Just put the toddler down for a nap. I read an article that kids who watch less than an hour of TV a day have more grey matter in their brain. At this point our toddler has none.
Kellyn: The baby just crawled for the first time! I was on a Zoom meeting having a fairly serious chat with our CCO Rob [Baird] and kinda missed it. At first I was sad that I missed it since I was looking at my screen rather than him, but in hindsight it’s cool that I was home to be a part of the bigger moment, versus daycare telling me about it after the fact. Thank god for moments like this.
Kellyn: Fuck. The baby can crawl. Now they both move.
Jimmie: The baby crawled for the first time, and we were home to see! Kellyn was on a video call with our CCO and he got to see it too ... it’s weird to have this level of intimacy with your co-workers.
Jimmie: There’s a 24lb tea kettle roaring in arms, I’m 15 minutes into an hour-long creative review where I need to give the team detailed layout and copy direction. Tend to the kid first or my job? That’s that question that underlies every work-from-home day.
Jimmie: I’ve got the toddler watching TV again while I feed his brother a bottle. The baby had a short nap. I bet he’s teething. I check Kellyn’s calendar and she’s booked till six. Damnit. I’m wiped, so I load the boys in the car and do something I haven’t done in three weeks. I drive downtown while I put together creative feedback for my team in my head—which I will later transcribe.
Jimmie: We just got home from a long drive. The baby nodded off so it was a bit longer than planned but I’m happy he got some sleep. It was surreal to see open highways during rush hour.
Jimmie: During dinner, Kellyn proposed her cousin come help us with the kids. At first the thought of bringing a fifth person into our smallish house terrified me, but I’m not sure how much longer we can keep this going without doing some lasting damage to our toddler’s brain, and our own.
Kellyn: In bed. Feel like I’m dying. Not sure if I’m worried about the kids, stressed about work or lamenting the fact that the world feels like it is literally coming to an end.