Last week I had the opportunity to take my daughter to the office for Take Your Kids To Work Day. She was so excited and honestly so was I. I knew she would have an awesome time because there were so many cool activities planned. However, that is not the main reason I was excited. Taking her to the office meant more mommy and daughter time than what we’ve been having lately.
At least she gets to lounge 😂😂😂
Of course, I still had to work, but we were able to have lunch together and I had the opportunity to check in on her during the workday. Though it was only for a day, it was a real treat!
Just a few months ago, a good friend and I started chatting about the challenges of being working moms. She’s a lawyer and I’m an account manager at a growing SaaS company. Yet, we both share the same concern.
How do you maintain your status at work while also meeting the unpredictable needs of motherhood?
For the past month or so, my son has been struggling with the woes of teething which meant days of fevers, long sleepless nights, and hospital runs. Hubby and I felt like zombies for nearly two weeks. As a matter of fact, we both literally needed to take naps during our lunch breaks in order to just get through the day. While trying my best to nurse our prince back to health, I couldn’t help but wonder – am I going to get fired when I get back to work? The guilt of my teammates having to manage my accounts in my absence or the fact that I had to call out of work for nearly a week just put me in PANIC mode.
Do they understand why I need to call out? Should I send in an additional doctor’s note? Maybe, I should send them a scanned copy of the hospital paperwork? Do I need a timestamped picture? 🤷🏾♀️😫 etc.
Every working mom struggles with the fear of their career or job being affected by the needs of motherhood and that should NOT be the norm. While most companies boast about having a great work/life balance, it is more of a lofty ideal than something that is actually implemented. Unfortunately, the reality is companies are still not fully meeting the needs of moms and cater more to those without any home obligations. While some changes have been made such as nursing rooms, state-paid family leave programs, etc., there are still some gaps that need to be addressed.
Another doc visit 😭
Two weeks ago, Sarah Buckley Friedberg posted the following on Facebook and it immediately went viral.
SAY WHAT? SHE NAILED IT!
She hit it right on the nail. Society has set so many expectations as to what constitutes a good working mom, but no real effort is being made to meet our needs. Next Sunday is Mother’s Day and we will be inundated with flowers, 💐 sweet treats, and awesome brunches. We will feel the love and appreciation from our little ones and our spouses, but come Monday morning the struggle will continue.
I never wanted to work outside of the home. It was always my desire to run my own business or to work from home full-time. However, that wish has not yet come true. (I’m working on it.) In the meantime, I am learning how to juggle life in a way that will work for my family AND my career without losing my mind. It doesn’t always mesh well, but I am doing my best. 😫
It means that most of the time I get home when my kids are already asleep and I leave before they do in the morning. We don’t get to enjoy a lot of quality time during the work week and as a result, I try to overcompensate during the weekends. 🤷🏾♀️
Mommy, can you come to the next parent association meeting?
Mommy, can you go on the school trip with me?
More often than not, the response is always – I’m sorry baby, but mommy can’t take another day off.
Just yesterday we were notified of a trip to celebrate the end of the school year and it requires each child to have a chaperone. The next conversation wasn’t about which one of us is going, but who can we get to go with her.
It hurts to have to tell her that we can’t go, but that is the reality that we are faced with. While I do have unlimited PTO, my son being sick for a few days over the course of two weeks and having to take days off to nurse him back to health, plus pre-approved vacations makes asking for another day a major risk.
Growing up, my mom worked either nights or part-time which meant that she was able to make most of my school events, she was home when I got home from school and she had time to prep dinner daily before Dad and I arrived home. How I wish I could do the same things she did for me. Now as a mom of two, I can’t even make it home in time to share a meal with my kids before bedtime. It takes a toll on me, but I continue to push through on faith. I keep telling myself that this is only for now and that greater is to come. That is my hope and what gets me through each day.
Well, what can corporate do?
Acknowledge there is a gap and take the necessary steps to learn what the challenges are. Why not set up a feedback session with both moms and dads and see what the needs are? What are their concerns? What challenges are they facing? How can we make things better?
If your company prides itself on offering a solid work/life balance, then reassure moms that this also applies to their family needs. Reassure them that taking time to care for their children outside of maternity leave will not affect their work status or eligibility for promotions.
Make room in the time-off policy for the unexpected. Parents everywhere can tell you that the unexpected happens more often than not. We don’t always know that our children will wake up tomorrow with a 103-degree fever. We didn’t plan that pink eye. We surely didn’t plan for the school to announce a last-minute closure. Things happen and when they do, we need your support.
Implement a corporate-wide work-from-home policy. A corporate-wide policy will help to eliminate personal biases and provide a clear explanation of eligibility, requirements, and expectations. I have managed on numerous occasions to try to nurse a sick baby to health while also sitting on hour-long calls with clients all because I don’t want to burden my co-workers. Having the option to work from home is a lifesaver and should be something that more companies look into implementing if they truly desire to meet the needs of employees. 👍🏾
Offer flexible work schedules. Corporations have no idea how much that helps. Work 4 days in the office and one day at home or how about a later/earlier start? There are ways to make it work. Corporations just have to be willing to explore other alternatives. You will be amazed at what an employee with a flexible schedule can accomplish while other standard schedule employees seem to be struggling. Working in the office does not equate to productivity. I can’t tell you how many times I have managed to work well past my scheduled time when I work from home. Meanwhile, if I am in the office I have to dash through the door at 6 pm on the dot every day if I want to get an hour in with my kids.
Look into offering backup childcare programs as a benefit. Back-up Childcare services, like Bright Horizons, are a great option for those last-minute incidents that often cause parents to call out of work. Knowing that there is a benefit that will provide childcare for our children when we need it most, means we can come to work and rest assured that our children are taken care of.
I am no expert on corporate policies, etc. However, as an employee who also happens to be a mom, I see a major need for companies and working parents to come to the table and address the issue. The numbers do matter, but employee happiness has a direct effect on those numbers.
Let’s stop circumventing the issue and address it head-on. Parenting is a blessing and it should not be made to feel like a burden. Communication is key!